Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Arrow/immixGroup Government IT Sales Summit Returns Nov 15 for Year 5!

One of my favorite annual events, and my absolute favorite fall event, the Government IT Sales Summit, turns 5 on November 15.

If you are one of the unfortunate few who has not attended prior Summits, let me explain.

There are two major reasons to attend GovCon events, and they are not food and free pens. The big reasons have always been education and networking, somewhere you can pick up market intel AND meet key players in the GovCon community- manufacturers, systems integrators and the channel.

Since the first Summit back on November 20, 2014 both the education and networking have been first rate.

There are  very few events that bring together executives, BD, sales and marketing in a networking friendly environment. This is the main event that accomplishes that, hosting 1,000 or so manufacturers, channel players, SIs and key Feds.

I have attended each of the four previous Summits and every year I have  made great new connections and renewed many old acquaintances. Seeing those I have known and worked with previously and catching up on what they are doing now, face-to-face, and sharing what new things I am up to, has enormous value for me.

Register today and come find me there on November 15 at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, VA.

Let's catch up if we've met, and meet if we have not!

And by the way, there will also be food, and probably pens.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

930Gov and the End of FY 2018

The 6th annual 930Gov Conference is coming August 28 at the Washington DC Convention Center.

930Gov has five technology-focused tracks, each important to every federal agency:

- Cyber and IT Security
- Records Management
- Government Customer Experience
- Knowledge, Information and Data Management
- IT Modernization

Mike Smoyer, President of the Digital Government Institute, which produces 930Gov, has a history of being involved with successful GovCon events going back to his days at National Trade Productions, producers of FOSE, and later, FedMicro, the mid-summer end-of-FY event that ran in the early and mid 1990s.

When Mike took over the Digital Government Institute in 2007, DGI was producing some very focused IT events for the GovCon market.

While DGI still does the single-tech focused events, each of which evolves as the technology evolves, he saw the need for that end-of-FY, DC-based multi-track tech focused event.

930Gov will attract somewhere around 1,200 federal technologists, most of whom are in charge of managing and deploying technologies in their respective agencies.

I have been recommending this event to my clients for four of the past five years, and I do so again this year. I could not recommend the event in year one because it had no track record. I told Mike that at the time, but I also told him I felt his instincts were correct in starting an end-of-FY event.

There is a simple reason for my annual recommendation: end-of-FY has always represented a significant spending spike and not all of the money available is queued into a pre-determined slot. While this is not the only reason for my recommendation, it is a major factor.

An equally important reason would be the networking and the ability to begin relationships with key feds and perhaps other contractors.

Since year two, my clients have been pleased with the results. While there are not tens of thousands of attenders, neither are there hundreds of exhibitors. The exhibitors are all tabletop, with no mega-booth dominating the show floor. This makes it a level playing field for the smaller companies in the exhibit hall.

With 1,200 or so attenders and fewer exhibitors, the likelihood of exhibitors getting face time with attenders is very real.

Two former and two current clients will be exhibiting and two other clients will be attending and I am looking forward to their feedback. One of these companies is back for at least their third year in a row.

I will be speaking at 930Gov, although not in one of the tech tracks. I will be addressing the importance of building and leveraging a subject matter expert position in the market, this in a conference where the speakers are subject matter experts and front line managers of  some key technologies.

I am very much looking forward to the 2018 version of 930Gov.

I hope to see you there and I welcome your feedback on the event.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

What were they thinking?!?!?!

Let me start by picking a 16 year old scab. In 2002, PwC tried (briefly) to rename itself Monday.

This is not, repeat NOT, a joke.

The response was swift, merciless and came from all fronts: the business media, Wall Street, comedians, shareholders, employees and industry.

One of my favorite responses was this:

“The day of the week formerly known as Monday would like to announce its name change to distance itself from PWC Consulting. Forthwith it will be known as Tuesday Eve.”

They reverted to PwC before the following Monday... but it begs the question: What were they thinking?

Now comes the news that PwCs spinoff is named Guidehouse. (This actually happened in May, so I am a little behind.)

Wait- what? You mean Lighthouse?

No Guidehouse.

Maybe Brickhouse?

No Guidehouse.

Not outhouse?

No Guidehouse.

Safe House?

No Guidehouse.

Dog house?

No Guidehouse.

Doll house?

No Guidehouse.

OK, so what's a guidehouse?

I crack open my OED and look:

Guidebook- check.

Guided Imagery- check (ooo- I like that one).

Guidepost- check (I like that one, too).

Guide rope- check.

Guideway - check.

Guidehouse? Nothing.

In PwCs defense, it does not own Guidehouse. Veritas Capital owns Guidehouse. The new website explains the name as "leading the way forward" and "looking into tomorrow through an innovative lens that challenges the now."

