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Why Defense Contractors Should Invest More In Content Than Events

Is your defense firms' business development being crimped by cutbacks to government travel and events? You can fill that void with content marketing.

Defense Contractor Content Marketing

It’s no surprise to defense contractors that there are fewer conferences and events these days. And for the foreseeable future there will be fewer events at which face-to-face business development can take place.

While Pentagon officials have relied on conferences and trade shows to learn about new technologies and innovative solutions from defense contractors, that is changing. Shrinking budgets and increasing travel limitations are putting the squeeze on the long-standing practices of conferences and events.

declining government events
A Government Event Attendance PulsePoll™ from Market Connections, Inc. and Boscobel Marketing Communications confirms the negative implications of government travel and event cutbacks on both federal agencies and government contractors.

A significant 77% of government respondents agreed that "industry needs to become more creative in informing and educating government customers.”

Industry needs alternative methods to reach agencies to continue to provide the latest information, solutions and best practices they require.

The study's government respondents indicated how they plan to fill the information/training gap created by fewer events:

  • Webinars (55%)
  • Publications (52%)
  • Reviewing websites related to their fields (48%)
  • Discussions with coworkers (43%)
  • White papers and case studies (35%)
  • Listening to podcasts and online videos (33%)
  • Discussions with current vendors (19%)

So what’s a defense contractor to do to gain access to their customers (and prospective customers)?

Since more than 60% of government employees and contractors believe that maintaining best practices will be more difficult, thought leadership is now critical and branding campaigns should be transformed into thought leadership programs. –Market Connections Study

Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen describes thought leadership this way:

I would define a thought leader as someone who stands above subject-matter expertise and is an authority in their field. And they have to be able to prove that expertise with a track record. Think of it this way: subject-matter expertise resides within a company. Thought leadership resides within an industry. Thought leaders provide clarity, especially to industries that are in flux. They teach.

The foundation of a thought leadership program is original content that you publish online in the form of a blog, eBooks, white papers, videos, webinars, etc. Gone are the days when only the largest companies could afford to publish printed materials and mail them to current and prospective customers.

Similarly, in the recent past, for a thought leadership program to take flight, a company had to go through a media gatekeeper like a trade publication. Now, companies are publishing straight to the Internet where they are being found by prospective customers that they might not have even known existed.

Thought leadership programs build contractor credibility, which aids in capturing those must-win contracts. Incorporating third-party research will further strengthen thought leadership tools such as white papers, reports and content-driven websites and campaigns. Integrating lead generation tactics can position your company as a thought leader while educating the government community on the latest innovations and technologies. –Market Connections Study

An example of this type of content marketing is being done by Raytheon and CSC. But defense contractors should not be intimidated by the size and revenues of large companies successfully pursuing thought leadership efforts. Small firms can do it as well.

How small can a company be and still do an effective content marketing effort? Smaller than you think. I’ll use myself as an example.

I spend anywhere from 5-10 hours a week writing and promoting this blog. (And I’m also running a marketing agency.) The out-of-pocket costs for this blog are less than $1,000/year (of course, that does not include the cost for my time which is the primary expense).

So now, even small to medium-size defense contractor can successfully pursue and benefit from a content marketing effort to fill the gaps created by fewer conferences and events.

To download the Government Event Attendance PulsePoll™, click here (registration required).

photo credit: Tom Purves via photopin cc

douglasburdett
douglasburdett
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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