Sunday, January 13, 2019

Q1 2019: Amtower Milestones

Please pardon me while I reflect for a few minutes. I have three anniversaries in Q1 of the new year and they are making me think back, and think forward.

1/1/19 marks the beginning of my 35th year as Amtower & Company;

2/11/19 is the start of my 15th year on LinkedIn;

and on 3/7/19 I start my 12th year on Federal News Radio.

Over that time I . . .

   - produced over 200 seminars and workshops, 3 conferences, and have done countless in-house workshops and briefings for clients

  - spoke at over 350 other events and conferences, including breakout sessions, lunch speeches and keynotes around the country (below, keynoting SEWP conference in Austin in 2010)

  - was the first to offer LinkedIn training for GovCon (2009) in both public sessions and in-house sessions (two workshops in March)

  - have written 7 books, including Government Marketing Best Practices (2005) and Selling to the Government (2011)

  - penned nearly 100 articles for Washington Technology

  - appeared on over 50 radio stations and podcasts, across the US, Canada and Great Britain

  - have been on the Board of Advisers for two major trade shows

  - with Carl Peckinpaugh, co-chaired the election that saved IAC (yes, that IAC) from extinction

  - pissed off more than a few people

  - am currently on the Small Business Committee of AFCEA International

  - been interviewed or quoted in over 200 publications worldwide- the latest being the current PSC Service Contractor

  - have also referred reporters and editors to other GovCon experts when I was not the right person for their question

  - published the Amtower Government Market Report (now The Amtower Report) since 1991 (2 year hiatus in the late 1990s)

  - have studied what works in marketing to niches inside the federal government as if it were an academic discipline

- and speaking of academic, have been an Adjunct Professor on the Government Contracting Master's degree program at George Washington University since 2015.

I learn from each of these, then I study, reflect and share my thoughts.

When I started Amtower & Company direct marketing- snail mail - was a big part of the marketing equation. along with telemarketing (real cold calling), traditional PR and events. Part of my studying back then was to get tours of federal mailrooms conducted by federal Mail Managers.

When email and the web landed in the mid-1990s, the tools for marketing evolved for the first time in decades.

A few years later when the web 2.0 tools came into play, including video, webinars, podcasts and social networks, more elements were tossed into our mix.

I see lots of very talented GovCon marketing professionals out there, both the experienced and the up-and-coming. I hear from some and would welcome hearing from more to hear and see what they are doing as these tools evolve.

So I continue to learn from each of these, then I study, reflect and share my thoughts with my clients, listeners, readers and those I occasionally get to brainstorm with, including:

Steve Bain (who attended one of my first LinkedIn speeches over 10 years ago and we've been in touch ever since),

ORock's Allan Rubin,

VMware's Christina Morrison,

Guy Timberlake,

Mark Meudt, who I've had the pleasure of working with on and off since the mid-1990s,

the Government Marketing University tag-team Lou Anne Brossman and Ann-Marie Clark,

market research diva Lisa Dezzutti,

immixGroup's Rita Walston,

Judy Bradt, who gave me my first public speaking gig back in the late 1980s,

Lee Fredreriksen,

GovExec's Connie Sayers,

Danielle Brigida (the only Fed on my list. We geeked out over social media on air),

Larry Allan,

Bob Lohfeld,

ViON's Liz Anthony,

Sage's Larry Rosenfeld,

PSC's David Berteau,

Carl Dickson,

my Bloomberg friends Kevin Brancato and Dan Snyder,

WashTech editor Nick Wakeman,

event experts David Powell (FBC), Peg Hosky (Hosky Communications) and Mike Smoyer,

and so many others. I am fortunate to have so many I can share thoughts and brainstorm with and just let the concepts and opinions flow and begin to develop.

Having the radio show gives me the opportunity to discuss issues impacting our market (on air and off air) with some great GovCon minds, and it affords me the opportunity to showcase them as well.

So, I have done a few things, watched many others, thought about them, and shared my thoughts, trying to add value to the overall equation that is marketing to the government.

And I am far from being done.

As always, I welcome your feedback.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

LinkedIn for GovCon live workshop returns March 13 (Howard County) and March 14 (Tysons)

Can LinkedIn help you win more government business?

Yes, in more ways that you might think.

It can also hurt those that don't use it well.

LinkedIn remains the most under-utilized marketing tool for many government contractors despite a federal population of over 2,000,000 LinkedIn members.

