Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I prefer to give away things that could be used for a while, or have some relationship to what I do/sell.
The best business item I give away is a mousepad in the shape of a big green #1 with a quote from my first book: "The government is only sexy if you like money." Most people find this amusing...and they keep it.
This morning while getting ready to do the Washington Post crossword, I picked up a pen and clicked the top. Nothing happened. I clicked several times. The writing part of the pen would not come out.
I tried to unscrew it to see if that would help, but the pen would not unscrew.
I looked at the name on the pen.
It was from a promotional products company....
Thursday, September 30, 2010
What does this mean?
The core business of Deltek is/was accounting and program management software, in which they remain a leader. But the field is much more crowded, and Microsoft has become very popular there.
So, being well-established in the government market, Deltek looked for growth in related areas.
Last year Deltek bought MY SBX which became GovWin. This is one of several acquisitions over the past 4-5 years.
With the purchase of Input, Deltek immediately becomes the leader in contract opportunity tracking.
While there are other players, notably Fed Sources, Onvia and some others, Deltek/Input is the biggest.
But in thw wings, trying to get a handle on the market, is Bloomberg and BGov...
I will have more on this soon, but in the meantime, the issue that many were thinking about... will Deltek host the annual holiday party???
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
- that Deltek was a very potential buyer (bet on this horse);
- that 3 companies were in the final bidding and there might be a deal to slice INPUT into pieces among the 3 (very strange, but I guess it's possible)- much less likely scenario;
- that it could be Fed Sources (sorry, but where would they get the money?) out of the question :
- that it is a private equity firm (makes the most sense)- made more sense yesterday;
- that a very senior person has left (only one source on this one);
<>this is true
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
- that Deltek was a potential buyer;
- that 3 companies were in the final bidding and there might be a deal to slice INPUT into pieces among the 3 (very strange, but I guess it's possible);
- that it could be Fed Sources (sorry, but where would they get the money?):
- that it is a private equity firm (makes the most sense);
- that a very senior person has left (only one source on this one);
- several people jumped in to tell me that INPUT has been "on the block" for several years (only partly accurate);
- that the likelihood of it being BGov is low (this from several reliable sources).
Please keep in mind that I am not getting anything from inside INPUT and I am not aware that I know anyone inside BGov. Even though I am connected to over 2,500 people in the government market on LinkedIn, I have no Bloomberg/BGov contacts.
SO, my post Saturday was probably off the mark in who the buyer was- if there was a sale.
I predicated my assumption/guess on several things I heard last week, most of which I cannot mention here. Suffice it to say, there was something going down Thursday and Friday that involved INPUT. Whether or not it resulted in a sale, well, we'll all find out about the same time. Maybe here.
Which leads me to conclude that I may be wrong about BGov/Bloomberg (expert witnesses are against me here), and that the final deal may still be in the works.
If that's the case, I was wrong on both fronts (buyer and sale) - but boy, it was fun thinking something had occurred!
But stay tuned- I will be watching INPUT, FSI and Bloomberg closely.... and news is coming very soon...
Isolated incident or shape of things to come? Applications for Schedule 75 (Office supplies contract) suspended…
GSA is looking for ways to leverage its buying power, apparently without considering ramifications for companies that have spend time and money getting Schedules. The award itself (to me) appears flawed, in that planned “levels” of discounts will not be supported by all of the BPA awardees.
Will this experiment be extended to other product categories? My guess is that it will, and probably not far down the road.
Please share your thoughts.
This and other topics will be addressed at the 7th Annual Summit on Selling Products to the Government –
Monday, September 27, 2010
I have also heard that government accounting software firm Deltek was the buyer. And several people saying it is a private equity firm.
There have been several other rumors regarding key people leaving Input- all unverified.
If I had one major guess, it would be that I believe the company has been sold, but we are all waiting to see who the buyer is.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Further, the unverified word is the buyer in Bloomberg/BGov. I have heard this from mulltiple sources near both parties, but nothing fom inside either.
If that is accurate, there will be a significant shift in the contract information landscape over the next several months.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The I posted that I was staying because several people asked me to stay. So I stayed.
Recently several people pointed out that FB was becoming more business friendly, and when I took a closer look- it was indeed. So I decided to play around.
So, what does this mean for me & B2G social networking?
Well, first things first. In my several interviews with web 2.0 guru David Meerman Scott (author or World Wide Rave, The New Rules of Marketing & PR) he always says to focus on one primary network.
Check. My primary social network is LinkedIn. On LinkedIn I have almost 2,800 direct connections, and a network of about 15,000,000 (within 3 degrees), am in 50 groups and 12 sub-groups (50 primary groups is the max), and I am quite active. I have also been mentioned in at least 3 books for my use of LinkedIn. I like it.
But, last Friday I sent invitations on Facebook to about 100 people (connections of friends), added about 60 contacts ("friends") and started a group, or fan club, for my company (see "Amtower & Company" on FB)- which 60 people joined in 3 days. I am over 500 connections now at FB, and that is growing.
Does this mean LinkedIn is in jeopardy of being displaced?
Certainly not in the near term, but web 2.0 does not stand still.
And Web 3.0 is on the horizon moving in fast.
Monday, July 12, 2010
SO....what's in your pipeline? Are you further developing agency relationships already in place?
Are you prosepcting?
Pursuing task orders to help clients get rid of the pesky left over $$$funds$$?
We are facing a flat, perhaps smaller 2011 budget, so companies are circling the wagons around the accounts they currently have.
What are you doing for end of FY?
Sunday, June 20, 2010
If you listen to my radio show or have heard me speak in the last three years, you will know that a significant part of my message has been the growing use of social media and web 2.0 tools for B2G marketers. Among the tools I have been advocating are webinars, podcasts, video, and various social networking tools, especially LinkedIn.
