Friday, November 27, 2009

Twitter, and Blogging and LinkedIn – Oh My! Why to leverage social networking tools for smarter, faster and cheaper B2G marketing.

The basic goal of marketing is to get attention from a targeted audience, then to influence that audience in some positive (positive for you) way. If your job includes growing your pipeline and growing your business, gaining and retaining customers, growing your overall influence in your niche, and do so in a cost effective way – you need to read on.

If your job is to make sure you keep pace with your competitors or set the pace for your niche, you need to read this.

If you could reach key people in your niche, at least in part, with readily available tools that you can use yourself, would you seriously consider using the tools?

Oh, and did I mention they have a minimal cost?

LinkedIn, blogging and Twitter each represent low-cost and no-cost tools that allow you to reach and interact with targeted audiences.

While there is no doubt that social media has changed the marketing landscape, there are still many doubters and very slow adopters. And even for many of those who have adopted one or more of the social networking tools do not use them to anywhere near the full capacity.

In fact, many sign up and then sit and wait for something to happen.

I still have conversations with people who still maintain that LinkedIn is only for those seeking work, that blogging is for those who have way too much extra time on the hands and that Twitter is for Twits. These people, and their companies, are way too busy for peripheral activities like LinkedIn, blogging and Twitter.

As other media venues stagnate or shrinking, each of us still needs to reach key audiences. The information gathering habits of many in our market have changed and we must change with them.

I am only highlighting 3 tools here but there are many others in use and some just coming along. Webinars, podcasting, web radio and video, FaceBook, GovLoop, TFCN and many others are out there offer good-to-great value for those who leverage them properly.

Being on LinkedIn is no longer simply a ‘nice to have’ activity. If you are not there, you are in a rapidly shrinking minority. LinkedIn is a great venue for identifying key government influencers and those trying to sell to them- resellers, SIs, manufacturers and others. The entire roster of the top 100 contractors (the Washington Technology list) is represented on LinkedIn, as are most of the top GSA Schedule contractors. Overall there are over 50,000,000 professionals on LinkedIn. While not all are overly active, there is enough activity to merit your active participation.

In order to begin to use LinkedIn properly, your profile needs to be filled with enough information to get the attention of those who view it. I will address this at my December 7 B2G Social media event – see the link at the end of this post.

As of today (11/27/09) there are exactly 3,100 groups that have something to do with ‘government’ on LinkedIn. Aside from those, there are niche groups covering all manner of subject matter from various technologies, products and services. When you identify the right groups to join, you can share your thoughts, do research and otherwise participate in the discussions germane to your niche. Participation here raises your overall visibility in your niche and display an area of expertise.

Cost of participating on LinkedIn? $0. While there are paid levels for those wishing to use more tools, basic participation is free.

According to blogging diva Debbie Weil, blogging is different from conventional web sites because blogs are interactive, conversational in nature, created via an instant publishing platform (no IT staff required), offer an involvement factor that web sites lack, and can create a thought leadership position for the blogger. Web 2.0 thought leaders David Meerman Scott and Chris Brogan lead with their blogs. They post regularly (and intelligently) and both have developed massive followings as a result.

Blogs also allow you to truly position yourself as a niche master or thought leader in a specific niche. This occurs not by regurgitating information from other sources but by evolving your own thoughts on the niche and commenting on the positions of others as necessary.

Cost for blogging? There are both free and paid blogging tools, but even the paid ones are not expensive. Select the one that best suits your needs.

The one I personally have the hardest time with – Twitter is becoming clearer to me all the time. Chris Brogan’s blog on Twitter is a great place to start: http://www.chrisbrogan.com/50-ideas-on-using-twitter-for-business/ .

The first issue with Twitter for B2G is ‘are there really enough people in the government market using Twitter to make a difference?’ While open for debate, perhaps the best answer is the number continues to grow. The publications, service providers, many thought leaders and government contractors are officially tweeting on a regular basis, as are many government agencies.

Following some of the publications (WashTech and others) on Twitter allows you to get instant news updates, calendar reminders and more.

Twitter is becoming more and more widespread in B2G marketing and it can no longer be ignored.

Cost for tweeting? Twitter is free.

So why should you bother to engage in using these social networking tools? If your job includes growing your pipeline and growing your business, gaining and retaining customers, growing your overall influence in your niche, and do so in a cost effective way – you need to start using these tools on behalf of your company.

If your job is to make sure you keep pace with your competitors or set the pace for your niche, you need to be here.

If you need to know more, please consider attending our upcoming event on December 7 in Tysons Corner, Virginia:

http://www.governmentmarketmaster.com/events.html

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Small Biz, Web 2.0 & B2G

Citibank commissioned a study, reported by Reuters, that concludes that most small businesses are not yet using social media. "Few U.S. small businesses have adopted social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter for business uses, according to research released Thursday" according to the beginning of the Reuters article.

The article continues: "Three-quarters of small businesses say they have not found sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn helpful for generating business leads or expanding business in the past year, according to a survey conducted for Citibank Small Business of 500 U.S. businesses with fewer than 100 employees....Also, 86 percent said they have not used social networking sites for information or business advice. Ten percent said they have sought business advice and information on expert blogs."

This is not an indictment of social media. This is a lack of understanding of the value of social media for businesses of any size. part of the blame lies with the social media, and a part of the blame lies with the businesses themselves. Education has to be a component, largely self education. Businesses need to try the various social media to see what it can do for them, and the platforms themselves have to create outreach and education programs to attract more businesses.

In order to attract more businesses to each social media platform, the value proposition has to be explained in terms that make sense to the businesses. For a platform like LinkedIn this should be easier than a platform like Facebook or Twitter.

Was I surprised at the findings of the Citibank study? No. Even in the B2G market the vast majority of contractors have a long way to go to maximize the value that social media platforms can bring to the table.

On December 7, there will be a seminar on how both government and the contracting community are using social media. Find out more at
http://www.governmentmarketmaster.com/events.html

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Speaking in Beautiful Virginia Beach

























On October 8, I flew down to Virginia Beach to speak to the Hampton Roads chapter of the American Marketing Association about using LinkedIn. It was a great group of about 75. One very proactive member, Andy Hilton (National Sales Manager - WAVY and WVBT at LIN Television) reached out to connect with me as soon as the topic and speaker were announced. Now if I ever need to know anything about buying TV time, I am connected to an expert.




The luncheon event was held at the new (and green!) Virginia Beach Convention Center. If you are looking for a great mid-Atlantic venue, you gotta check this place out! My contact there, Pamela Lingle (also connected to me on LinkedIn) would be happy to have someone show you around. And the food is great!



My friend, author and photographer Vincent Schilling, shot the event including the pictures here.


If you get the opportunity to speak at HRAMA, or just visit the Convention Center - take it. It is a nice place to visit and a wonderful crowd. And when you go, tell Andy, Pamela and Vincent that Amtower says "Hey!"

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Does your company have a social media strategy? Leveraging LinkedIn

In the Monday, Oct 19 Washington Post (pages C1 and C8), an article entitled "Worldwide ebb" reports on multiple discussions about the pending demise of the mega social networking site Facebook.

The issue is nothing new when it comes to the web: nothing is wrong with Facebook except that it too big and too successful, if not at making money, at least in attracting users. The issue is that it is trying to be all things to all people, and as a business plan that doesn't work.

Facebook was built for college students. Everything after that was kind of a retrofit, especially the ability to be a platform for B2B professionals.

Facebook is not a B2B platform.

Enter LinkedIn. Here is a social network that was designed for business professionals. (Thanks, Reid!)

I remember getting several invitations to join LinkedIn, probably like you. My invitations came in January of 2004 and I joined on February 11, 2004.

Then I did what most people did: waited for something to happen. I should be embarrassed to say I waited 3 years for something to happen. And nothing did. Well, not "nothing" but after three years I only had about 150 connections and was a member of maybe 2 groups.

In early 2007 several things came to my attention and I took a much closer look at LinkedIn and what it could do for me - if I used it. Then I got busy.

Today (as of 6:03 PM EDT 10/19/09) I have
- 1,910 connections (which links me to 12,145,200 professionals)
- belong to 50 groups and 10 sub-groups
- "own" 5 groups and several sub-groups
- manage 3 groups/sub-groups for others
- have over 200 peer and client "recommendations"
- and have 17 "Best Answers" in 11 different categories.