"Mark provided LinkedIn training for our firm and I was thrilled with the results. We have some pretty sophisticated LinkedIn users on staff and I thought they would tell me they knew everything there was to know about how to use this tool, but even our expert users learned a lot from Mark. We spent a full day together learning how to fully use the features and capabilities of LinkedIn. Mark provided a comprehensive training program and one on one coaching. He did a great job and I am proud to recommend him as an expert LinkedIn trainer and coach." 

Robert Lohfeld, CEO, Lohfeld Consulting Group

Are you a business leader, sales manager or small business owner who wants your sales, marketing and BD staff to-

• Grow their professional network of customer, prospects, and partners?

• Connect with more decision makers through introductions and referrals?

• Increase their visibility and value by sharing valuable information?


Then LinkedIn for Government Contractors is what you need - and seating is limited!

I have a member of LinkedIn since Feb 11, 2004 and have been coaching people and companies on using LinkedIn since 2009 – 10 years- over 60 public sessions and nearly 100 in-house sessions, plus hundreds with 1:1 coaching.

"The LinkedIn class was excellent and I learned a great deal." 
Federal marketing manager, SAS Institute

When was the last time you asked yourself if you are using LinkedIn to your full advantage?

Contractors that “get” LinkedIn will do much better than those that don’t “get” it. Why?
Who is on LinkedIn?

ALL Federal agencies- 2,000,000+ Feds;
ALL major government contractors;
ALL the people you need to know!

Do you need to grow and better manage a network of clients, prospects, partners, GovCon influencers, media and others in your market?

Do you need to generate qualified leads, do some great marketing and get some PR for your company without breaking the bank?

Rather than spend thousands on lead generation, marketing and PR with minimal results, why not invest 3 hours learning how to use the biggest and most valuable business network in the universe – LinkedIn!

This workshop is for those who sell to the government AND those who sell to government contractors.

You must register in advance to attend-

"Mark Amtower is a "mile wide and a mile deep" with his experience and expertise of "All Things LinkedIn" ...He has transformed from one of the first key LinkedIn adopters 14 years ago to one of the world's leading subject matter experts today in leveraging the capabilities and technologies of LinkedIn -- now the world's most important social media platform for businesses of all sizes and scopes … Mark's seminars on LinkedIn are entertaining, insightful and -- most important -- a key value differentiator for any business in any industry."  

Kevin P Young

Attend the LinkedIn for Government Contractors and you will learn how to

-       Design a LinkedIn strategy that fits your business goals

-       Create a powerful LinkedIn profile that attracts targeted prospects and encourages people to connect with you

-       Drive traffic to your company profile and company web site

-       Find and connect with those who can help your business grow- prospects, partners, media and more- including key agency decision makers

-       Select the LinkedIn groups that can pay major dividends for you

-       Find and develop content to share in those groups

-       Get more recommendations and endorsements

-       Get on the radar of decision-makers who buy what you sell

-       Develop and defend a “subject matter expert” platform

-       Create and manage a company profile that attracts the right people

-       Start your own group

-       Stand out in your market niche

-       and much more!

"His 2013 presentation before the APMP NCA Chapter, How Proposal and Capture Professionals Can Leverage LinkedIn, was our most popular event of the year."

(from the Association of Proposal Management Professionals National Capitol Chapter web site.)

Due to the constant changes on LinkedIn, the workbook and slides are updated before EVERY Session.

My LinkedIn training is the best in the government market and it is a game-changer for those who attend our public sessions and for those that choose to bring our training in-house.

$245/seat- Only 12 seats per session- and you must register in advance.

Reserve your seat today!

Who should attend? Everyone!

Beverages, snacks and a 100 page pdf workbook are supplied.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2019 Goals- and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What’s on Your New Year’s Business To-Do List?

Have you thought about your profession goals for in 2019? What do you want to do better? What things would you like to get done? Has something been on the back burner too long?

Two weeks back I wrote about becoming even more engaged in the GovCon community through networking events, LinkedIn and speaking. Becoming more engaged is my primary goal for 2019.

This includes my work with the AFCEA Small Business Committee, attending PSC MarCom events (as long as I am invited), attending Bloomberg events, and others.

LinkedIn will be a big part of this, reaching out to people I have not spoken with in a while, and occasionally going for coffee.

My own seminars will be back on a quarterly basis through my partnership with Offit Kurman, so I will be hosting seminars in Tysons and Maple Lawn.

I will work hard to sustain my speaking schedule of 20+ events a year, so if you need a speaker with an opinion, you know where to find me.

Oh yeah- and I’ll write more, and start podcasting.

What’s on your list?

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!