Last year Market Connections (http://www.marketconnectionsinc.com/) released the 2009-2010 Federal Media and Marketing Study which touched on the use of 14 social media tools. According to the now year old study, the top five social media tools were Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, My Space and Twitter.
Fast forward to the just released Market Connections 2010 Social Media Study. This study (available for purchase at the above mentioned web site) indicates a rapidly growing acceptance and use of social media tools by both industry and government. Government is lagging behind, but they have more restrictions for everything. However the study indicates use of social media by 29% of Feds and 55% of contractors.
The main uses of social networking by contractors are marketing and sales (60%), event information (59%), press releases (51%), job postings (44%), white papers/case studies (38%), presentations/speeches (35%), videos/pictures (28%), and product demos (23%). There are more findings, but these are the major ones.
The finding in this study that shows the biggest change from the 2009 study is that LinkedIn has emerged as the most popular social networking site with 36% of the responders using it. Facebook was at 26%. It my interview with John Kagia of Market Connections (http://www.federalnewsradio.com/) he indicated that the use of these networks continues to grow.
So why is this important to you?
LinkedIn has over 70,000,000 users worldwide, with the majority are in the U.S. - and it continues to grow. My research indicates the Washington Technology Top 100 are all here, in significant numbers. Rarely do I find a significant government contractor that is not on LinkedIn.
If you put "government" in the search box and search on "groups" you will find (as of 6/20/10) 4,197 groups having something to do with government. In the top 100 of the government groups there are 20-25 that focus on some aspect of government contracting, including one of my groups, Government Market Master (with almost 1,400 members).
So again, why is this important to you?
According to the Market Connection study, only 19% of the companies using social media have a strategy or social media policy in place. With no strategy or policy, there will be little or no way to measure the effectiveness of what you are doing, what messages are going out, and what image of your company is being presented.
If you devise a proactive social media strategy (with an intelligent policy behind it), you will be able to use some measurement tools, set some goals, and start measuring the effectiveness of various platforms.
Nowhere in the Market Connections study did it mention one of the major uses for LinkedIn for small businesses: differentiation. All businesses need to differentiate themselves, but for small government contractors, it is closer to a 'life and death' situation- differentiate or die a slow death.
For any small business not currently using social media, or using it only in a limited way, you are missing the major low-cost marketing tool that can truly help you stand out in the crowd.
Here's what you can do right now:
Over the next six months I will be hosting a coaching group for companies seeking to grow their businesses by the intelligent, proactive use of social media, focusing largely on LinkedIn.
During the six months of the program, we will host 2-3 teleseminars each month (all will be recorded and be available for replay) and there will be monthly one-on-one coaching with each company. Each company will also get an initial tele-planning session with me to create an action plan that suits your needs.
By the end of the program, you will end up with an audio library of 15+ hours of training you can use again and again. And you will be light years ahead of where you are on LinkedIn now.
Each tele-session will focus on one topic:
- social media policies
- developing benchmarks
- building personal profiles that attract customers and partners
- finding and managing your company profile
- finding and joining groups that can help you grow
- how to reach out to potential partners and customers and build your network
- selecting LinkedIn applications that will work for your company
- publicizing your company and events
-using Q&A, recommendations, defining your area of expertise and much more.
After each session you can do Q&A with me via email, and use your monthly session to tie this into your custom program.
And all participants will get my 3-CD set, The Ultimate Jumpstart Program for Social Networking – Maximizing LinkedIn.
If you are interested in seeing the details, email me at mark (at) FederalDirect.net or call me at 301 924 0058.
Why me, why Mark Amtower?
I have been on LinkedIn since February 11, 2004. My "membership" number is around 225,000 - out of 70,000,000. Currently I have nearly 2,700 connections (primarily in the government market), belong to 50 groups (primarily B2G in focus), and have gained national recognition for my use in social media (one of the top 7 LinkedIn profiles in the 2009 Rock the World with Your Online presence contest) and being profiled for using LinkedIn as a thought leadership tool at MarketingProfs. I have also done about 25 media (radio and print) interviews on using LinkedIn. The FedTech Bisnow newsletter called me "the Lord of LinkedIn" (11/10/09, http://www.bisnow.com/washington_dc_tech_news_story.php?p=6007 ).
Everywhere I go in the arena of doing business with the government, people know me because of my use of LinkedIn. Take a look at my profile and see why.
Then call me and sign up so you can get the same results.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
The government market remains one of the bright spots in the current economy. Regardless of what you sell, the government probably buys it.
According to Onvia, here is what the government spends:
$5.5 trillion a year
$105 billion a week
$15 billion a day
$625 million an hour
$10 million a minute
$175,000 a second.
Spending by federal, state, and municipal governments now represents almost half of total U.S. GDP, and some expect it to increase in the coming years. If you sell a business product or service, the odds are that the government is a potential or current customer. Companies that ignore the government sector are significantly disadvantaged.
If you are interested in pursuing government business for the first time, or growing your current government business, please read on-
Over the past few years there has been a tidal wave of renewed interest in the Business-to-Government (B2G) market by companies selling virtually any legitimate business product or service. The Federal government remains a dependable income base for savvy companies. When B2G is worked properly, it is almost a recession-proof market.
However, if it is not worked properly, it will devour your time, money and effort and leave you with less than you started. There are many ways to start down the wrong path, including attending events that promise and don't deliver, or hiring the wrong consultant.
Every year of the thousands of companies that enter the government market, most leave after a short time, as they had grossly inadequate preparation on what is required in terms of infrastructure, marketing and overall expectations. Unrealistic expectations, a poor market entry strategy and the wrong advice will kill any effort.
