Expert Panel Serves Up Tips and Techniques for B-to-G Marketing
At the recent Amtower Summit on Selling Products to the Government held in Baltimore, a panel of multichannel marketing experts provided the audience myriad tips and opinions on how to best find and sell to government employees. The panel consisted of David Powell, vice president of sales and marketing administration at FBC, a company that produces trade show events and conferences at federal government locations throughout the U.S.; Linda Pickering, senior vice president of B-to-B list company MeritDirect; Jim Garlow, director of advertising and marketing operations at computer equipment multichannel marketer CDW; and Peter Long, CEO of MCH, a compiler of business-to-institution (B-to-I) databases and mailing lists. Here are some of their thoughts and observations.
Powell pointed to three unique challenges in trying to market to the government:
2. Identifying the person responsible for buying what your company sells
3. Contacting that person.
That’s why face-to-face meetings take on such importance in marketing to the government, he said. The mailing is a precursor to a face-to-face marketing opportunity.
To get this relationship and trust from a government buyer, Long advised marketers show they know the industry they’re operating in and not just selling a product. He recommended that in addition to catalogs and other advertising materials, marketers should produce and distribute company-published research papers and whitepapers, which provide a service to the government. Long noted this as a way of getting around the contract obligations that restrict many government officials from accepting lunches/meals as meetings with the marketer.
Garlow advised creating long-term relationships with federal government customers. He stressed it’s about getting to know them and how your product/service is a solution for their particular government problem.
Pickering suggested creating a niche book that you can market to a targeted government audience. She reasoned that with the postage increase affecting direct marketers, it’s becoming more important than ever to make each catalog or mail piece yield better results. She cited seasonality as a major factor in selling to the government, especially the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30), when government agencies like to spend the funding they’re allocated, in hopes of securing more budget dollars next year.