Mark Amtower

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Building Your Subject Matter Expert Platform to Fill Your Pipeline

Building Your SME Platform to Fill Your Pipeline:
2019 Consultant Advisory Program

If you are looking to establish, grow and fill the pipeline of your solo or small consulting practice, we need to talk.

I have been operating as Amtower & Company in the government contracting arena since January, 1985, and I have always been a one-man band. Over the years I have learned, usually the hard way, was that filling the pipeline does not occur by itself: it takes planning, solid execution and often revised or updated planning.

Among the things I did in my early years was to start a newsletter that offered both tips and observations on what others were doing. Then I produced the first ever “Marketing to the Government” in January of 1991, which led me to produce a bunch of public seminars and three conferences.

One of my seminar attendees told me about a business marketing conference that would benefit from a B2G workshop, so the following year (and 3 after that) I was a featured speaker at Direct Marketing to Business (1992-1995) – which led me to helping more than thirty B2B catalog companies successfully enter the B2G arena.

During this period I also developed relationships with reporters and editors at business and marketing magazines as well as the government trade press – and I started getting quoted and writing articles…and getting more business as a result.

At each step along the way I took action, often resulting in business with new clients.
And somewhere along the line I became a SME…and I want to share that with you.

How do you decide which actions are going to be best for you?

I am offering a six-month, one-on-one program to help you take your consulting business to the next level, to expedite the process of attaining your SME status.

The program consists of video-teleconferences, telephone and email support to help you define your goals and build your SME platform.

-         Define your area of expertise in terms that resonate with your audience

-         Create a content marketing strategy that will put you on the radar of your prospect audience and move you up the visibility food chain

-         Fine-tune your LinkedIn profile and company page and develop a results-focused LinkedIn presence that works for you 24/7/365

-         Develop an ongoing learning system for you so you can stay among the “most informed” and have the ability to share pertinent information with your network

-         Ultimately assist you in creating a subject matter expert platform in the market which will help you grow your business.

My goal with this program is to help you build your SME platform and make it easier to get your message to a targeted audience.

Isn’t it time to invest in yourself?

After signing up, we’ll have a one-on-one strategy session to map out where you are and where you want to go, defining your goals and creating an action plan we can both follow. During the session we’ll discuss the areas where you need assistance and how to sequence them.

We will continue our one-on-one sessions twice each month focusing on those areas we mapped out in the strategy session. Each call will be preceded by me sending a short PowerPoint or bullet sheet on the action items and my thoughts on what you’ve done and what you need to do.

The program will also consist of twice monthly 30-40 minute web-based sessions via Zoom, for a total of at least 12 sessions. These will include leveraging various aspects of LinkedIn, developing the SME platform, content marketing, and some coaching from experts on venues like podcasting, blogging and webinars. These sessions will be for all participants of the program.

Six months of 1:1 coaching to take your consulting business to the next level includes

-         twice monthly 30-40 minute calls to keep you focused on your goals, discuss your progress and adjust. These will be mini-brainstorm sessions and include LinkedIn tips/tricks, media coaching, content development and more;

-         twice monthly ZOOM sessions focused on social selling, developing the SME platform, content marketing, media relations and more. These sessions will be for all who sign up;

-         regular news feeds from me to help you find information you can absorb, share and comment on;

     -         ideas for getting speaking gigs;

-         association selection and involvement;

-         I will also be available for short (unscheduled) calls (via my calendly app) and through email inquiries.
While I’d love to do mentoring for free, we all need to make a living. However, I want to make this as affordable as possible so the investment for this is $495/month, payable on the first of each month (total $2,970).
I can offer a discount with a one-time up-front investment of $2,475, which gives you one month for free.
This program runs from January 1 – June 30, 2019. December 2018 is a bonus month for those signing up early.
All training will be done via phone, Skype or ZOOM. Taking into account most of us have day jobs, some one-on-one time may be scheduled for early evening or Saturdays. Zoom sessions are for the entire cadre and will be early morning, evening or Saturday to accommodate as many as possible.
If you are good at what you do and are interested in going to the next level, send me an email or give me a call.
And let's get started!
Mark Amtower
301 854 9493

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

5 Reasons YOU Need to Attend LinkedIn for GovCon

With over 2 million feds on LinkedIn and all major contractors (small and large alike), LinkedIn has become ubiquitous in the government market.  It has become the place for vetting companies and individuals (and where you are vetted), marketing and social selling, reaching out to influencers and potential partners to build business networks, to recruit key staff and much more.