You need to set attainable goals, develop an action plan that gets you there, and set a realistic timeframe to accomplish the goals. You need to understand the resources needed along the way. Doing the research to determine the goals and the action plan is one of the areas where I can help.
The B2G market requires both a different knowledge base and a different set of skills than B2B. Without the knowledge and skills, your market entry and growth is doomed to failure, or at least very slow progress. Further, the more “niche” your product or service, the more your market approach needs to be targeted precisely to that niche. Your market entry program must avoid a formulaic approach. To start properly you need insight, research and you need to start developing and managing your B2G network.
If you are already in the market and you are not maximizing results from your marketing and sales programs, you may also need some outside help.
If you want to discuss what I can do for you, simply send me an email and we can set up a time to talk - Mark@FederalDirect.net. If I can help, I will say so and explain how. And if I can't help I will direct you to someone who can and help you get in touch.
And if I can help, you and I will design a program that fits your needs and your budget.
Why discuss this with me?
Since 1985, I have advised over 250 companies on successful market entry and growth. My clients include manufacturers, publications, catalogs, resellers, integrators, seminar and event producers, educational institutions and many others. I have advised clients in a broad range of product and service categories and have been successful in helping each company willing to act on my advice.
Over the past 26 years in the government market Amtower & Company has developed a reputation for excellence that is unparalleled. My successful clients represent both market approaches: contracts (GSA and other contracts) and open market (no contracts). Many of these companies have remained Amtower clients for several years. Check out my LinkedIn profile to see some of the over 200 recommendations I have from current and past clients, and from my peers.
My advice has been used by large and small companies, novices and B2G professionals, to sell billions in products and services both through contracts and via open market.
I only take on clients where I can truly add value. So send me an email so we can set up a time to talk- Mark@FederalDirect.net
Have a successful 2010- and beyond!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
My panel consisted of three extremely bright and well-versed knowledge management pros: Susan Camarena, Chief Knowledge Officer of the Federal Transit Administration, Barbara Pearson, Director of the KM staff at TTB in Treasury, and Rachel Lunsford, management analyst in the Office of Information & Technology, Veterans Administration. We had about 120 people in our session and overall it was quite informative, and thanks to my great panel, I think the attenders walked out with some great information. We also got to test an "instant poll" technology at the end of the session, prompted by the questions on our PowerPoint slides. People "voted" with hand-held keypads at the tables.
This event reminded me of the power of niche events. Niche events tend to provide more targeted information to an audience that cares about the topic (audience of Feds and vendors), and these events tend to be more more of a community affair as a result. Shared interests do that, really bring out the community in the gathering. It is difficult to explain to novices the power of targeted events, but if you were there, you could feel it.
After the panel session I was discussing that with Kim Hower of VMWare- how the government market truly niches down at the upper levels- a series of overlapping and inter-related circles of influence and interest. The deeper you get into the government market, the more important these niches become.
This is what we (anyone in the market) mean when we say this is a relationship driven market. You need a strong knowledge of your niche, then the ability and drive to find those people who share those interests. The resulting community shares knowledge in venues provided by trusted sources throughout industry and government. Fortunately, not all the venues are virtual.
I saw several industry friends at the event- Marc Hausman, Maxine Teller, Tom Ruff, Bob Gosselin, David Hubler, Wyatt Kash and others.
So why was I invited to moderate a Knowledge Management panel? Go back to who invited me. Suzanne Young and I have known each other for a long while, she from the event perspective, me from the speaker/industry watcher & commentator/consultant perspective.
It is a relationship driven market.
Thanks Suzanne- I had a blast!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
For those new to the government market, you must understand that this market is very different from BtoB and BtoC, and you have to understand these differences and other market nuances to succeed. If you enter the market without experienced guidance, you will be severely handicapped.
For those of you doing credit card/transactional business, you may already doing business with your favorite Uncle. Credit card orders may not look like government orders, but they certainly can be. Government credit card activity can give you an idea about the potential you have in the government market.
On the federal level, there is a simple test- run the prefixes that only federal credit cards have. Federal Visa cards will begin with either 4486, 4614 or 4716 and federal MasterCard cards will begin with 5568 or 5565. These prefixes are reserved for federal government credit cards.
The federal SmartPay card (aka small purchase card) accounted for $20 billion in activity in federal FY 2009. Purchases made via the SmartPay credit card under $3,000 (the official micro-purchase level for federal spending) require no contracts which is why you may be doing business with the feds without knowing it! A federal cardholder can make a purchase from any legitimate business via the credit card. We know most state and local governments have similar programs, but there are not current statistics on usage.
Many companies want to learn how to start or grow their government business. So far this year I have had about 15-20 inquiries a month regarding either market entry or questions on how to expand existing government business.
In response to the demand, I have re-launched my Government Market Master consulting group. Since the early 1990s, I have advised over 200 companies on growing their government business and several companies still use my consulting services.
If you are interested in entering the government market or growing the government portion of your business, contact me today about the program I am putting together for 2010-2011. Mark@FederalDirect.net
This is a year-long program designed to help any company enter the government market successfully and help those already in the government market grow their government business.
Each member company will have an action plan customized to meet their specific needs in this complex market. This is the plan we will work from during the course of the year-long program.
This program will have a limited number of openings, so contact me now for details and to schedule a time to discuss your needs. There is no obligation on your part for the initial call. It is simply to determine if this program can help you.
So contact me me today- Mark@FederalDirect.net.
This program is designed to be affordable even for smaller companies. The information provided to each member can have a dramatic impact on your ability to grow your government business.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
In my monthly column at WashingtonTechnology.com in Dec, 2009 I addressed the concept of "intellectual real estate"- defining your position within the market. The article is here:
Defining and defending your market position is how you differentiate yourself in this or any market. It is, or should be, your competitive advantage, and it must be actively defended.