I have some visibility, and the visibility has a focus. And I get lots of comments about "being all over LinkedIn," in fact I get more comments about LinkedIn than I do about my weekly radio show.

Most of my efforts are focused on being highly visible in the government market, where my visibility is already good.

So, what does this have to do with a social media strategy?

This is what it has to do with it: every individual, every small, medium or large business on LinkedIn or using any social networking tool, needs to understand how the network (tool) can be used, how it is currently used, what it can do (good and bad) to your business, and how you can plan and manage a basic approach to using LinkedIn to your advantage.

My first webinar at http://www.governmentmarketmaster.com/ went over this briefly, along with other elements of getting started (building your profile, getting connected, selecting groups, engaging in Q&A and more). our second webinar is coing up on 10/26 (all webinars are archived for replay).

But a detailed, well-thought out strategy for leveraging LinkedIn is not something you can learn through a webinar. You need to match your business goals and needs with the capabilities of the social networking tools, see where that fits and works with your overall marketing and sales plans and make sure each element become mutually supportive.

Here's a short list of things LinkedIn can help you with:

- identifying government buyers and influencers (federal, state and local) - yes, many are on LinkedIn;
- identifying business partners (trying to get the attention of a company that owns a specific contract - see if any are in your network);
- looking for competitor information - look here first;
- looking for a good small business partner?
- looking for a subject matter expert?
- looking for good employees or references on someone who is applying?
- oh, and get clients (make money!)

And the list goes on.

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn was built with one focus - to facilitate business. And it works.

I have seen a number of people offering advice, consulting and seminars on using social networks for business and when I look them up on LinkedIn, only a few look like they actually know what they are doing.

I know what I am doing on LinkedIn - take a look -http://www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower

And if you need some help, give me a call - 301 924 0058, or drop me a line - mark@FederalDirect.net

In the meantime, go to LinkedIn and have some fun learning.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Amtower Off Center - The BOB Show!




This Monday on my radio show (recorded in the atrium of the Tower Club) I interview Bob Laclede (Ingram Micro) and Bob Woods (Topside Consulting) on a wide range of issues facing government from FY 2009 that will carry over to FY 2010 and beyond. Show highlights include computer and network security issues, the evolving cloud computing platform and how it will fit into government needs amid tightening budgets, funding levels for all IT-related programs, healthcare IT issues and stimulus grant funding issues (the flow-down to state and local governments via grants).

The show airs noon Monday (EDT) on Federal News Radio 1500 AM and is simulcast and archived for replay at http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=58&sid=1786531


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WSJ - Why Email No Longer Rules

WSJ reporter Jessica Vascellaro wrote on Oct 12: Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over.In its place, a new generation of services is starting to take hold—services like Twitter and Facebook and countless others vying for a piece of the new world. And just as email did more than a decade ago, this shift promises to profoundly rewrite the way we communicate—in ways we can only begin to imagine.

This is not news to many, but apparently it still is with a variety of companies, even those in the government market. It should not be news here as the way President Obama was elected was heavily influenced by social media, and many new administration policies are designed to increase the use of social media by and for federal agencies.

While the article focuses on the growth of Twitter and the response by traditional email suppliers (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, etc), it does reeference other social media. Many government agencies (NASA and others) use Twitter to keep people abreast of what the agency is doing. While this is not used to transact business, it does illustrate the ability of an agency to create interest and even excitement regarding governmetnal actions - like the NASA satellite that was intentionally crashed into the moon.

There are a myriad of social media platforms attracting niche markets - including government contractors, aka B2G. For example, on LinkedIn when you search "groups" using "government" as the search term, there are 2,856 results as of 12:29 PM today (10/14/09). Now these groups cover all facets of government: federal, state and local, lobbying, compliance issues, grass roots movements as well as contractors. When I ran this same search earlier this year there were just over 2,000 groups.

There is a considerable presence of contractors and government officials (federal, state and local) on LinkedIn. I am directly connected to 1,900 professionals via LinkedIn and I have a 2nd degree network of about 555,000. Within 3 degrees I have over 12,103,600 registered people in my network. LinkedIn has over 45,000,000 business users at this time and it is growing.

I use LinkedIn to build a broader, deeper network, then stay in touch with that network. If you need to learn more about how i use LinkedIn and how it may benefit you, go to
http://www.governmentmarketmaster.com/webinars.html

We also have specialized groups like TFCN and GovLoop. And even on Facebook I am connected to some very senior federal and industry people.

I don't see a significant Federal community (feds or contractors) using Twitter....yet. But it is coming, and we have to be prepared.

The way we communicate is changing rapidly and it is critical to stay current with those changes to maintain ANY competitive advantage.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

END OF FY - Beginning of FY and the Myth of the Level Playing Field

I am not certain I have seen a stranger year ever, across the board.

With the advent of ARRA (TARP, stimulus), there was a media and event rampage on getting into the government market, bringing your wheelbarrow down to the Capitol and going home with a couple million for your pet local project. Ain't gonna happen.

I'd just as soon buy some magic beans and wait for the beanstalk. The odds are better.

But, as usual, the government contracting world marches on in the only (nearly) recession-proof market in the world - Global One - selling to our favorite Uncle.

For the truly initiated, this market is recession-proof. The government needs contractors, it needs the products and services we bring to the table. And I hope you (the truly initiated) had a great FY and are ramping up for another.

But this year, especially because of the economy and the stimulus program, many companies came into the B2G market because of the rumors and out-right lies perpetrated by a few about how "easy" it is going to be to get some of that stimulus money, or to nab a contract. One pitch claimed "You are a phone call away from a $200,000" government contract. One company offering seminars on how to make that call apparently seeded the audience with employees and others who claimed to have done it.

I am not here to rehash that topic or to beat up of the seminar company. I am here to remind the gullible that NO market is easy to break into, especially the government market.

In the government market there are terms and conditions that you would never agree to elsewhere.

In the government market the GSA or DCAA can show up on your doorstep without advance warning and audit your books.

In the government market the contracting agency can terminate your contract "for convenience".

In the government market there are already people and companies doing whatever you do.

In the government market there are companies that do nothing but government, and do it well. While they may not have the best product or service, they have a track record of performance and a bid team with experience.

In the government market - there is no level playing field.

Not that I have an opinion.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Unrealistic Offers from Questionable Sources

When you hear claims like "one phone call to the right office can land you a $200,000 government deal," or that a seminar can provide the "formula" for winning TARP (ARRA) stimulus $ in 60 days, you should be hearing the robot from "Lost in Space" -

"Danger Will Robinson! Danger!"

In my 2nd book, Why Epiphanies Never Occur to Couch Potatoes, I call the sucker pitch the "shiny rock syndrome" and use a quote from the broadway musical, Guys and Dolls:

“On the day I left home to make my way in the world, my daddy took me to one side. ‘Son,’ my daddy says to me, ‘I am sorry I am not able to bankroll you to a large start, but not having the necessary lettuce to get you rolling, instead, I'm going to stake you to some very valuable advice. One of these days, a guy is going to show you a brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken. Then this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of this brand-new deck of cards and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, you do not accept this bet because, as sure as you stand there, you're going to wind up with an ear full of cider.’”

The government market is not now, nor has it ever been "easy" to break into. It requires education from legitimate sources - sources with a strong background in the B2G market (PTACs and SBDCs are always good places to start). It requires dedication and significant resource investments by the company wishing to become a government contactor. It requires a deep understanding of the client agency, the budget process, the contracting process, and more.

There are a variety of good sources for this information and more than a few bad sources. Do your homework before you invest your hard-earned money.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Persistent Government Marketing Myths

My google alerts program brings me news of the good, the bad and the ugly daily. One of my alerts is set for "marketing to the government", and today it took me to a 20 slide presentation by an obvious novice at a site called http://www.docstoc.com.

Now most of us have heard a number of myths about the federal market over the years. I occasionally do a lunch speech call "Ten Myths from the Federal Market" (written a decade ago) which you can listen to here: http://federaldirect.net/speaker.html (scroll to the bottom of the page).

BUT these myths persist, and some of them show up in this presentation, which is supposed to help companies get into the government market.

