Monday, September 28, 2009
"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
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
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?
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