In my most recent WT column- http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2010/03/25/Amtower-WT-April.aspx
I discuss two tactics you can use to define and defend your niche: blogging and micro-sites. A micro-site is a mini-web site, usually just a landing page, which allows you to discuss one subject and then direct visitors to register for an event, get more product or service information from your home page, to take some action.
Both blogs and micro-sites allow you to
1) define a position
2) show thought leadership for that position
3) drive qualified traffic to your main site
4) help you start to "own" that niche in the market as the blog and/or micro-site becomes more pervasive.
Blogs are more robust and require more regular content, but micro-sites also need to be updated with new products, services, white papers, etc.
Micro-sites require separate urls. Because your company already has a web site, and a url that reflects the company name (but probably not the niche you are defining), I strongly suggest you buy the url for the micro-site that targets the niche specifically. While most .com and .net names have been snatched up over the years, the aftermarket for urls is booming now that .com's are truly running out.
Recent searches at Afternic.com and BuyDomains.com (think of these as the eBay for urls) show hundreds of names available starting with "Government", "Federal", "Gov" and "Fed." Think FedSecurity.com, GovNetworkSecurity, FedFacility.com, and on and on.
Think also of the hot topics in our market: telework (after the big storm last month this is really hot), network security, cybersecurity, training, safety, facilities, government managers and executives, the stimulus program and more.
Do your products and services target these audiences? And if so, are you maximizing your web presence to drive as much traffic as possible to your main web site where you can convert the leads to customers?
Carefully consider using micro-sites and blogs to enhance your web marketing program.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Hi…I see that Bloomberg acquired Eagle Eye… Why wouldn’t Bloomberg just buy Onvia if they really wanted to be in this space? Any thoughts? Thanks.
And here is my answer:
I have several blog posts on this here http://blog.federaldirect.net/
but to answer your question-
1) we don't know yet what Bloomberg's focus is - are they going after Congressional Quarterly, the Hill & National Journal? Are they targeting contract info like Input, Fed Sources & Onvia? Are they going to use the contract data to advise investors? All of the above? Something else? Is this an invasion or an incursion?
2) My guess is they didn't but Onvia because it is publicly traded and would not be cheap. Eagle Eye was truly the low cost point of entry. It came with a solid data repository, but it did not come with much of a customer base.
3) We will be able to discern more after we see what they buy next!
Stay tuned - and thnx for asking.
The follow up message read:
Thanks…I would think 100MM would be drop in the bucket for Bloomberg….
And my answer-
No argument from me, but it depends on their strategy and how much they think they can gain on the strength of their name. Judging from the press releases, they think the name Bloomberg will big equity in DC.
They are wrong.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
According to BtoB (direct quote from BtoB is in italics)- (Bloomberg) said Tuesday that Kevin Sheekey is rejoining the company as chairman of the government-oriented division. He will also oversee government relations and communications.
Sheekey, who most recently was New York’s deputy mayor for government affairs, worked at Bloomberg from 1997 to 2001.
“Kevin will oversee a service that applies Bloomberg’s unmatched capabilities in data gathering and analytics to a one-stop, integrated information source of government information. Bloomberg is ideally positioned to address the fragmented market for information about people, decisions and data in Washington that affect business,” Daniel Doctoroff, president of Bloomberg, said in a statement. Bloomberg, which has traditionally shunned acquisitions, has been aggressively expanding beyond its core terminals business. The company acquired BusinessWeek late last year.
Alright, let's deal with a couple of tidbits in here.
First, being a former Bloomie and Deputy Mayor of NYC apparently qualifies Mr Sheekey as 'the guy'. While there is sense in this, as far as knowing the Bloomberg method, there is no sense in it if they plan on his being the main BGov person in DC. This market requires an insider as the driver. DC is a relationship driven market and you need a Rolodex or LinkedIn connections with hundreds if not thousands of contacts and those people need to know and trust YOU.
The other point I wish to address is "the fragmented market for information about people, decisions and data in Washington that affect business." While this is a catchy phrase, it means very little.
People, decisions and data.
This implies that there is information worth paying for that is not currently available in DC, or at least not available in one place.- information that involves each of these elements.
This reminds me of a situation I faced in 2002, when I was called by someone from NY who wanted to start a publication in DC - The Federal Paper. I wrote an Amtower Off-White Paper about this (see below), but I advised him against moving ahead. the federal paper folded after 2 issues.
Here is the Off White Paper (and keep in mind I wrote this long before The Apprentice):
"Off-White Paper" #17 - News for the News Impaired: An Amtower "Off-White" Paper
In 1998, I wrote a second Off-White paper on trade shows (Off-White 3.1), about the soon to be ill-fated GovTechNet. The overall point of that piece was "where is the value-add" for this event – what’s the point? We already have two big events, and unless you’re targeting a strong niche, there is no need for this. Well, I pissed off a few people. Again.
And, the event folded in short order.
And now we have a similar situation. The Washington Post announced 9/23/02 what many of us already knew, that there was another publication being launched in the Federal market. The Federal Paper is to be a weekly targeting "senior executives, presidential appointees, and the Hill" (read: the already overworked, the learning impaired, & the otherwise unemployable) with news that apparently they aren’t getting elsewhere. A controlled circulation base of 30,000 of people who need yet another news source.
- 7,000+ presidential appointees (deer-in-the-headlights syndrome);
the Hill, 1,000-2,000 (with news about the executive branch? They already know everything they want to know, which they get from The Idiot’s Guide to the Executive Branch);
- 5,000+ career SES people (my God, people who work!)