Here are a few of the more egregious examples:

Slide 3: contact your US Rep, whose staff might be able to help you identify opportunities or agencies. These people will tell you to go the the SBA web site or the agency web sites. That is not help.

Slide 3: develop relationships with people at big contractors and the agencies. This is good advice, but it is immediately followed by "your contacts will point you to new opportunities, put you on the short list for RFPs. While the referral part might happen, there is no short list for RFPs, and making "friends" with major contractors is not easy.

Slide 4: check out new listings on GSA Schedule. While this might be good advice, it is not a simple matter of going to www.GSA.gov . Finding new listings is a rather esoteric skill, and one that will not necessarily lead to useful market information.

Slide 5: "Tip – end of FY is a great time to get contracts" because of use it or lose it! NO NO NO - unless you have laid the groundwork carefully over the course of the year 9or longer), you cannot show up and find unused federal funds on the floor waiting for you to pick them up.

Further along the presentation says to send snail mail post cards and email postcards to procurement offices to inform the buyers, oblivious to the spam filters set tight at federal agencies and the mail threshold issues in most mailrooms.

The presentation also uses sample ads that have absolutely no relevance to the government market - an ad for martial arts uniforms and an ad for shoes (with Santa Claus and a child).

And my favorite - right out of "Ten Myths" - send press releases to print and broadcast "for inclusion in their pages or broadcasts at no charge." This is so naive that I will let it speak for itself.

There was some fair information, especially about the importance of relationships in the government market. But overall this is a bad presentation with many misleading tidbits.

I bring this to light not to make fun of the author but to remind people that there are legitimate sources of B2G information and not-so legitimate information sources.

The B2G Institute was declared a fraudulent operation by the Texas Attorney General as reported in Courthouse News ( www.courthouse news.com ) on Sept 22. I have written about them before and have heard from multiple sources that this organization.

From Courthouse News:
The company gives the false impression that winning government contracts is easy: "Just a phone call could win you a contract for up to $200,000," one ad claims. The company uses the workshop as a forum to sell its $4,995 program, using "employees" to represent themselves as students, and give testimonials about how easily they made money, Abbott says. During its workshops B2G also use the tactic of "taking a few attendees aside to convince others," Abbott says. "This is accomplished by an 'employee' of the defendants asking for volunteers, taking those few volunteers out into the hallway, and showing them the process in a simplified manner on the computer. The consumers then return to the group relating to others that the process is fast and easy."

The B2G Institute is not alone in providing questionable or outright bad information. Do your homework - check the credentials of the information provider. If you can't find anything on your first couple of Google inquiries, you should suspect all is not quite right.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Government Market Master

The government market is changing – again!

To stay valuable to your company you need to know more, be able to do more, and stay at or near the edge.

How are you staying current?

Government Market Master is designed to contribute to the ongoing education of all professionals in the government market, experienced and novices alike, line managers and CEOs. In a market as vast and complicated as doing business with the government, the ability to stay ahead of the curve is predicated on accessing the best and the brightest which is what we have done in the selection of the experts who share their knowledge at Government Market Master.

By providing cost-effective online, on-demand education, with new material every month, Government Market Master is the premier site for your B2G continuing education. It is designed to deliver useful information from professionals who are from the front lines (like you) of the government market in multiple disciplines – sales, marketing, bid & proposal, business development, management, operations, and more.

It is also designed to deliver information when you want it and in ways that make it easy and inexpensive for you to invest in yourself and in your company.

Regardless of the size of your enterprise – small, medium or large business – Government Market Master will provide information to help you and your staff get to the next level.

If you want to migrate from the second or third tier to the top tier in the government contracting community, then Government Market Masters is for you.

If you are new to the market and your company is interested in selling to the federal government, landing more government contracts and GSA schedules, developing critical procurement contacts, connecting with decision makers within the government and the contracting community, and learning the essential government best practices that can make you a viable player — even against much larger, more experienced companies, then Government Market Masters is for you.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Me On (and in) LinkedIn - Why I Love LinkedIn

Like almost everyone else who has joined LinkedIn, I sat there for over a year and did not do much.

I would look at the screen and nothing would happen. I would lean my head against the screen and whisper "connect with me" and nothing would happen. Short of lighting incense and chanting, I was at a loss as to how to proceed.

Then a couple things happened. I read Jason Alba's book, I'm on LinkedIn, Now What? Then I read David Meerman Scott's The New Rules of Marketing and PR. I added the lessons from each and went (in April, 2007) from 150 contacts then to over 1,700 today, from 1 group to 50 (yes, 50) groups, from no Q&A to "Best Answers" in 10 categories and being a regular Q&A user, from 5 recommendations to over 200, from a flat, short profile to one that, when printed, runs over 40 pages!

In short, from not having a clue to starting to maximize the value of this really incredible tool.

In my August 2008 seminar (Government Marketing Best Practices, version 7.0) I stated that any business magazine or association that does not have a social media back end is doomed, because they are natural online and offline communities.

Today, hundreds of of business publications and associations have groups on LinkedIn.

Why LinkedIn?

It is the ONLY major social media platform designed for business professionals. It is a natural home for business groups and publications.

It is also a grossly under-utilized tool for many of those registered, but like me 2 years ago, these are people waiting for something to occur. Don't wait - act!

I share my lessons learned in a 3 Cd set. It says it is for "B2G" (business-to-government), my market. But the lessons apply to anyone.

Plug the CDs into your computer, get on to your LinkedIn account, and listen to the CDs while you navigate LinkedIn. Start maximizing the value of this totally cool tool for you and your business.

Good luck!

http://federaldirect.net/order2008gmbp.html

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MeritDirect Coop - July 9, 2009




For the 4th time I was fortunate to get the lunch speech for the Merit Direct B2B Coop. Merit is a direct mailing list management and brokerage firm in Westchester NY. I have been a friend and client since they started ten years ago, and I have several excellent friends who work there and more friends who are clients.

The conference is like a reunion. While there are always new people there, many of us go to see friends we may not otherwise see very often and to renew acquaintances. There is nothing like networking with friends.
My speech was a brief history of direct marketing since the 1980s and it was very well received.
However, regardless of the quality and impact of any speech, the limelight from it fades ever so rapidly.



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

GSA Schedule 70 Sales - 2008

My friend Richard Mackey (www.CapitalReps.com) negotiates and manages GSA Schedules for a variety of companies. Several years ago he ran a report on Schedule 70 that had some remarkable statistics (I used this data in my first book Government Marketing Best Practices), so I asked him to run the numbers for me for 2008 (Schedule 70) to see if anything had changed. Things have not changed.

The results:

Total FY 08 Schedule 70 Sales were $15,901,412,897 (down from past years)

Total # of comapnies on Schedule 70 in FY 2008: 5,615

Dell's market share has dropped to 6.43% - years ago, they had almost 10%. 6.43 isn't bad though!

Top 50 Market Share 53.63% - about the same as the past

# of Firms Selling less than required $25k 45.97% - up a lot

# of Firms Selling less zero 38.62% about the same as the past


We have run these stats for several Schedules over several years and the general results are:

-the top 2% of the companies on any Schedule take over 60% of the $

- the middle group takes about 35%

- the bottom third usually take little or nothing.

Now keep in mind that the GSA Schedules only account for about 15% of the toal federal spending.

But what does this tell us?

1) Most companies in the government market are in a passive mode, sitting by the phone waiting for it to ring because they have a contract.
2) Most companoes with GSA Schedules do not know how to leverage these into sales.
3) That the very proactive companoes out there understand how it is done.

If your company is not in that top tier, y0u need to start your education process NOW!

Take a look at www.GovernmentMarketMaster.com to start that education process.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Blog Name Change

Amtower Off Center is my radio show, and it has a brand of its own. You can listen to my shows in the archive at www.FederalNewsRadio.com and you can listen live in DC on 1500 AM or on the web at the web site at noon every Monday.

The blog is still me, attitude intact, but it is different from the radio show. Amtower on B2G is what I do - business to government marketing, business to government sales, business to government BUSINESS.

My first book, Government Marketing Best Practices, was about selling to the government. My seminars are about selling to the government, my web sites, www.GovernmentMarketMaster.com
www.GovernmentExpress.com
www.FederalDirect.com
are about selling to the government.

