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6 Marketing Trends Defense Contractors Should Exploit Now

Are you frustrated trying to reach government buyers amidst declining defense budgets and fewer trade shows? Your marketing is about to improve. Here's how.  

defense contractor marketing trends

Survey RespondentsMarket Connections has released its sixth annual Federal Media & Marketing Study™. The report analyzes media usage of 3,700 federal decision makers, as well as their demographics, job function and purchasing habits. Just over one half of the respondents are in a defense- or military-related government agency.

Not surprisingly, the study's dominant thread is declining budgets. The impact of budget cuts on the federal decision makers manifests itself in less out-of-town travel to attend industry conferences, trade shows and seminars. Conversely, there is increased preference for and use of electronic media such as blogs, e-newsletters and webinars.

shrinking defense budgets

I found several changing media habits of federal decision makers that, while worrisome to defense contractors who continue to market themselves with increasingly ineffective traditional methods, are an opportunity to any company that embraces the new rules of marketing and public relations.

Here are six of the study's many findings and why they represent marketing opportunities that smart defense contractors can exploit to their advantage:

Event Attendance Is Plummeting

event attendance

Nature abhors a vacuum. If a growing number are attending fewer trade shows, conferences and industry events they are still going to want to get information to make informed acquisition decisions. This represents an opportunity for defense contractors to fill that event void with content marketing. Examples include company blogs, social media, webinars and e-newsletters.

Electronic Media Is Overwhelmingly Preferred Over Print

print vs. electronic preference

While there is and always will be a place for printed material, if the majority of your content is printed versus electronic, you're not providing information in a format that most prefer. Similarly, by providing electronic reading material, it can be updated frequently and in real time. What's more, with electronic media your content can get found by prospective buyers you don't know.

Mobile Device Usage Continues To Grow

growing mobile usage

Did you know that more Internet searches are now done on mobile devices than desktop computers? If your website and email newsletter are not mobile optimized, your content is effectively reach a shrinking audience. However, if your content is optimized for mobile devices, your company will reach more people and send a message of being technically competent.

More Than Half Now Have Social Media At Work

social media usage at work

Not long ago (circa 2010) most of the federal decision makers did not have social media at work. Now more than half do. If you've held off on using social media to help spread your content and interact with your different audiences, you're ceding ground to your competition. What's more, people without social media at work are on it at home or on their mobile devices when on the go.

The Popularity Of Blogs Continues To Grow 

blog trends

Blogs are simply articles posted to a section of your website (in reverse chronological order) that include the ability for readers to make comments and use social media to share the content. You're reading a blog right now. One of the biggest mistakes companies make with their blogs is to publish information exclusively about themselves. If you want a successful blog that generates a lot of website traffic and leads, publish information that is helpful to your prospective customers (e.g. John Deere blogs about how to be a successful farmer, American Express blogs about how to run a small business, etc.).

Defense Newsletters Are Popular


The most important thing you should be trying to do with your Internet marketing is capturing email addresses of prospective customers so that you can continue to keep in touch with them with e-newsletters and nurture them toward a sale or other desired action. But like a successful blog, your newsletter needs to have content that is interesting to and helpful for your prospective customers.

To download a free overview of the Federal Media & Marketing Study™, click here.

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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