Friday, September 16, 2011

Helping Small Businesses get "Found": The Waldo Factor, part 2

Being "findable" and being credible after being found are the first two steps for leveraging web 2.0 tools to create qualified leads. In the government contracting market, this is more important today than ever before.

There should be little or no argument that the government contracting market will be more competitive as we move into FY 2012.

Regardless of the size of your company, we have a situation where the better known companies will have a huge edge (hint: better known does not always mean bigger). So, if you have a piece of any IDIQ contract- GSA Schedule, SEWP IV, 8(a) STARS, whatever- you need to work harder than ever to gain more attention with the buyers and influencers who can make or break your FY 2012. That includes both government buyers and other contractors.

Take for example the 8(a) STARS II program, a five year, $10 billion IDIQ GWAC.  As an IDIQ (indefinite delivery- indefinite quantity) GWAC (government wide contract), there is no requirement for agencies to buy off the contract nor is there any agency money assigned to the contract. It becomes job #1 for the winners of the contract to market the availability of their services through this contract to
key influencers in the government market.

There are 599 companies that own a piece of the 8(a) STARS II contract. Standing out in this crowd will not be an easy or quick task. Part of standing out in the crowd is positioning yourself as a leader in your niche, establishing your credentials and making certain that the word gets out to the right people. In a Federal News Radio interview on August 5, In Depth with Francis Rose, I predicted that less than 10% of the STARS II contract winners would make money fom the contract because of inadequate marketing and sales efforts.

For small companies, the intelligent use of social media and web 2.0 tools has become critical. Social media and blogs are the fastest growing line items in lead generation budgets because when used properly these tools allow a company to demonstrate an area of expertise, and to share relevent content with key buying influencers. It is one of the few tools that can really "level the playing field". When used properly, web 2.0 tools are low-cost and high impact.
Part of the credibility is what you do and how well you do it. Another part is who you know. Social networking allows you to exponentially expand your relationship reach. This morning (9/16/11) I received an email from a client. Yesterday I sent them an article that dealt directly with their core strength, an interview with a major federal influencer talking about this technical area. They asked if I knew the person quoted in the article. I did not- but I have 42 direct connections on LinkedIn that do know this person so I will be able to make the connection for my client. LinkedIn works if you use it properly.

And what about other web 2.0 tools?

According to a 2010 survey by Market Connections, Inc, over 40% of Federal information technology professionals "attended" more than one webinar in the past year. I expect the percentage to rise dramatically in the 2011 survey (to be released in Otcober). The fastest growing company in the government market, Carahsoft, has a library of several hundred webinars for customers and prospects. The webinars successfully act as a passive sales tools for Carahsoft. Just over seven years old, the company is on track to do $1 billion in sales this year.

This is not simply a matter of starting a blog, or creating a couple of webinars. It is a matter of selecting the right tools for your company and using them well, tools that show what you are capable of doing, tools that will attract buyers and influencers to your blog, webinar or social networking profile. Tools that will increase "findability" and build credibility and help you sell your services in this very competitive environment.

Or, if you prefer, you can wait for the phone to ring, the preferred tactic of many unsuccessful GSA Schedule holders.

The successful companies on 8(a) STARS, GSA Schedule and other IDIQs will be working hard to get on the radar of buyers and influencers and selling their products and services in FY 2012 and beyond. The companies that simply wait for business to occur will be waiting a long time.

If you are interested in deploying the right web 2.0 tools, in creating a "thought leader" or subject matter expert position, and getting your company on the government contracting radar, we should talk.

Drop me a line at and let's set up a time to discuss your use of Web 2.0 tools to grow your business.