And now, a little more clearly, Amtower on B2G is about selling to the government.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

GovTips

GovTip of the week:
There are thousands of government contractors on LinkedIn. Many of these are open to connecting with other contractors directly and through the groups on LinkedIn. Listen to the free audio on using LinkedIn for B2G at http://www.governmentmarketmaster.com/sampleaudio.html


There are a ton of events, emails, blogs, podcasts and other "information" sources that only seem to regurgitate readily available info. Many of these venues still get it wrong, mangling the facts, adding opinion as fact, or worse, perpetuating market myths.

Since 1991, I have produced over 120 events (seminars, conferences, summits, in-house sessions and more) to provide real, actionable information on doing business with the government. When I don't know something, I find those who do, experts like Steve Charles (a sales and contracting expert and EVP at ImmixGroup), Courtney Fairchild (GSA expert and president of Global Services, Inc), Max Peterson (Federal sales expert and VP, Civilian, Dell), Bob Davis (business development expert formerly of CACI and Accenture), and many others.

Many of these people have presented at Amtower & Company events, some have been featured on my radio show (noon Monday, Amtower Off Center, 1500 AM in DC, archived and simulcast at http://www.federalnewsradio.com/ ).

And now we are accumulating the vast majority of this information at http://www.governmentmarketmaster.com/ . This is a paid member site, but the cost is low and there is new information every month - podcasts and webinars.

Take a look.

Monday, June 29, 2009

While You Were Out.....

As some of you know, I was with my family in London from June 19th until the 27th. It was a blast.

Checking my email upon our return, imagine my surprise to find out I had won no fewer than 4 lotteries: Netherlands, UK (of course - I just got back), Swiss and Lottomatica (who comes up with these names)! Zounds - I must be rich!

Not only am I now rich, but famous, too, as I have been nominated for the Who's Who in the Heritage Who's Who, the Presidential Who's Who, and the Starthnmore Who's Who.

Wow, if I wasn't impressed with me before.....I am tingly all over.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

NextGov Aggragates Gov Twitterers

Will Colston from GovExec sent me an interesting email.

http://www.nextgov.com/ , part of the Government Executive Media Group (which is part of Atlantic Media Co.), has put together an aggregated feed government agencies Tweets, so you can see dozens of agencies tweets at the same time on one page. I already follow a couple of these agencies separately, so the "feed" is a great way to catch a quick glimpse of many agencies with one click. The link is

www.nextgov.com/thefeed

take a look.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

DoD Buyers Guide Blues

My commentary is in italics - what I received is not:

So I get an email today from
Federal Buyers Guide
To:
Subject: Amtower and Co. listing update - DoD Buyers Guide

offering me
SUPPLIERS LISTING APPLICATION Complete & Return By Wednesday, June 17, 2009 Fields in red are required.

for the appently low price of
The cost of a listing is $595 for 6 months and $995 for one year.

Then there is a long form to fill out, giving them more information about you than you give to your spouse. The information they have on me (name, address, email etc is largely WRONG).

Alright. It's an offer. But it does NOT tell me who the directory is going to, how many will go out, when it will go out, or how it is to be delivered.

Hmmm.

They also offer a GSA Buyers Guide, Federal Government, Homeland Security, State & County and more.

This is not the first time I have seen this and I am sure it will not be the last. I have not and would not recommend this as a method of advertising to the government - Federal, state of local.

According to web survey tool http://www.alexa.com/, the web site associated with this directory - http://www.dodworld.com/, is ranked 2,837,858 in web traffic.

Hmmm.

My advice is save your money.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ken Blanchard in DC




Ken and several of the Ken Blanchard Companies staff were in DC today doing a seminar for Feds on "Staying Focused and Productive During Uncertain Times." It was a great event and well attended.


After having spent a couple hours of the phone with Ken over the past 18 months (including an interview on my show), it was great to finally meet him, and his lovely wife Margie.


Apart from being a prolific writer (over 55 books and counting) and the co-author of one of the best selling business book of all times (The One Minute Manager, which is still in print almost 27 years) Ken is truly a nice man and a class act. He is everything you'd hope he would be, and more.



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Beware of B2G Institute, part 2

The Huffington Popst weighs on the alleged mis-deeds of the B2G Institute:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/03/scheming-businessman-hold_n_210851.html

and this major warning from The Center for Public Integrity:

http://www.publicintegrity.org/blog/entry/1404/

A few tips for selecting venues requiring your time and your money:

1) pedigree - has the event producer "been there, done that." Many have beendoing this a long time (Federal Business Council,, Digital Government Institute, 1105 Government Media, government Exec, AFCEA, etc) - and some have not. See my posts from Feb 2009 on Why People Are Leery of Events.

2) how many times has this particular event occurred (annual sinc 1990?, 2001? annual since last week?)

3) will the event producer list the sponsors and exhibitors from previous years?

I have seen events where the event producer will list key government people as speakers, yet when I call the govies, they have no idea who the producer or event is.

Hmmm????

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Government Market Master on LinkedIn

I am very active on LinkedIn and much less so at Twitter, Plaxo, GovLoop, FederalContractor, Facebook, etc.

I have 1,503 connections and belong to fifty (5-zero) groups on LinkedIn. I was not satisfied with a few of the B2G groups I was in, so yesterday I started my own - Government Market Master, with the idea that I would make this one more active than those I was not satisfied with.

The group will provide information for all the "skill" areas of doing business with the government: BD, marketing, sales, program management, C-level, operations, GSA and more.

I have three discussion posts (with 10 comments) and 3 news posts in the first 24 hours - and 177 members in the first 24 hours. Tomorrow I will announce the first free teleseminar for the group, which will be held next week.

Come check out the group when you have a few minutes - Government Market Master -
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1979445

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Content Guy as Keynoter - part 2

Yesterday I delivered the keynote at the 10th annual SEWP conference in Austin, Texas. For those of you who do not know the government market, SEWP is a government-wide contract (GWAC in our parlance) for high-end information technology products.

First - I had a great time. I learned that SEWP is not simply a contract and that the conference is not simply an event, but that SEWP is a community comprised of the SEWP staff, agencies buyers, and the contractors. These people know one and respect one another and truly enjoy themselves when they get together.

Second- We have all been to events where have either been or seen the "fringe" people - those who are too new to an event to feel a part of it and who will go to their rooms for meals. This event did everything possible to be inclusive, with the SEWP staff acting as ambassadors, seeking out all the attendees.

Third, looking at the agenda and talking to the attendees, I know that Joanne Woytek, Marcus Fedeli and the rest of the SEWP staff put together a great program, chock full of stuff people could use as soon as they got to the office.

Finally - the content guy as keynoter. As soon as I hit the stage I felt at home. I knew some of the attendees from before, met several others at dinner the night I arrived, and I just felt good. It is not for me to say how I did, so I will ask some of the folks who attended to comment - but I had about 20 people come up to me after the speech to say how much they enjoyed it. As I was only there for about 20 minutes after I was done spoeaking, I think that I must have been OK.

All things considered, I am honored to have been a small part of the event.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Beware of the B2G Institute

I have had several calls lately asking me if I knew of the B2G Institute.

I do not.

Then I got this google alert aiming me at an article highlighting the same B2G Institute as a company to avoid.

http://www.sandiego6.com/mostpopular/story/B2G-Get-Rich-Scheme-Targets-San-Diego-Business/naLrwamJG0yVGJpNkBaAfg.cspx

Make your own decision - but read the article!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Content guy as a keynoter

I am a good speaker, but not a great speaker. I am known for content - stuff you can use, either right then and there, or whenever (if ever) you get to it.

But I am a content guy, not a polished platform guy.

Overall, I think it's fair to say that I am not your usual conference speaker. I dress in all black, wear cowboy boots (or black sneakers), and don't wear ties. I am easy to find as I am not small and dress this way all the time.

Yet I am the keynote at the SEWP conference next week. For those of you who don't know what SEWP is, the NASA SEWP (Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement) GWAC (Government-Wide Acquisition Contract) provides the latest in Information Technology (IT) products for all Federal Agencies. It is a truly great government contract and it hosts it's own event every year, and they asked me to keynote.

Who was I to say "no"?

So when I speak in Austin on Tuesday to kick off this event, I will tell them up front that this is not your typical keynote and that note taking is encouraged. I will give them some info they can use, if they so choose, or ignore. You can lead a horse to water....

