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Small Business #GovCon Digital Marketing, #B2G SEO Essentials for FY2019 – Category Management, eCommerce, CSO/OTA’s

The expansive economy is both a result of and an opportunity for federal government contractors and vendors, whether seeking direct sales or contracts with the government, or a place on a Prime team or existing contract.

BLUF: Update your website for FY2019 B2G. Contact KME for your FY2019 B2G digital marketing strategy and government sales.

Let’s assume your business development fundamentals are strong, active and engaged – following FedBizOpps opportunities, examining government/agency spend analysis, establishing relationship with agencies and Primes, attending government-industry events, responding to pre-solicitation RFIs or other market research outreach. Let’s also assume you’re up to date on Fed buying trends, regulations, initiatives – such as the President’s Management Agenda “Category Management” priority, the GSA’s “Commercial Platforms Initiative”, and the DoD’s FY19 “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA).

Let’s also assume your company has a public website – that not only overviews your capabilities, products and services, but also provides up-to-date news and information.  A bonus for you, if this news content gets shared into industry, email or social channels.  Super-bonus if your digital content includes B2G acquisition audience-messaging and keywords (but that’s a long shot, particularly for small businesses with no marketing department)…

Following are three important B2G government digital marketing imperatives – B2G marketing strategies – to consider, soon and consistently.  To help the government find you, and to help Prime contract holders find and include you as well. Do it now – the average time from RFP to Award for small businesses is about 3 months; add this to the pre-RFP BD and Capture work, and you’re right up against end-of-year spending opportunities for FY2019.

Category Management – is a new government principle for consolidating, standardizing and streamlining acquisitions for more consistent performance, cost savings and risk management. This underlies the expanded use (and success) of “Best in Class” (BIC) contracts, which the government is increasingly using for more commodity-oriented products, services and solutions. As a data governance weenie myself, this is great news – more consistent terms and definitions across the acquisition space is fantastic, much like the Technology Business Management (TBM) IT categorizations adopted recently by OMB for smart IT investing. To be found, recognized and validated as appropriate within these categories, and therefore more likely to win work on a contract or with a contract-holder – examine the language, terms and subject-relationships you’re exposing across your digital content.  Do they reflect this principle, and does your SEO strategy include these terms?

eCommerce – isn’t a new concept, we all use Amazon.com, or at least know about it. Your products and services may in fact already be available through various eCommerce channels, whether 3rd-party or perhaps your own.  GSA now feels they’re the Amazon.com for government procurement (well directed to be so, via FY 2018 NDAA Section 846), and their Commercial Platforms Initiative underway is creating “a program to procure commercial products through commercial e-commerce portals for purposes of enhancing competition, expediting procurement, enabling market research, and ensuring reasonable pricing of commercial products.” So what?  Besides the myriad of SEO factors that must be addressed to achieve search visibility in an eCommerce environment (which hopefully you’re doing already), note the emphasis on “Market Research”. The phase of government acquisition that by far is most demanding of your digital marketing success, is market research – finding, assessing and validating your capabilities against the mission requirements, whether searching through Google, industry sources, or (now) the GSA eCommerce portal(s). And here’s the bonus. Your new and improved B2G SEO strategy to accommodate eCommerce, will also take into account Category Management, described earlier!

Rapid Contracting Tools – are proliferating (a.k.a. “simplified acquisition procedures”, or SAPs), including FAR-exempt Other Transaction Authorities (OTAs) and Commercial Solution Openings – at DoD, DHS and GSA. These are generally aimed at quick turnaround and attracting “non-traditional” companies entering the federal marketplace, focusing evaluation on individual merit and not necessarily on price or past performance. This means your content – printed or on the web – needs to be extremely clear and focused with respect to meeting agency mission requirements and procurement workflow. CSO responses are usually only via technical papers only, making the ability to write these, optimize them (for SEO) and support them across all other media (to support market research validation) extremely important.  Here’s the CSO process (and unsaid web activity), per GSA:

  1. We solicit commercial solutions that address current needs of Agency clients. (…after doing our market research, using Google)
  2. When there is an open area of interest, you can respond to compete for the opportunity by submitting a brief about your solution. (…and making sure your website supports the brief).
  3. If we are interested in learning more about a solution (…after checking your website out), we may invite you in for an oral presentation or invite you to submit more information to us about your solution (…and update your website).
  4. If we think there’s a good match between your solution and our client’s requirements (…after re-checking your website), we’ll invite you to provide us with a full proposal—this is the beginning of negotiating all the terms and conditions of a proposed contract.

Takeaway: Update your website for FY2019 B2G.

Bonus – find us at the upcoming Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce (GRCC) “7th Annual NoVA B2G Matchmaking Conference & Small Business EXPO” May 7, 2019!