Defense contractors' websites and social media are playing an increasingly important role in selling to the military. According to an expert in selling to the government, this is a growing success factor that will become more pronounced.
Mark Amwtower, “Godfather of Government Marketing” and author of "Selling to the Government: What It Takes to Compete and Win in the World's Largest Market" is an expert in marketing to the government. In 1985 he founded Amtower & Associates to help clients do just that.
In a Washington Technology article, Amtower outlines how he has seen government marketing trends come and go. He argues, however, that there are five trends affecting government contractors that are gaining traction and cannot be ignored.
Two of the trends are related to: 1) websites, and 2) the use of social media.
Company web sites of the most successful contractors will become more informationally robust. While the company website is considered a basic, it is often taken for granted. Many ‘must do’s’ are overlooked, usually because a new shiny rock has shown up on the marketing horizon. Among those ‘must do’s’ is making the site content relevant and current, so updating the company website on a regular basis for relevance is a big must-do. Staid and stagnant web sites will not attract repeat traffic and never have. The companies that grow over the next few years will have robust, content-rich web sites.
Amtower asserts that from a marketing standpoint "there are no trend-setters in this market because the government is slow in adopting most things and contractors tend to follow the feds." However, government contractors' websites are catching up to the private sector.
There is a growing realization in the private sector marketing world that those who educate their customers the best will profit the most. This realization is now working its way to government contractors.
Government contractors who use their websites to educate prospective buyers and build preference will be more successful. Rather than having a static, "electronic brochure" website, contractors who have timely and information-rich content on their websites will win more contracts. If a government buyer's question is not proactively answered on your website, she will go to your competitor's site.
Amtower also mentions that developing relationships in selling is no different whether you're selling to the government or to the private sector.
However, as it becomes more difficult for government buyers to attend events to network and share ideas, developing those relationships is going to become even more challenging. Enter social media.
Social media is helping sellers build relationships with government buyers:
Use of social media, especially LinkedIn, will expand more rapidly than ever. In early 2010 LinkedIn had 50 million members. By early 2013 it will break 200 million, including tens of thousands of key feds. Those without a robust social media presence will lose market share in direct proportion to their social media inactivity. While many may adopt social media, most will not bother to understand how to leverage each tool they adopt. Misuse of social media is often worse than non-use. Proper use of social networking allows you to become more visible and more credible to a larger audience faster than ever before.
Click here to read "Five 2013 Trends You Can't Ignore."
What do you think? What challenges and trends are you seeing in selling to the government? Please share your comments below.