And I will report back here next week to let you know how I did and what I told 'em.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Some Tech Blogs to watch, and one to ignore

Patting oneself on the back isn't a bad thing. I have been known to do it myself. But starting a separate "independent" company whose main job seems to be patting you on the back is something else, especially when you make the assumption that people will either not find out or will not care.

The creation of an artificially inflated food chain in an environment like the web is begging for public humiliation. The transparency of the web is real, and the Lincoln adage that "you can fool some of the people all of the time..." may well be passe in an environment where, when they have not heard of you, they can google you in a heartbeat...

TechCrunch references a survey from PR Sourcecode that ranks the tech blogs allegedly used and preferred by PR agencies. The only problem is the #7 ranking...Meritalk, which is owned by the same company that owns PRSourcecode.

Follow the interesting discussion here:

http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/05/04/survey-says-pr-people-love-our-no-embargo-policy/

Draw your own conclusions.

Not hat I have an opinion.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Some current and upcoming B2G Stuff

A couple items of interest to the B2G community.

My friends at World Wide Technology are hosting a webinar on Putting Stimulus Doallrs to Work:
http://www.wwt.com/external_content/stimulus_registration.html
WWT is a major provider of Cisco, Sun and other high-end IT products to the government.

The Montgomery County (Maryland) Chamber and its GovConNet program is hosting a Procurement Conference and Expo Wed May 13 - here is the link:
http://www.montgomerycountychamber.com/pubs/main/Procurement_Confer_1.cfm
The lineup is very impressive.

My friends at Onvia are hosting a webinar on May 20, 2009
https://onviaevents.ilinc.com/perl/ilinc/lms/register.pl?activity_id=pwmyvmp&user_id=
This is regarding the economic recovery initiatives that are under way. Onvia is always a good source for this information. Onvia Webcast: Recovery Projects are Underway – How to Secure your Success.

I am back on StartUpNation
http://www.startupnation.com/articles/9439/1/government-contracting-gsa-schedules.htm

For those of you not familiar with http://www.startupnation.com/, is is an information portal for new and small businesses, filled with articles, podcasts, etc, from a variety of niche experts. Take a little time to browse the site.

I am also in the current Maryland Daily Record in an article regarding private business clubs - see
http://www.mddailyrecord.com/article.cfm?id=11411&type=UTTM

Thursday, April 30, 2009

NC Contractor Uses Social Media to grow Gov Biz

Gal Borenstein forwarded me this link from one of my favorites biz magazines, BtoB. I quote:

Marketing to government agencies traditionally has not been an activity for companies seeking quick returns—something that Jennifer Filipowski, exec VP-marketing at InterAct Public Safety Systems, is quick to point out.

“There is a hurry-up-and-wait scenario,” she said. “You get a bunch of leads in and, once you're working that relationship or opportunity, you are waiting for the next budget cycle or chasing down a grant.”

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company markets mobile data systems and computer-aided dispatch, emergency call-taking and mapping solutions to law enforcement agencies, fire departments and medical response teams.

read the entire story here

http://www.btobonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009304249997#seenit

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The 100 Day Test

Well, it's here. Not exactly sure what "it" means, but it's here.

100 days have passed since Senator Obama became President Obama, and the big media want to know - Time magazine wants to know....what's different? Did President Obama pass the test?

What test, you ask? The 100 day test, of course!

My answer?

There is no test. Nothing is different, yet. It's the government. I don't want it to change fast, it's too big for that. It is not designed for quick change. 100 days my Aunt Ruth's....

Further, when the Senator became the President, he inherited an economy that was rapidly going down the drain. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do in 100 days to turn around that mess. And unlike some other radio hosts, I am neither predicting nor hoping that his stimulus plan fails. I pray that it works for the sake of all those who are out of work, and those who fear they may be out of work soon, those who probably listen to a radio host besides yours truly....

But I digress.

100 days. Who cares! This is yet another media measurement that means nothing. No wonder traditional media is tanking - it has so little to offer that it invents stuff.

In two years will it be 100 hours? And when Twitter really takes over, it'll be what, 100 seconds? 100 characters?

Get a grip, media folks. Analyze the news, tell us what is happening. Stop creating false measurements.

Not that I have an opinion.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Post from OhMyGov.com and interview w/ Dr Dray

Ten ways to improve government web sites - tidbit I picked up from @tjohns06 on Twitter -
but advice that is applicable to feds and contractors.

http://ohmygov.com/blogs/general_news/archive/2009/04/23/10-ways-to-improve-government-websites.aspx

excellent stuff!

Also I interviewed Dr Mark Drapeau today for my show Monday at noon - Amtower Off Center on WFED 1500 AM in DC, archived and webcaast on http://www.federalnewsradio.com/ (the show will be up and downloadable AFTER it airs, Monday). Dr Dray is @cheeky_geeky on Twitter.

Dr Dray (http://www.markdrapeau.com/) is one of the 4 who put together the Government 2.0 Camp last month (follow them now at http://www.government20club.org/) Also on the first half of the show was Maxine Teller (http://www.mixtmediastrategy.com/). The 2 who were not on the show (yet) who organized the show were Jeffrey Levy (EPA) and Peter Corbett (http://www.istrategylab.com/) .

Dr Dray, Maxine & I discussed how the "camp" evolved and where it might go from here, and other web 2.0 stuff. Tremendously fun and informative interview.

Not that I have an opinion.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Oracle buys Sun

The NY Times reports Sun has been purchased by Oracle.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/technology/companies/21sun.html?_r=1&ref=technology&pagewanted=print

What does this mean for the government market? Until 9/30/09 (end of FY) - nothing. The deal won't close until summer anyway, and no one wants to disrupt ANY end-of-FY deals. But they will be disrupted to some degree.

Any pending deals for Sun's competitors are now in some jeopardy, as Sun now has the financial solvency of Oracle behind it. With a compelling product and solvency, Sun is now poised to regain marketshare.

And Oracle's recent deals with Dell and HP? One can assume that these will not be vigorously pursued, but stranger things have happened.

And what does this mean for the various channel partners (VARs, SIs, etc) of Oracle and Sun, who are not always the same players?

This deal will be very interesting to watch as it unfolds.

Not that I have an opinion.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

FOSE, Government 2.0 Camp and more

Government 2.0 Camp:

Although I was not there, this event created a ton of buzz which continues. Steve Radick has a great post on the event here
http://steveradick.com/2009/04/07/a-challenge-to-government-20-camp-attendees/
Give it a look, take some of the challenges to heart. I will be at the next Camp.


FOSE:

I posted a question on about 20 of my government-facing groups at LinkedIn on FOSE: I simply asked what people thought of it. I did not attend FOSE this year as I was heading over to the UK that week and had some prep to do for my trip.

The consensus is....that there is no consensus. This has been the same for several years now. Here are a few of the unedited responses (without names):

- Mark, I did not go and haven't for a few years now. FOSE has lost interest for me because it became so hardware and even software vendor based. I'd much rather go to a homeland defense/homeland security conference and see the specific items designed for the fields of work rather than a generic IT conference.

- I attended. Thought it was a good conference - presentations, keynotes, exhibit floor. Of course, I might be a bit biased as one of the presentations was mine. :-) The 1105 folks know how to put on a conference.

- FOSE was a solid event this year. Industry particpation was down - but government attendance was strong - and the decision makers were throughout. Its been the best conference of 2009 so far.

- I did go for two days and was disappointed with the turnout at the Gov. 2.0 presentation especially.

- I thought that the show itself was pretty good. I didn't attend last year; however, most I have spoken with who attended last year and this year seem to think that this years show was a lot better than last years. I was only down there one day, but the foot traffic was pretty steady all day, and I really enjoyed some of the topics covered during the breakout sessions... by far, imho, the Web 2.0 panel discussion was great.

-We were actually "exhibitors" at GovSec in the adjoining room at the Center and we were (literally) fifty feet from the connecting door... We received a ton of walk through our booth from folks headed to FOSE. They claimed that they had no idea of the co-joining and if the did they would have brought additional folks from their departments. Personally, I think there was a wonderful opportunity for synergy between the IT folks and Physical Security folks since those worlds are coming so much closer together... If they continue to co-join the events then they should sponsor some "joint presentations" showing the inter-operability of the two sectors... It just makes sense to me!