- and another 15,000 "senior" people (AARP?).
News in Washington, D.C. which they aren’t getting elsewhere?
Well, of course, there is no news for these people in Roll Call, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Government Executive, the Post’s Federal Page, FCW or GCN and a host of others, including paid newsletters, e-newsletters, web sites and gossip.
That being said, an experienced team has been assembled to pull this off, and it is led by someone with a publishing background.
But the premise remains weak, and when my clients and friends call (I get at least one a day on this one), my advice is "save your money, or if you have that much to spare, give it to me."
So here’s how they got there…
Market research: three sycophants and a rich person in a room with a case of Heineken and four straws.
Rich guy: "I think we can make a play in the public sector publishing market."
Sycophant 1: " Oohhh, it’s a great market."
Sycophant 2: "Aahhh, it’s a huge market."
Sycophant 3: "Yes, but aren’t there…"
Rich guy: "You’re fired."
Sycophant 1: "Decisive."
Sycophant 2: "Forceful."
Rich guy: "Adjourned."
Come to think of it, I am out of cat litter.
Not that I have an opinion on this….
Copyright 2002, Amtower & Company
Friday, February 26, 2010
1/27/10, 4:59 PM
"Sources tell FishbowlDC that an underground project, slated to put a hurtin' on NJ, CQ-Roll Call, The Hill and Politico is underway at the Washington bureau of Bloomberg News. Rumor has it that the project's aim is to specifically report and track Cap Hill news using a dashboard site similar to Bloomberg's existing technology. "
Few details about the initiative have surfaced but the competition has already begun in the HR department. Reportedly led by former CQ Editor and VP Mike Riley, we hear that recruiting efforts have already snagged several CQ folks including top salesperson Joanna Matthews.
At the time of this post, Bloomberg could not comment on the project or specific hires but a rep tells FishbowlDC, "We are hiring globally and Washington is increasingly important to our subscribers, readers, listeners and viewers. Naturally we are adding staff in the DC bureau."
"Bloomberg News still isn't talking about the development of their new product, designed to take on The Hill, CQ-Roll Call and other Cap Hill pubs but details about the venture have started seeping out since FishbowlDC first reported this afternoon.
Sources at the organization say the initiative is being overseen by execs Chris Walters and Don Baptiste who have traveling to Washington on a weekly basis. Additionally, Chris Roush from UNC's "Talking Biz News" tells us that the project is expected to have a $100 million budget, will create 40-50 editorial positions and is being referred to as "BGov" internally."
Amtower analysis (see my previous posts on this over the last 10 days): Bloomberg is looking to become a major paid information provider on multiple fronts.
- On one front, they will take on the Capitol Hill pubs (National Journal, Roll Call, etc), which includes the Hill and K street (lobbying) audience.
- On another front they will apply their traditional market expertise (finance/investment) to the complex government contracting community and provide an investment service to Wall Street that focuses on Global One - selling to the government (Federal, state and local). Input already announced they were providing an investment tool, Government Investment Advisor (GovIA), providing. Frankly a product like this is long overdue. "
- On yet a third front, Bloomberg will compete against Input, Federal Sources, Onvia and others in providing emerging contract opportunity data to the contracting community.
An Napoleon and others found out, fighting wars on multiple fronts is not a winning proposition.
Bloomberg does have deep pockets and can buy some of the competition, and this is what I expect to happen. With their apparently aggressive growth goals, the "purchase the competition" method is most likely.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
www.Mediabistro.com has a couple interesting posts regarding Bloomberg's foray into the B2G marketplace
"Ex-CQ CEO on Bloomberg BGov Board
The buzz is true and painful. Bob Merry, former CQ CEO, has accepted a position on the board of advisors for Bloomberg's BGov enterprise, FishbowlDC has learned."
This post is from Feb 2, and predates my first post by over 2 weeks. If I had been reading my daily emails from Mediabistro/fishbowl every day, I'd have been on this sooner! I knew Bloomberg was interested in B2G late last fall, but didn't think much of it. With the addition of Bob Merry to the advisory board of BGov, we know there is now some adult supervision. It would be interesting to know who else they have for this board.
"CQ-Roll Call Group Freezing Out Bloomberg -
Relations are getting icy between Bloomberg News and CQ-Roll Call Group.
A source at Bloomberg is saying that the CQ-Roll Call Group has refused to renew Bloomberg's subscriptions to CQ's congressional reporting services because, according to the source, "they now consider us a competitor."
Now this is more interesting, as it indicates more of the breadth and depth that Bloomberg may be interested in pursuing, or at least the paranoia they are causing by entering the market.
The paranoia is legitimate. It is not yet known how broad a net Bloomberg/BGov will cast over the market, so anyone providing government information may have cause for some alarm.
Upside: If Bloomberg makes the market more popular, more companies may be interested in entering the market and investors will may find it a more attractive market segment. Bloomberg would not be the only beneficiary from this.
What is known is that budgets are tight, information sources abound on the web for much of this data (often in raw form, but it is there), and that the true value comes from the added value current information providers bring to the table. The value-add comes from the ability to make sense from the data, make it usable, then useful. This comes from being a proactive student of the market over a long period of time. You have to know what is important to the market and be able to bring those tiny nuggets to the surface and delveier them to the right audience.
There is a major difference between making data usable and making it useful. Technically, FPDS (Federal Procurement Data Service) data is usable, but it has not been made useful (actionable). In the more raw form, it requires analysis from someone familiar with the nuances of the market to add true value. Top flight talent with B2G contracting experience on this is not readily available. It is a small club.
It will be interesting to see
- if Bloomberg/BGov will make more purchases,
- what kind of products and services they roll out,
- who will drive the BGov group,
- how the BGov group will be populated
- who Bloomberg will add to the BGov Board,
- how the competitors respond.
