Government contracting has developed into a very competitive marketplace, thanks to its potential for being very profitable. Companies of all sizes, from small, micro-firms with one employee to large, mega-firms with thousands of employees have been successful in selling products and services to government agencies at the federal, state, city, county and municipal levels. However, the competition for government contracts has heightened as more companies try to break into, be competitive in, and stay successful in this market.
If you are considering sourcing your products and services to the government you will need to target the right agencies. Conducting preliminary market research and implementing strategies that are specifically designed for the private sector can prepare you to lead in the market over your competition. Marketing to the government is quite different from marketing to the commercial industry and large corporations. Here are four steps that will prepare you to compete for government contracts and add value to your business brand in the private sector marketplace.
- Research your market. There are several options available to businesses interested in public sector work. Smaller companies may want to start at the local and state levels, while mid-to-medium size companies can target federal agencies for opportunities. It is important to target the right agencies at the right levels of government in order to secure a contract that is the right size for your company.
- Research business certification programs. Most government organizations recognize business enterprise certification programs. Once you have targeted the right government market, you will want to learn about its supplier diversity initiatives and the types of certifications that they recognize. Certifications are a great marketing tool for government suppliers. Each agency will differ so you will want to focus on the programs that will be the most advantageous for your market.
- Research your procurement system codes. Once you have targeted your agency you should research the appropriate commodity codes for your market prior to your vendor registrations. Most local governments at the municipal level will use the NationalInstitute of Government Purchasing (NIGP) Commodity Codes, the federal government uses the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) (NAICS), However, some agencies such as the State of Florida has its own procurement coding system and commodity codes. Using the right codes for your products and services is important to receiving qualified bids. It will reduce your workload and make your bid activity more manageable.
- Research the competition. Before applying for government work it is important to learn about your competitors. Finding out who is currently doing performing government contracts can teach you a lot about how to prepare for the contract before it expires. It will also assist you in creating a values proposition statement and developing differentiators that will help you company stand out and separate your business from the pack.
There are organizations out there that are available to help small businesses navigate through the government contracting arena. The Florida SBDC has government contracting services that can connect you to invaluable programs and tools to help you strengthen your market position in the government space. These services include consulting sessions with industry experts, bid match resources that connect you to opportunities and specialized reports that provide unique business intelligence and insight to the government procurement processes.