- FOSE is not worth attending unless you are a big box provider. The big box companies: IBM, CISCO, HP, etc. dwarf any independents from gaining attention. Also, typical attendee is lower level government managers without control over funds who are there to get the swag handed out at the booths.

As you can see, some liked the show and benefitted from it, others did not like the show. Part of this is the expectation and plan you have before attending. Part is the show itself.

Events need to be a part of the government market landscape - no doubt about it. I prefer more focused events as a rule.

If FOSE, along with GovSec, is to remain part of the B2G ecosystem, I think it needs a strong focus and a broader networking appeal - networking in both the web 2.0 sense and the traditional face-to-face sense.

A couple thoughts on what needs to happen is FOSE is to gain broader community support;

1) year-round conversations (via web 2.0 platforms) on what FOSE needs. This will get grassroots feedback that should help planning.

2) continued emphasis on the educational/certification side. I was happy to see this get some emphasis this year.

3) a FOSE groups on various social networks, including FederalContractor.us, GovLoop.com and LinkedIn.

4) semi-related, but in the category of nothing to be done about it....I do not like the DC Convention Center and I am far from alone in that assessment. Parking is minimal and the layout is poor. Again - nothing to be done about this because there is no fall-back venue.

Suufice it to say I heard nothing about big bags - http://www.federaldirect.net/offwhite21.html

Enough said for now.

Friday, April 3, 2009

To (Social) Network, or Not to Network

This morning I attended a great event put on by Market Connections on winning government business. The panel was comprised of 4 market professionals and the Editor of Washington Technology (this is not to imply the editor is not a market pro, but he is a journalist, the others are front line folks). Lisa Dezzutti presented findings of the recent Market Connection studies on how contractors are marketing - great stuff and now my weekend reading! It was a great event for networking and the info was top notch.

I got to ask a couple questions near the end - so I asked how many people in the room were on LinkedIn. Of the 75 or so B2G market pros, and nearly all raised their hands. Then I asked how many heard about the event on LinkedIn. About half had their hands up.

Several times over the past month or so I have run across those who think LinkedIn is

- a joke
- a job site
- a time waster
- full of people living in the parental basement

And if they think this way about LinkedIn, what do they think of Facebook and Twitter?

And yes, despite my rant last month, I am still on Facebook, and using it a little. I am also now on Twitter and have about 260 followers. I also use www.FederalContractor.us, www.GovLoop.com, www.BeltwayNetworker.com and a few others.

But LinkedIn remains my social networking focus.

I am not here to convert those who remain convinced of the above myths about whether or no social networks are useful ("Maybe they are for some, Mark, but not in my area...." is the typical whiny remark.)

I do not care if you do not wish to migrate where the world is moving.

I do not care if you want your business to operate under marketing rules that were dying in the 1990s.

I do not care if you are brainstorming in a closet with a like-minded sycophant.

The market, and marketing, moves with or without us.

I prefer being on the bus before it leaves the station.

If you prefer otherwise, do not whine to me about it.

And if you are not on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twiter, GovLoop, FederalContracting or BeltwayNetworking, you may not be hearing about to many events in the future.

Not that I have an opinion.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Buzz Marketing Daily: Top 5 Things We Learned @ South By Southwest Interactive (plus 5 BONUS takeaways!)

http://www.buzzmarketingdaily.com/2009/03/top-5-things-we-learned-south-by.html

This is not my post, but notes from BuzzMarketingDaily about the conference last week in Austin - SouthBySouthwest, This was a major web 2.0 event attended by several of my totally web savvy friend - David Meerman Scott (http://www.webinknow.com/) , Alice Marshall ( http://technoflak.blogspot.com/ ), Debbie Weil ( http://www.debbieweil.com/blog), Geoff Livingston (www.livingstonbuzz.com/blog/ and others.

As Web 2.0 tools gather steam in the B2G arena, I will be tapping into these folks and others (http://www.federalcontractor.us/, http://www.beltwaynetworker.com/ and http://www.govloop.com/ among them) on a regular basis.

This is a very hot, emerging area and one we need to be on top of as marketers to the government.

Not that I have an opinion.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Why People are leery of events, part 4, and FaceBook

Back in Feb I wrote about the Economic Recovery event being offered in DC. I wrote about this 3 times, as it appeared to be a non-event, with no speakers and no real information. When you went to the web site, there was vistually nothing there; no real agenda, no speakers, etc. And then the venue kept changing and getting (seemingly) smaller.

Well, they are back, and the subject line in the email was "Register Now - Billions in New Spending!" and the email was from "Recovery Summit ". This is now a 2 day event which desribes itself this way: "The American Economic Recovery Summit is designed to introduce the specifics of the federal government’s massive economic recovery programs to American business and to the American people. "

I have yet to find someone's name associated with ANY of the emails that have gone out on this. Nor have any speakers been identified.

Draw your own conclusion. I have drawn mine.

***

re: My Facebook rants, also from February., in regard to facebook's privacy snafu. Well, I did not pull out of Facebook. A number of rasons, not the leats of which is there are many people there, who, for some reason, are not on LinkedIn. So, I am still there (sort of under protest), but I still concentrate the bulk of my social networking efforts at LinkedIn. Ahead of Facebook, the Federal Contracting Network (http://www.federalcontractor.us/) is now my #2 network.

Not that I have an opinion.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Congress pushes $750 million+ in Earmarks - Amtower's raection


Don't you love it when all of the self-serving people in D.C. do their little rat dance? While not all are involved, many members of Congress & the lobbyists who push earmarks are little more than slimy things that crawl out from under rocks several times a year.
Not that I have an opinion.

Book World & Washington Post Revisited

In the Washington Post (Sunday, March 8) in both the Business and Outlook sections, there are book reviews. Outlook has eight (one starting on the front page, with pages 6 and 7 devoted to books - history, a memoir. science and more The Business section has one in Michelle Singletary's column.

Keep it up, folks! It isn't book world, but they are trying. I've got to give credit to them and would love to see still more.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Is Space Advertising Dead?

I just received a question from a government marketing pro I have known for a long time, one I respect tremendously. Here is the question:

"Mark, Is print advertising going to be dead in federal IT over the next 12 to 18 months? I still see print as a big brand building tool for folks like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, etc.yes it needs to be integrated with online and new media but it will never be replaced. Am I way off base?"

Here is my response:

"Your instincts tell you the same thing mine tell me. Space ads are already on life support and anyone telling a different story is living in a fantasy world. Possible space will die, but hopefully not. Can the big companies afford to the let print venues die? I don't think so, as none seem to have a strategy to live without them and their (the pubs) ability to reach a very broad audience. Last August (in my Government Marketing Best Practices seminar- http://www.federaldirect.net/order2008gmbp.html) I said that trade (niche) publications that did not adopts social networking strategy would die. There is still time - but they have to move FAST!!!"

In the GMBP seminar last summer, I pointed out that trade publications (and trade associations) serve a niche, a community of people who share a market. These commonalities are perfect for creating a social network so the proactive professionals in that community could better interact. Further, I said that these communities were going to occur with or without the publications. I said straight out that trade publications and associations that do not adopt a social network on the back end of their publication or group would cease to exist. Information dissemination and digestion is changing, and it is changing fast.

Since that time we have seen the birth of two social networks in our market: www.FederalContractor.us (aka TFCN, The Federal Contractor Network, which serves the contractor community) and www.GovLoop.com (which serves primarily a Federal employee audience, with some contractors). These are robust forums and each is growing.

I don't think we can afford to see the demise of trade publications, as the quality of the information they provide is critical to the decision making process in the government and contracting communities - in our shared community. Each of the publications that serve this market provides the vital intellectual nourishment required for us to collectively grow.

I am not referring to unfettered, unregulated growth of government spending. I am referring to the growth of a joint community that better serves the needs of the government and us as citizens.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

FOSE reversal - expo is free to all

If somehow you have missed it, FOSE occurs next week at the DC Convention Center.

Over the last several weeks radio spots for FOSE were saying the expo was "free for DOD and Federal employees". The FOSE web site now says the expo portion is free for DOD, Federal employees and government contractors.

This is not the first time this reversal has occured. A few years back, under the previous owner (Post Newsweek Tech), FOSE did this when the contractor community balked at paying $50 to see exhibits. It seems overall attendance may be down again, and the last minute jolt might help. I understand the need to monetize the event in as many ways as possible, but charging contractors for the exhibits does not work and with fewer people in the exhibit halls, the show floor looks like a ghost town.