This is a long-term market. Companies entering with visions of near-term market domination predicated on a "brand" name are not only disappointed, but often end up as chalk outlines on the sidewalk. Bloomberg and BGov may have a real play, but if they enter with attitude and visions of near-term radical growth, it will be interesting to see if BGov becomes BGone.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Each of these news services/publications is quite expensive, so the circulation base (# of subscribers) was never huge.
CQ is currently owned by the Roll Call Group. I had the opportunity to consult with the original owner, Congressional Quarterly, on the waning circulation of the publication several years back. When I went to my first meeting there, they were trying to grow the circulation base for the publication while it was shrinking. The web was providing much of the news previously not available to the general public. This was several years back: factor in now the use of all the web 2.0 tools and news sources and the ability to get the info without the expensive publications is very real.
My advice back then was to shore up the base rather than to look for new subscribers. The logic was simple: after many years of publishing, they had exhausted most of the sources for new subscribers. The best use of the marketing funds was to keep those who were already subscribers and try to get those back who had recently cancelled. These publications, while fun and interesting, are difficult to sell on a one-to-one basis.
The market for exclusive information sources is shrinking because the "exclusivity" of the information is disappearing - there are literally hundreds of web-based sources that are free or cheap providing similar information.
The key is adding value for the subscriber. Bloomberg will certainly be able to add value considering the number of information sources it has to draw on, including BusinessWeek and the other Bloomberg sources.
In the meantime, Input has not been idle. On February 8 they announced the launch of Government Investing Advisor (GovIA). Quoting form the press release, Gov IA is "a new research offering designed to deliver unique data and insights to the investing community on government spending and contractor activity. Available immediately to subscribers, GovIA provides hard-to-find information and insight on the largest, publicly traded companies serving government, as well as government market data, spending analysis and forecasts."
To focus on this market Input hired Julie Santoriello Chariell as Vice President of Financial Services. She is a financial industry analyst formerly of Morgan Stanley.
Federal Sources is not sitting and waiting either. In a conversation with Ray Bjorklund Friday afternoon, he indicates Federal Sources is focusing on the core business of making their clients successful in their pursuit of government business. Sounds like a good move.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
As the WT article points, both companies have started to encroach on the other's turf with new products, or the threat of new products, so the split should not surprise anyone.
But what does it mean for the B2G market overall?
Cisco, like Microsoft, is every one's "big partner", and it has a huge influence on the B2G market.
Cisco has a well-directed B2G efforts which has been in place for several years, and they are truly pervasive in the Federal arena and throughout Washington DC. Their channel program has been consistent and well managed, which is a really big plus is a market where long-term relationships between companies are difficult to maintain. The channel program has allowed Cisco to identify and nurture many VARs and small IT companies that are now closely allied to Cisco.
HP, on the other hand, has had an inconsistent Federal program for years, sometimes favoring the channel, other times trying to go direct. During that same time, companies like CDW (and CDW-G) and GTSI have done well by and for HP in the government market.
What does this mean for HP in the federal market? Frankly, word on the street for a while has been that HP lacks a coherent and cohesive federal sales and marketing plan. There is HP presence in DC, but it lacks senior leadership. In a relationship driven market, this does not bode well for HP.
HP needs to put a senior director back in place in Washington DC and give him/her the clout to do what it takes to build a consistent B2G federal program.
In the WT article Gartner analyst Tiffani Bova said "she wouldn't be surprised to see the two companies iron out their differences eventually and come up with a more mutually acceptable pact."
Frankly I don't see that happening. Short of one company buying the other, this has as much chance as Steve Jobs showing up at Scott McNealy's birthday party.
If it becomes an all-out war, the channel players, especially smaller resellers, may be caught in the middle. These smaller channel players may have to choose between Cisco and HP.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Now the speculation is...... will they directly target Input and Federal Sources, or will they go after a different slice of the market? Where will marketshare occur?
Will they be able to differentiate themselves in a way that will appeal to whoever their audience is? Where will the value-add be?
Do they have someone or will they find someone of the caliber of Kevin Plexico or Ray Bjorklund to make the data (a truly vast trove at Eagle Eye) useful and usable?
I have heard from more than one source that Bloomberg has aggressive sales goals. But what are they selling and who is buying?
Those of us who have studied the market for more than a few years have all seen many companies come in with unrealistic expectations predicated on tea leaves and wishful thinking, the absolute knowledge that your brand will make the phone ring, and other equally unreliable forecasting tools.
This market is driven by relationships, and the relationships are backed by being able to deliver.
Watching what happens with Bloomberg over the next several months will be interesting.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Today I heard that Bloomberg bought government contract and grant research firm Eagle Eye Publishers. While the details are blurry, here is what I hear:
1) Bloomberg bought the data, and left founder & owner Paul Murphy with the name;
2) Mr Murphy will stay as a consultant for 6 months;
3) Bloomberg may not be done buying stuff;
4) Bloomberg has very aggressive sales goals.
What this means to the B2G world:
1) Onvia, Federal Sources, Input, Carroll Publishing and others now have another competitor - well actually the same number, as Eagle Eye is gone. But Bloomberg will be better financed and more aggressive.
2) Contractors will be getting sales calls from a new player that will be merciless in its pursuit of marketshare.
3) Maybe Washington Technology and WFED will have a new advertiser!
What value does Bloomberg bring to the market? That remains to be determined, but suffice it to say they have the resources to be a real player. If they can jettison any attitude that might accompany their entrance ("We're Bloomberg and you're not" a la Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live from the old days), they should do well.
If they come in with the attitude, many of us will be available to point it out.