OK, a sherpa with a crystal ball. I'm beginning to see it.

The Washington Technology article quotes the CEO of Guidehouse as saying the name is a "metaphor for Guidehouse staffers being a trusted partner to help agencies navigate their changing landscapes regarding budget, technology and strategy."

A metaphor? Guidehouse means all that? Really?

But what's in a name? Perhaps another name that launched a thousand jokes...

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Why the 2018 Federal Government Contractor Study is Essential for Small Contractors

This past Tuesday I attended the briefing for Market Connection's latest study, 2018 The Federal Government Contractor Study. The study was co-sponsored by the Professional Services Council and the Merritt Group .

The goals of the study included

- identifying best practices of winning government contractors
- identifying the challenges of marketing and business development professionals
- determining how marketing and BD are organized and how they work together
- measure the effectiveness of marketing materials, activities and tools
- determine strategies used when targeting and responding to RFPs
- and to quantify changes in personnel, budget, tools, teaming partners and communications.

I am not going to do a deep dive here. Instead I will highlight what I consider to be some key points for small contractors, the areas you must pay attention to in order to succeed. I strongly urge you to download the study overview and review it with your staff.

On page nine (9), the first page of the findings, there is the list of Organization Capability Ratings, which include:

- demonstrating thought leadership and subject matter expertise
- government customer relationship management
- readiness to adjust to changing government acquisition strategies
- differentiating from the competition
- capturing and managing customer, prospect and contract data
- overall marketing investment
- providing the sales organization with marketing support
- lead generation
- tactical business development/sales efforts
- and moving leads and prospects through the sales funnel.

I have highlighted three areas above as critical for small contractors. Small contractors have fewer resources than larger firms, and while each of the above is important, the three I highlighted can provide the most traction for smaller firms in a shorter period of time.

Thought leadership/subject matter expertise (SME): I have been preaching this sermon for years, and it remains perhaps the most critical issue for small biz: highlight your main area of expertise and develop it it fully. Work hard to be at or near the top of whatever that niche is.

Defining and defending that area of expertise should be job one. Job two is making certain you share this SME status in the major places people will vet you: your company web site and your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn.

Differentiation: is part of the SME platform development. There are many ways to differentiate your company from the competition, including:

- unique process or technology
- staff has higher level certifications/training
- company possesses cert levels not held by many (CMMI Level 3, etc)
- higher level of service (aside from lip service)
- specialization in a horizontal area (finance, transportation, supply chain, etc)
- specializing is one agency
- and many more.

You can further differentiate by combining two or more of these. Defined and used well, your differentiators can help you win more business sooner.

"Differentiation beyond price" is a recurrent theme in this study

Tactical business development and sales efforts: contractors with fewer resources need to focus on activities that get traction quickly. These efforts need to focus on your core talent, the SME areas where you have the best chance for near-term growth.

I address these and other areas in my small contractor advisory program for 2018-2019.

There are many facets of this study I have not addressed that are equally important. I will be writing and speaking about over the next few months.

If you'd like to discuss my Small Business Advisory Program email me at mark@federaldirect.net or reserve time on my calendar:  https://calendly.com/markamtower

I'd also be interested in your take-aways after you read the study preview. What stood out for you?

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Small Contractor Alert: Networking and Education July 26 at the AFCEA Small Business Innovation Summit

The upcoming July 26 AFCEA Small Business Innovation Summit follows on the heels of the AFCEA Innovation Shark Tank, where small contractors competed for the right to present at the Innovation Summit. The three winners from these events are on the agenda of the Summit.

The Small Business Innovation Summit will address cutting edge technologies where small contractors can play a big role: AI, Zero Trust Networks, Agile DevOps, Blockchain, the Space Revolution, and 5G. The presenters on these panels are among the most experienced techies from industry and government.

There will also be panels on OTAs (contracts for Research and Development) and a panel for communicating your company’s unique value. The communication panel is moderated by my friend, the wise and wonderful Sarah Djamshidi, a true veteran of the small business IT trenches. I have been invited to participate on this panel.

This Small Business Innovation Summit can help a small business identify growth areas and map out a go-to-market strategy. It affords you the opportunity to network with peers and to meet market influencers.

I look forward to each speaking engagement and try to prepare my remarks based on the expected audience.

There are many issues facing small businesses in this market and any time I get to help companies make small (or large) strategy adjustments, I feel like I am doing my part.

AFCEA conferences are my favorites, especially those focused on small business. They always have an engaged audience, eager to brain-pick, network and absorb info from some great presenters.

I will also be attending the Market Connections Federal Contractor Study overview on July 17; speaking at the Government Blockchain Association event July 19; and on August 28 I will be speaking at 930Gov, the best end-of-FY conference now in year 6!