If you'd like to register, go to
www.FOSE.com

I will not be attending for the 2nd time in 25 years. I will be leaving the country on the 11th and will have several things to do prior to that. Even if I were in town, there are fewer reasons for me to attend. High among my reasons for not attending is the lack of parking in the vicinity of the DC Convention Center. I hate going there. Whoever designed this place had an obvious Metro bias which does not servve the best interests of the event producers.

Last year I was at FOSE to do a live radio broadcast from the show floor, and it was fun having several of my friends who were exhibiting as guests on the show. This year my radio station - WFED, www.FederalNewsRadio.com - opted not to go, as did some of the exhibitors who were on my show.

I would like FOSE to succeed, but the age for the mega-tech show may be passing. MacWorld and others are going away. Some tech trade pubs are folding. VAR Business just put out its last issue and will now be part of CRN.

If companies have marketing dollars, apparently they are looking for other places to spend them.

FOSE must reinvent itself if it is to survive. It would be great to have one big event that attracted the IT community (other than the Input holiday party), but it is going to take some radically new thinking.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ted Stevens and the ANC Legacy

Robert Brodsky at Government Executive has a good story out on the probable future of ANCs. Go here
http://www.govexec.com/features/0309-01/0309-01s3.htm
The ANC issue has to be dealt with and the SBA best get on its monitoring hat with similar programs.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

And there it wasn't

I opened my Sunday paper this morning and started arranging, by section, the paper for my breakfast. I knew this was coming but did not know when.

Today was the day.

I usually get up before everyone else so I can have some quiet time with the paper. For the last three decades I began my Sunday reading with Book World. And today it was not there. It has been the only section of the Washington Post that I would thumb through page by page every time I saw it. It was always filled with great reviews and it was a great way to start Sunday.

If Mrs Graham was correct, that the mark of a great paper was the book section, the Post has migrated down the food chain.

Friday, February 20, 2009

End of Week Notes

The Government Media and Marketing Networking Reception is Tuesday, Feb 24 at 7:30 AM at the Tower Club is Vienna, VA. To register, go here - http://www.eventbrite.com/event/263857204. I would suggest registering now as this may sell out. This is a reception - not a lecture. You can meet and talk to editors, reporters, radio hosts and a few PR folks. Tony Welz & Evan Weisel put on great events. If you attend, look for me.

My radio show Monday (noon, 1500 AM, simulcast at www.FederalNewsRadio.com ) features Louis Numkin and Gretchen Morris of FISSEA, the Federal Information Systems Security Educators Association. The 22nd annual FISSEA conference will be held at the Gaithersburg, MD Capus of NIST March 24-26. These are great people who work tirelessly to get the word out on computer security in federal agencies. They also provide in-agency education on all things related to computer security and are big advocates of the various security certifications available. I have been watching them for almost 20 years, ever since Lynn McNulty (who then worked in Dr Jim Burrows Computer Security Lab at NIST) told me about them around 1991. Time flies when you're having fun!

The ASBC held two Business Over Breakfast events this week: the usual one at the Tower Club on Wednesday (with over 40 people), and then one this morning at La Madeline in Columbia, MD (with about 12 people). I was lucky enough to atend both. If you haven't attended one, come next Wed to the Tower Club, but pre-register at www.TheASBC.org .

I also was at the Tower Club Thursday meeting with Bob Gosselin of EMC. While we were in the dining room, at the same time The Washington Breakfast Club (part of the ASBC) was hosting an SRO crowd across the lobby in the Fairfax Room...

This past Monday I had a one-on-one meeting with the Howard County (MD) BRAC Director, Kent Mesner. BRAC plans are proceeding and will certainly impact the national capitol area on both sides of the river. If Mr Mesner's name sound familiar, he went under the title Colonel Mesner when he was commander of Fort George G Meade.....

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Facebook: Media footnote and Mark's Random Connections

I know I was late getting the news about Facebook and the privacy issue. I also know I have made a few very minor waves about my pending FB departure. I was thinking about reducing the number of social networks I was in anyway, and this event expedite the decision process and highlighted which one I would vacate. I don't see FB making the B2B cut in the long run. I really don't want people "writing on my wall," or getting "poked." The site was built for the college crowd, not professionals, and the retrofit doesn't make the cut - at least for me.

That being said, earlier today I got my March Fortune magazine in the mail, and lo and behold, who is on the cover but FaceBookBoy - with nary a mention on the privacy snafu. The publication was probably at the printer when the privacy stuff hit the fan, so I certainly understand. And I assume when I go to the Fortune web site they will be all over this.

But I mention that because Sean Callahan of BtoB magazine (a great magazine with solid enewsletters), in today's BtoB Media enewsletter, wrote about BPA (Bureau of Publication Audit) losing about 15% of their customers due to publications folding and others cutting costs. Sean also writes:

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Publications - like Fortune (one of my personal favorites - always a great read) - are getting dissed because the headlines often do not reflect what has gone on the past week or so when they hit the newsstands and mailboxes (the mailboxes on the street). This leads some, especially younger professionals, to seek other information sources. Which in turn leads to the BPA CEO lamenting that he needs to get his resume together....

no this is not going anywhere in particular. Just some random connections.

And btw: the Facebook article in Fortune by Jessi Hempel is great!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Why I Am Leaving Facebook, part 2

Carolne McCarthy at CNET has a good article on this
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10166663-2.html?tag=nl.e433

Why I Am Leaving Facebook

On the front page of the Baltimore Sun today there is an article titled "Facebook Faceoff" - an article that details Facebook's change in its privacy policy.

From the 2/18/09 Baltimore Sun, page 1:

"The change allows Facebook to keep user content such as photos and phone numbers even if members delete their accounts. Under the old terms, the license expired when users left Facebook."

The changes occurred quietly on Feb 4 but there is now a huge outcry. Again, according to the Sun, Facebook's Chief Exec said:

"We wouldn't share your information in a way you wouldn't want."

And just, pray tell, how the hell do you know what I want???

Their objective, apparently, is "continuity" - so others can continue to contact you. Well, continuity boy, I am easy to find on the web, and Facebook is one place you will no longer find me. While I am fairly certain they will reverse this policy, they will do it without yours truly. Amtower is leaving the building.

Adios Facebook. Here's hoping you soon become a footnote on how not to do things in social networking.

IMMEDIATE UPDATE:
Facebook apparently did reverse it's policy
http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=54746167130
but if you read this carefully - they are far from done. I am maintaining my decision to vacate facebook altogether and concentrate on (in order of importance to my business) LinkedIn, The Federal Contracting Network, GovLoop, Plaxo and possibly PerfectNetworker. You can also find me at Twitter - http://twitter.com/amtower

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

VAR Business folds into CRN, MacWorld Moves to the Next World

VAR Business folds into CRN, MacWorld Moves to the Next World (remember Steve’s other company, NeXT Computer?) - what’s next…
A lament sung to the tune of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”


Where have all the trade pubs gone
Long time passing
Where have all the trade pubs gone,
Long time ago
Where have all the trade pubs gone,
Gone to land fills every one -
When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn.

Where have all the trade shows gone
Long time passing
Where have all the trade shows gone
Long time ago
Where have all the trade shows gone
Gone to the web every one -
When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn.


If anyone would like to add a verse…feel free.

Friday, February 13, 2009

End-of Week Wrap, Free ebook and New CD Programs

Aside from having a cold this week and taking a few naps, the week was fairly productive.

Although I missed the ASBC (http://www.theasbc.org/) Business Over Breakfast Wednesday, I did speak the the Coalition for Government Procurement (http://www.thecgp.org/) MAS Bootcamp that afternoon to a group of 30 or so. And it was a really good event.

I did attend the ASBC quarterly State of the ASBC meeting Friday, and the ASBC Board of Advisors meeting after the general session. There was a great group of 65+ for the general members-only session.