Regardless, this will be fun to watch unfold.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I got a call the other day from someone I had advised a few years back. They had just read an article in the Wall Street Journal (Feb 2) entitled “Funding for Education Would Get a 9% Increase.” The article came with a chart of “Winners and losers” in the federal budget (the federal agency winners and losers).
The call was in reference to the increase in the Education budget and my friend wanted to know how much more they should focus on the Department of Education and the education market in general.
The article focused on the Obama plan to revise the Bush “No Child Left Behind” program, which has operated with very mixed reviews since its inception. This means the money would be going out in the form of grants to local jurisdictions predicated on meeting some new criteria (not germane to our discussion).
So I asked my friend these questions:
· How much of your business is the education segment?
· How many of the 13,506 school districts do you currently sell to?
· How are you planning on reaching the decision makers in each of those districts who are interested in what you sell?
· What makes you think that increase will be spent on what you sell?
· Would this mean you will spend less money marketing to the agencies that spend more with you?
· Now, do you still want to increase your marketing to the education segment?
I don’t know what my friend will end up doing, but here are the real issues:
· A 9% increase for the Department of Education translates into $4.5 billion, pocket change in terms of the federal budget.
· Even if the money is divided equally amongst the districts (which will not happen), the increase will not amount to a large pot to go after.
· If you have a limited marketing budget (and most companies do), you are better off making certain current customers are better served first before going after new customers.
Sometimes there is something to read between the lines, and sometimes there isn't.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Some traditional lead generation methods may still work, but are probably more expensive than they used to be. For example, direct mail was popular from the 1970s through the early 2000s, but the price has skyrocketed.
So, what still works?
Trade shows, in-agency & other events: Events, when properly selected to match what you do with what the attendees buy, are still among the top performers. If you select the wrong event for what you offer, you waste both time and money. Speaking as well as exhibiting allow prospects to find you. Simply attending offers a much smaller opportunity to be found. Caveat: there are a number of events that promise much and deliver little. Do your homework, ask questions, and check the pedigree of the event producer.
White papers: White papers have been around a long time, and they continue to produce qualified leads. The white papers can be placed at your web site, on the web sites where prospect traffic will occur (like Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week or Washington Technology), or they can be promoted in other ways.
Email: Email remains a productive way to get messages to targeted audiences as long as you remain well inside the “do not spam” rules. Federal agencies were among the early adopters of spam filters and black lists, and many people choose to ignore this and email away with any list they can get their hands on. Simply having an email address is not permission to use it.
eNews programs: e-Newsletters or ezines are another popular way to share information about your company, products, services and general industry information. Done well, these are excellent customer and prospect communication tools.. While it may take a while to build a subscriber base, the “opt-in” nature of these is a major part of what makes them work. Another facet of this are news releases sent direct out through the web, using tools like PRNewswire
Webinars: Among the fastest growing of all marketing tools is distance learning – sharing information through platforms like webinars. Several things are appealing about webinars. You can attend without leaving your desk, you can ask questions if you attend the ‘live’ version (KZO Innovations offers a tool where attendees of archived webinars can ask the questions), they are available ‘on-demand’ and they are much less costly to produce than live events.
Social networks: Among my favorites are social networks like LinkedIn, TFCN and GovLoop. LinkedIn has over 55,000,000 business professionals as members, and among these are tens of thousands of federal, state and local government officials. If you learn how to use these valuable platforms properly, prospects will begin to find you. TFCN and GovLoop are both under 20,000 members but are focused exclusively on government.
Blogs: Blogs are a great way to share your expertise with the world, get higher web rankings, attract partners, prospects and gain recognition. Done well these are more than worth the time and effort, Done so-so or poorly, and you can destroy your reputation.
Podcasts: Podcasts are usually 8-15 minute audio programs addressing a single topic. Think of them as audio white papers and the value should become apparent. People digest information in different ways, and fewer people seem to be reading as much. Make your information available in as many formats as necessary to reach the broadest possible portion of your niche.
Videos: YouTube has gained enormous popularity and many businesses (including B2G) are suing pithy videos to gain attention.
Too often senior management is reluctant to try anything but the “tried and true” methods with which their business was built: space ads, events, face-to-face networking at association meetings, etc. While these are still valid, the new methods of PR and marketing are surpassing the older ways rapidly. Marketshare can be gained or lost by not reaching those most likely to want your products or services in the ways they prefer to receive information. You don’t generate leads by wishing yesterday’s methods still worked.
Mark Amtower can be reached atMark@FederalDirect.net
this article appeared at www.WashingtonTechnology.com
Friday, February 5, 2010
The following info (in italics) is from an email Richard just sent me:
The decline in awardees is likely to GSA routinely termination contracts that have not sold $25k in the first two years or less than $100k after five-years.
In the last year, GSA has recognized the challenges to new GSA awardees and implemented the following:
1. Sales in first two-years after aware are expected to be $25k vs. $50k.
2. Requirement for each new awardee to complete GSA Pathway to Success Training http://webcast.gsa.gov/login.asp?lib=pn100381_gsa_pathways
3. Must have had two years of sales for the proposed products/services to the commercial or government sector (no start-ups).
4. Requires offerors to discuss how they plan to market their schedule, upon award in their submission package
Schedule 70 IT FY 2009 Schedule 70 IT
Top 25 Market Share 41.50%
Top 50 Market Share 54.20%
Top 100 Market Share 65.16%
Total Sales $15,713,948,624
Total Schedule 70 Awardees 5,333
Firms with Zero Sales 1,962 (36.78%)
As you can see, the top 100 took 65% of the $15.7 billion that passed through Schedule 70 in FY 2009, leaving 3,271 companies to split the remaining 35% (I removed the 1,962 companies that made $0). These percentages are very close to the FY 2008 results.