Each of these events affords opportunities for any contractor, especially for small contractors.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Recognition for GovCon marketing professionals: The GAINER awards

In the government market there have been lots of awards for as long as I can remember.

But there has never been anything specific for the B2G marketing professional.

Until now.

Government Marketing University has launched the GAINER Awards to recognize excellence in public sector marketing.

This is long past due and I am honored to be among those reviewing the nominees. Joining me on the Selection Committee are GovCon veterans Steve Cooper, Martha Dorris, Kimberly Hancher and Ann-Marie Clark.

Know a marketing program that should be considered, or have you created one yourself? Nominate it!


There are five categories: ABM, Events, Partner Marketing, Protege (yes, one for newbies!) and Innovation.


  • Must have executed the marketing program between April 1, 2017 thru June 1, 2018
  • Applicants (individual, companies or agencies) may enter multiple submissions in one or more award categories.
  • Award winners must be willing to share marketing case study at GAIN conference on November 1, 2018.
  • Entries are for those projects which are targeting US federal, state and local governments along with public and private educational institutions.
  • Entries close August 1, 2018.
For more information, contact Ann-Marie Clark at amclark@gmarku.com or 703-625-5224.
And just like the lottery- you gotta play (nominate) to win!
The awards will be presented at GMarkU's annual GAIN Conference November 1 at the Hyatt Regency, Reston.
I hope to see you at the conference and I'd like to see your nomination very soon!

Friday, June 22, 2018

2018-2019 Small GovCon Advisory Program

Amtower Small Biz GovCon Advisory Program 

Do you want deeper and better connections with your government clients and prospects?

Do you need better relationships with system integrators (SIs)?

Do you want more traction from your contracts?

Does your limited networking time pay dividends?

Do you want better traction in FY 2019?

If you answered yes to one or more of these, read on.

End of FY 2018 is rapidly approaching and it should be a hot one with lots of budget money coming into play late in the FY again this year. SmartPay (yes, even the government charge card) and IDIQs and MACs will play a big role.

And it looks like FY 2019 will be another challenging year: probably another continuing resolution, possible shutdown, further changes in agency programs and policies, senior personnel, additional changes in procurement policy, and more.

All these will impact small businesses in a big way, so you must be prepared.

Leveraging your current contracts, especially direct or indirect access to MACs, IDIQs and GWACs can help you weather this storm. Many (including me) expect agency use of IDIQs and GWACs to continue to grow into FY 2019. Your access as a prime or partner on these contracts can be critical. Look for growth on SEWP, Alliant, OASIS, and other MACs and GWACs, as well as portions of the GSA Schedule. 

If your company is not performing up to your expectations, or if you feel that your strategy is not paying adequate dividends, we should talk.

My guidance has helped hundreds of companies grow and earn billions. My advice can save you time and money, lead to new opportunities, identify key differentiators leading to significant market share, create media coverage, and generally help companies establish a more viable and visible presence in the government market. For over thirty years I have helped my clients to dramatically increase the dollar value of their contracts, often spending less on marketing.

If your marketing and business development efforts are not paying significant dividends, we should talk now.

I offer a year-long Small Biz GovCon Advisory Program. Rather than charge an hourly fee to companies tapping into my expertise on a semi-regular basis, I have created an advisory program that small companies can afford.

This program is only for businesses recognized as small by SBA standards: SDB, WOSB, VOSB, SDVOSB, 8(a), HubZone, etc.

The Amtower GovCon Advisory Program includes

                 An initial planning session to define realistic goals for our engagement. This will provide the overall program guidance for the year, including development of a targeted visibility plan that makes the most sense for you and your company. We can make alterations along the way as necessary; 

           - A detailed web site review with recommendations;

              -  A LinkedIn company profile review with recommendations and edits;

               -  Monthly training sessions (30-45 minute sessions), content to be determined in the planning session. Training modules offered include LinkedIn training; content development; developing a subject matter expert platform; social selling; PR/media training; market research and more. Each session tailored to the client and all sessions pre-scheduled;

              - Email alerts with news about your niche, competitors and other topics addressed in the planning session. I will monitor Google Alerts and selected trade publications for each participant;

            - Bi-weekly calls to track your progress, address problem areas, discuss opportunities and more;

             - Strategic introductions to primes, OEMs, various market experts, media and government managers;

              - Unlimited email and short call Q&A;

             - Advice on selecting outside services (events, associations, bidding services, proposal assistance, etc).

       - Access to me for an entire FY.

Please call 301 854 9493 or email markamtower@gmail.com with any questions or to sign up. 

I can only accept twelve participants.

The investment for this program is $2,495 down, and $995 per month for an annual total of $13,040.


Mark Amtower     Amtower & Company     www.FederalDirect.net