Research from Market Connections and from Government Executive Media Group's Market Preview show the growth and reach of LinkedIn in our market.

But LinkedIn continues to morph, changing in ways that frustrate most users and makes it more difficult to do things we could do a few short years ago. We all need to learn how to respond to these changes and maximize the value of LinkedIn for our own purposes.

LinkedIn still offers one platform, one place where you can still do many business activities that will help you position and grow your business - and many of these things you can do for free, without the paid membership.

If you are not using LinkedIn well, you are losing business.

Here are five reasons to attend the upcoming (Dec 4, 5 & 6) workshops.

#1: Your target audience is here. ALL federal agencies and major operating divisions are are LinkedIn. Even the IC is represented, although in much smaller numbers. Nearly 2.1 million feds are on LinkedIn.

#2: 30-40% of the feds on LinkedIn have program or project management responsibilities or are in other management positions. When approached properly, many of these feds are open to connecting. These are the people who need to know who you are and what you do.

#3: Thought Leadership. You can use LinkedIn to develop a subject matter expert position for your SMEs and/or your company to stand out from your competitors.

#4:  24/7/365 free advertising when your employee profiles and your company profile are done well.

#5: Lead generation occurs when you use LinkedIn like a pro- and this workshop will take you there.

$195/seat- Only 15 seats per session- and you must register in advance.

8171 Maple Lawn Boulevard
Suite 200
Maple Lawn, MD 20759

4800 Montgomery Lane
9th Floor
Bethesda, MD 20814

8000 Towers Crescent Drive
Suite 1500
Tysons Corner, Virginia 22182

Note: Each workshop is being held in the conference rooms of Offit Kurman.

Reserve your seat today!

Who should attend? Everyone in GovCon, but especially sales and BD managers and professionals, marketing teams, CEOs of small contractors and anyone interested in making LinkedIn pay dividends!

Beverages, snacks and the 200 page pdf of the slides are supplied.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

SEWP tops $5 billion in FY18; Rob Coen moves to OASIS

I attended the 25th anniversary for the SEWP program last week at their offices in Greenbelt.

The weather not great, but it did not stop most from attending. I drove 2 hours from Tysons, where I was speaking at the APMP NCA annual conference. Rush hour plus rain, I knew it was going to take a while. I just wanted to arrive before the party was over.

SEWP was the first GWAC awarded back in 1993 and is the longest running GWAC. SEWP V is the fifth iteration of the program, and is considered by many to be the best managed contract in the federal market.

I made it to the party with an hour to spare, including the cake cutting.
I was able to spend a little time with SEWP program manager Joanne Woytek and deputy program manager Darlene Coen.

During my conversation with Joanne it came out that SEWP V produced $5.3 billion in booked business in FY 2018. They had close to 32,000 new orders processed with committed funds of $4.21B and approximately 8,000 mods to existing orders processed with newly committed funds of $1.14B. So total new spend through SEWP in FY18 is $5.35 Billion, a 20% increase over FY17.

Many have predicted the growing use of GWACs and selected IDIQs was palpable, and SEWPs performance is a great example of that.

Congratulations to the SEWP staff for a great year!

*** PS: I say above that SEWP is widely considered to be the best run contract in the government. I am among those who think so. Note however that Rob Coen, former PM of the NITAAC GWACs (CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Biz, and CIO-CS, was just named to run the OASIS program. At NITAAC Rob took the program from pocket change (roughly $300 million) to almost $5 billion during his tenure. I expect no less from him at OASIS.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

2019 (and Beyond) Small Contractor Marketing & BD Program

Amtower Small Biz GovCon Advisory Program 

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

Do you need to develop relationships with system integrators (SIs)?

Do you need more visibility in your market niche?

Do you want more traction from your contracts?

Does your limited networking time pay dividends?

Do you want better traction in FY 2019 and going into FY 2020?

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

FY 2019 is going to be a hot one with lots of budget money coming into play early. SmartPay micro-purchase is now $10,000. IDIQs, GWACs and MACs will play a bigger role.

It will also be another challenging year, especially for small contractors, with further changes in agency programs and policies, senior personnel, additional changes in procurement policy, and more.

All these will impact small businesses more than larger businesses, 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 predict agency use of IDIQs and GWACs to continue to grow into FY 2019 and beyond. Your access as a prime or partner on these contracts can be critical. Look for significant growth on SEWP ($5,3 billion in FY 2018), 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.

Reserve time on my calendar NOW: 

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, just plain Small 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 influencers;

              - 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 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

Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Government Marketing