Apparently the top 100 do some things that others don't. My next article at www.Washingtontechnology.com will be addressing some of the things the Top 100 do that others should emulate.
Friday, January 29, 2010
This is the 2nd time this month that my 700 word story at www.WashingtonTechnology.com has moved quickly into the "most viewed/most emailed" slot, this time within 16 hours after posting.
My article on B2G lead Generation (posted late in the afternoon on Jan 27) - http://washingtontechnology.com/Articles/2010/01/27/GWACs-Demand-Leads.aspx, is creating traffic for WT and some feedback for me.
On January 8, my article on using Washington Technology to identify likely connection targets at LinkedIn rose to the #1 spot and stayed there for 4 days! So thank you for that as well.
http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2010/01/08/social-media-top-100.aspx?sc_lang=en . That artiocle generate lots of comments for me and another 50 connections at LinkedIn as a direct result.
So, my question for any readers here is what B2G topics on sales, marketing and BD will keep you going to my articles there and my blog here?
Thanks again for reading my stuff!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
There are several reasons to monitor and participate here. First, when you find categories germane to what you do, simply reading the questions and answers can be rewarding. Some pretty bright people both ask and answer questions. Second, if you need some research or different perspectives on a specific question, this is a great place to get new perspectives. Third, I have identified several people I wanted to connect to simply because of their answers.
This is part of a series I post in my groups at Linkedin. If anyone is interested in the other tips - simply let me know here. From now on all the tips will be posted here and announced on LinkedIn.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Here are the dollars:
$5.5 trillion a year.
$105 billion a week.
$15 billion a day.
$625 million an hour.
$10 million a minute.
$175,000 a second.
Spending by federal, state, and municipal governments now represents almost half of total U.S. GDP, and that percentage is expected to increase in the coming years.
Companies that ignore the government sector are significantly disadvantaged.
The Next Economy: 2010 Government Market Outlook Report and Webinar will give you the insight your business needs to capitalize on the enormous opportunity in the government marketplace.
Register to get industry insight on:
-Government investments in Infrastructure, Energy, and Information Technology - from regional health information networks and intelligent transportation systems to smart power grids
-Continued impact of Economic Recovery funding
-Subcontractor and supplier opportunities due to lower barriers of entry
-and much more
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The SmartPay program encompasses the purchase card, travel card, fleet card and the integrated card (a card which can do 2 or all 3 of the above functions).
In FY 2009 the Federal government spent $30 billion through the SmartPay program, with two-thirds of that going to the small purchase card - $19.9 billion. There were approximately 25,100,000 micro-purchases made with the SmartPay card.
The SmartPay program is great for many reasons.
First, it allows front line government personnel (civilian and military) to purchase goods and services when they need it without the painfully slow procurement process. The per-purchase limit (micro-purchase) is $3,000, so these people are not out there buying cars, buildings, etc. They are buying stuff they need to do their jobs. This actually ends up saving the government money (a cost-avoidance situation) because paper-based procurement costs mount up in personnel time used to do the procurement. The use of the SmartPay card avoids those costs.
Second, because of the total volume the government spends, each agency gets a rebate from the issuing bank.
Third, it allows companies without government contracts an opportunity to get some government business, including direct marketing companies, catalogers (especially BtoB catalogs), and even small-town main street type stores.
Any purchase under the $3,000 per-purchase limit (micro-purchase) does not require a government contract. And the SmartPay card can be used for the ARRA (stimulus) program.
I have consulted with over 50 open-market (non-contract) companies since the early 1990s about going after open market government business, and the results have been extraordinary. Several companies were able to ramp up to seven-figure annual business via the open market targeting micro-purchases. At least one company went into the eight-figure annual open market sales arena. My track record in this niche is unparalleled.
I have an article in a recent DM News on this you can read here:http://www.dmnews.com/government-credit-hasnt-dried-up/article/160372/
Two things: if you want to discuss what I can do for you, simply send me an email and we can set up a time to talk. Mark@FederalDirect.net
or here's the deal for companies that don't currently sell to the government but want to, and for companies that are selling to the government and would like to fine tune their efforts.
1) review your product/service category to determine the spend, see who the competition is, and determine how much each competitor is making;
2) define who the actual buyers are and how to best reach your target audience (direct mail, web-based activity, events, etc) with specific recommendations targeted to your niche, prioritize the agencies and offices to target;
3) determine if there is an opportunity for you under the stimulus program, and what it will take to pursue the stimulus funds;
4) discuss in realistic terms the resources you will need to successfully pursue government (Federal, state and local) business, including staff, training and other outside resources;
5) our recommended step-by-step action plan for your company, including the information you need for your web site to attract online government buyers;
6) include a one-year membership at http://www.governmentmarketmaster.com/ (an Amtower & Company web site that provides ongoing education on the government market; $499/yr value) - in effect a year long graduate course in B2G;
and as a bonus I will include my 4 CD set, The Ultimate Government Sales Jumpstart Program (priced separately at $195). And of course a signed copy of Government Marketing Best Practices, the best selling book on doing business with the government.
This is not boilerplate stuff - each report and action plan is customized for the client company. It will be delivered via a taped 60-90 minute teleseminar (which you will be able to download) with both a written report with a recommended action plan and a PowerPoint to use during the call.
The investment for this a one-time only special is $4,995, prepaid.
This is a "first-come, first scheduled" offer.
Get in touch with me ASAP if you want to take advantage of this. The anticipated response will fill my calendar for the next couple months.
And we do take credit cards.
Email me @ Mark@FederalDirect.net or call me @ 301 924 0058
to schedule your customized B2G research project and reference this blog post.
May you have a successful B2G 2010!