And I made it into Washington Technology with Angela Dingle of http://www.exnihilo-mgmt.com/ . If you'd like to see the article, go here - http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2009/02/02/survival-guide.aspx

And on the home page of this blog, somewhere to the right of where you are now reading, I have a free ebook called Diving in the Deep End: The Top Things a CEO Needs to Know Before Entering the Government Market. This is a free ebook - you don't even have to give me your email address. Contributors to this ebook inlcude
Michael Balsam of http://www.onvia.com/
Judy Bradt of http://www.summitinsight.com/
Steve Charles of http://www.immixgroup.com/
Lisa Dezzutti of http://www.marketconnectionsinc.com/
Courtney Fairchild of http://www.globalservicesinc.com/
Michael Keating of http://www.govpro.com/
Bob Lohfeld of http://www.lohfeldconsulting.com/
Robert Silverman of http://www.reachsolutions.com/
Guy Timberlake of http://www.theasbc.org/
and I'd like to thank each of them.

Finally, we have finished producing our two latest audio programs and we will have those available to ship next week. The first, The Ulitmate Jumpstart Program for Getting PR is a 5 CD set with me being interviewed by Guy Timberlake for the first 4 CDs, and by Glenn Garnes of http://www.perfectnetworker.com/ on the final CD. Why interview me on this? Over the past 14 years I have appeared in about 200 publications and over 150 web sites and ezines. I have also been interviewed on over 50 radio stations (including web radio) web around the country, and in Canada and the U.K. I know how to generate publicity and show you exactly how I do it.

The second program is a 2 CD set called The Ultimate Jumpstart Program for Social Networking, where Glenn Garnes again interviews me on my use of LinkedIn. Cjheck out my profile on LinkedIn and see what I am up to in social networking.

If you can't wait until next week to place an order, email me at markamtower gmail com.

Have a great weekend, wherever you are! Vaya con dios!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why People Are Leery of Events, part 3

I did not have to wait long for the next message - it came this morning at 10:38 AM with a new sender - ChangeMaker Series, and a new subject line - Economic Stimulus Briefing . But it connected to the same event page, which still lists no speakers (not the keynote of any of the general session speakers) and no topics.

So the name has now changed for the briefing since my Feb 3 posting, the price has dropped 50%, then venue has changed (limited space as the venue shrinks) and we don't know who the speakers are. Hmmm......

Check out the previous posts for this: Feb 3 & Feb 11, and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why People Are Leery of Events, part 2

Got another e-invite to this event. Since my Feb 3 post on Equity International's briefing for The American Recovery & Reinvestment the registration fee has dropped from $495 to $250, there are still no topics or speakers listed in the agenda, and the venue has changed from the Willard Hotel to the Occidental Grille.

Might one assume registration is off for the event promising "the latest information from key leaders on the bill and the resulting spending. Features Congressional and Administration leaders; top experts; key briefing materials; and unparalleled networking."?

Will my e-invite Friday (the event is next Monday) be for $1.95 and the new venue be the back table at a local Starbucks? Isn't there always unparalled networking at Starbucks?

Leery indeed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Monday To-Do List and Social Networking CD Launch

Wed Feb 11 my friend Mac McIntosh, an expert in business sales lead generation, will be speaking at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College with several other professionals. Info is at http://image.emarketing.listengage.com/lib/ff081575756405/m/1/Mac_Offer.html

I would go see Mac, except that I am speaking at the Coalition for Government Procurement Bootcamp that day. Details at http://www.thecgp.org/.

The American Small Business Coalition is having its quarterly members-only State of The ASBC this Friday. If you are an ASBC member, or wish to join, go to http://www.theasbc.org/.

Finally, my new audio program, two CDs entitled The Ultimate Jumpstart Program on Business Social Networking, will be posted later today in the member section at http://www.governmentmarketingbestpractices.com/ where it will be free for members to download during the month of February. For non-members, it will also be posted at the the store at Government Express - http://www.governmentexpress.com/store.html. It will be available as a download and you can also order the CDs. The program is approximately 2 hours on why and how to use social networking tools for business. It includes step-by-step instruction for novices and pros alike to expand their reach and influence.

I listen to audio programs several times a week when driving and occasionally when I am in the office. I have over 150 audio programs covering many aspects of business, motivation, speaking, writing, and more and there is always one in my car.

Finally, my friends at Onvia have a new report, The 2009 Government Market Outlook, discussing where money will be spent in the government market. You can get the report free from their web site - www.Onvia.com.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Social Networking Myths and Voluntary Ignorance

Recently I have had conversations with alleged industry thought leaders and mavens who are loathe to acknowledge social networking as a legitimate business tool. As a result, these people are being marginalized and replaced without knowing why or how this is happening as well as that it is happening. These people are not simply not participating in social networks, but actively demean social networks and those who use them at every possible turn. This type of voluntary ignorance will result in the Darwinian elimination of these people as thought leaders.

These people are assuming several things about social networks predicated on outdated notions that may have been true when MySpace was the only network out there. These myths are perpetuated by the voluntarily ignorant, but that’s OK – they are simply making way for a new generation of thought leaders while they themselves face extinction.

Among the myths believed are

- all social networks are like MySpace and are filled with childish ramblings and pictures of people drinking in their underwear
- LinkedIn, MySpace - they're all the same
- anyone on a business social network is just looking for a job
- there are no legitimate connections to be made on these time-wasters
- they are only for people under 25
- social networks are not secure
- if you join you’ll just get more spam
- I can do all that stuff much better offline
- the “conversations” on social networks are vacuous and of no business use
- and on and on

I will not attempt to refute these on a line-by-line basis, but suffice it to say that those who believe these and other myths have missed the Web 2.0 boat, and they will be staying on Fantasy Island a while longer.

It is not incumbent upon me to attempt to educate the voluntarily ignorant, especially when they are obstinate in their ignorance. I have halted my efforts in educating these people and as a result have reevaluated their position in my universe.

When they marginalize social networks and those using them, they have marginalized themselves in a way that they may never see.

When and if they finally get a clue and test the Web 2.0 waters, they will find themselves not only behind the curve technologically, but out of the thought leadership loop they thought they were driving.

Not that I have an opinion....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why People Are Leery of Events

I got an email today from a company I have not heard from in a long while - Equity International. The first time I heard of and from this organization was an email right after 9/11, with a similar offer. Today the subject line said - "Invitation to The American Recovery & Reinvestment Briefing."

Where - Willard Hotel- DC
When - next Wednesday, 2:00 PM- 6:00 PM.
Fee - for corporate - $495 if you register ahead of time, $595 at the door. (Government, military & diplomats are admitted free - apparently they have not heard about President Obama's restrictions on accepting gifts, including events.)

The event "Features Congressional and Administration leaders; top experts; key briefing materials; and unparalleled networking." - yet strangely, there are no names listed in the agenda. The agenda itself is kinda vague:

1:00 PM Registration

2:00 PM Welcome

2:05 PM Keynote Address

2:15 PM Congressional Budget Panel

3:00 PM General Session

3:45 PM General Session

4:20 PM General Session

5:00 PM Networking Reception

6:00 PM Adjournment

But don't worry - it's "Brought to you by Equity International, organizer of The Presidential Inauguration Conference last month: .... More than 35,000 leaders have participated in Equity International’s highly-regarded forums."

So, in summary - you can spend several hundred dollars to hear speakers TBA, in sessions that are "general" and "unapralled networking" at the reception.

I can hardly wait.....

Friday, January 30, 2009

End of Week Notes

The Meet/Network with the B2G Press event I referenced a few days ago now has a web site for registration - http://www.eventbrite.com/event/263857204. I would suggest registering early as this will sell out. If you attend, look for me.

My radio show Monday (2/2/09) will feature Bob Woods, CEO of Topside Consulting (www.topside-consulting.com). Bob is a former Federal CIO (GSA, VA, others) and we thoroughly discuss what the transition means to both senior Feds and the contractor community. This is a good interview. The show airs at noon Monday on 1500 AM in Washington, DC and is simulcast on www.FederalNewsradio.com, where it will also be archived. On Monday, Feb 9, my guest will be Kevin Plexico of Input.

I will be in the February issue of Washington Technology...comes out Monday.

At another 1105 media property, Wyatt Kash, editor in chief of Government Computer News (www.GCN.com , also takes the top spot at Defense Systems magazine (http://defensesystems.com) while retaining his role at GCN.

And in case you missed it, I was also featured at www.TheStreet.com
http://www.thestreet.com/story/10458382/1/the-government-as-a-rich-business-client.html

Have a great weekend!