Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thought Leadership and Sub-contracting (The Waldo Factor, part 10)

The Waldo Factor series of blog posts is designed to help those in the government contracting arena understand the power and importance of differentiation (determining what you do exceptionally well), then being found by the right people and companies once you have determined and enunciated what makes you different - the skill that makes you stand out.

Thought leadership is high on the list of marketing and business development topics lately, and much of what is being discussed as "thought leadership" revolves around content: generating content in various formats to share.

Being a subject matter expert or thought leader truly means being in the top 2% in your field and to have a documented history in that niche. Generating and sharing good content is part of the puzzle; having performed in the niche (past performance in gov-speak) is the ultimate key.

At numerous venues over the past year I have heard prime contractors address the issue of selecting sub-contractors.

Invariably one of the top criteria is the potential sub-contractor being a recognized subject matter expert and/or thought leader in a niche that matters to the government and to the specific contract, preferably a niche that is important to the program.

Ed Swallow, VP of Business Development for Northrop Grumman (Civilian) discussed this on my radio show April 9: he had four criteria:

1) having a killer app or skill needed for a specific program

2) a strong customer relationship where NG does not have one

3) geographic presence (being in a location near a customer where NG has no office and where it makes more sense to partner with a company that has that presence)

4) socio-economic status.

Dan Mintz (COO of PowerTek) was also part of the interview and introduced the concept of "the enduring value proposition"  - does your company have a unique process or suite of tools that adds value? Do you reinvest in that process to stay on the cutting edge?

You can listen to that show in the Federal News Radio archives:

My advice to the small business out there seeking sub-contracting opportunities is

1) determine your area of expertise;

2) demonstrate this skill through your work;

3) work hard at staying on the cutting edge;

4) clearly enunciate it when you have the opportunity in person;

5) clearly state it on your web site, collateral material, and your social networking activity.

Now you are ready to meet prime contractors that pursue contracts that involve your area of expertise.

These are topics that you need to address before you pursue sub-contracting opportunities.

Being found before you determine your area of expertise is akin to crying "wolf": you may get attention once or twice, but after that people will ignore you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Government Market Master (tm) program launches in June!


Contact: Kyle Anderson
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
301-369-2800, ext. 3015

Mark Amtower, Co-Director
Government Market Master™ Certificate Program

Capitol College to Offer Government Market MasterTM Program

LAUREL, Md. (April XX, 2012) – Capitol College has recently partnered with Government Market MasterTM (GMM) and will begin offering the program’s non-credit courses on campus, beginning June 2012. The Government Market MasterTM program provides government market professionals with ongoing professional development that addresses comprehensive best practices, processes and methodologies for gaining invaluable insight on how to develop and sustain meaningful business relationships with the Federal Government.

In order to receive a Government Market Master Certificate, individuals must fulfill course requirements in business management, sales, marketing, business development and social media. Individual track certificates are offered for each of the five areas.

“I’m very pleased to partner with GMM to deliver programming specifically designed to benefit the federal contractor community,” said Ken Crockett, director of Capitol’s Critical Infrastructures and Cyber Protection Center. “I believe GMM programming will help increase the volume of defense contractors that participate in the federal marketplace, thereby increasing competition within the contracting community. This will lead to improved innovation and better products and services for the U.S. government to consider, thereby enhancing homeland security.”

The program is customized for executives, managers and professionals who want to successfully transition their business-to-business approach to a business-to-government approach. Those looking to dramatically improve their current business-to-government initiatives will also benefit from GMM.

The Government Market Master program was co-developed by Mark Amtower, of Amtower & Company, author of “Government Marketing Best Practices” and “Selling to the Government.” Amtower & Company has been offering professional education for the government contracting community since 1991.

"This is the first certificate program for marketing, sales and business development professionals in the government market offered with a college or university," said Mark Amtower. "It is designed to help companies selling virtually any product or service to the federal government, and we plan to address selling to state and local governments as well. Our instructors will all be experienced professionals from the front lines of government contracting."
Learn more about Capitol College and the Government Market Master (tm) program here: www.capitol-college.edu/gmm

Capitol College is the only independent college in Maryland dedicated to education in engineering, computer science, information technology and business through practices of leadership and innovation. Founded in 1927, Capitol offers associate, bachelor’s and master's degrees, a doctor of science in information assurance, professional development training and certificates. Academic programs are grounded in centers of excellence; these include the Space Operations Institute, the Critical Infrastructures and Cyber Protection Center, the Innovation and Leadership Institute, and the Center for Space Science Education and Public Outreach. The college campus is located in Laurel, Maryland, a suburban setting midway between Baltimore and Washington, DC. www.capitol-college.edu.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Some great Small Biz Tips on Amtower Off Center for 4/9/12

My radio show, Amtower Off Center, on Federal News Radio has some great guests and some really good and useful information for those in the government contracting community. The show airs Monday at noon and is usually re-run on Thursday at 11 AM. It is also simulcast, archived and available for replay at http://www.federalnewsradio.com/?nid=77 . Recent guests include

- Lisa Dezzutti of Market Connections (we discussed media habits of feds and contractors, traditional media and web-based media),

- Harold Good of Frederick County MD (we discussed how local governments make purchasing decisions and his role as president of the National Procurement Institute),

- Peg and Claudia Hosky of FedInsider and Hosky Media (we discussed, among other things, the upcoming FedSMC conference in Cambridge MD),

- Guy Timberlake of the American Small Business Coalition,

- Bert Sadtler of Boxwood Executive Search

and others.

My two guests for Monday, April 9 are Dan Mintz (COO of PowerTek Corporation, www.powertekcorporation.com) and Ed Swallow (VP of Business Development for Northrop Grumman Information Systems (www.NorthropGrumman.com).

The conversation with these two was absolutely great but one thing that really stood out for me was Ed Swallow's four criteria for partnering with small businesses. They are, in this order:

1) having a killer app or skill needed for a specific program

2) a strong customer relationship where NG does not have one

3) geographic presence (being in a location near a customer where NG has no office and where it makes more sense to partner with a company that has that presence)

4) socio-economic status.

This was only a small part of the conversation. Tune in - this show is definitely worth your time!


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

GSA Conference SNAFU

I first heard about the GSA conference problems on In Depth with Francis Rose on Federal News Radio yesterday afternoon (4/2/12) after they picked up the Washington Post report (links for both below).

There will be much made of the GSA conference that led to the resignation of Martha Johnson and two others regarding this, and doubtless there will be Congressional hearings that will cost much more than the $823,000 that the conference cost. We cannot deny congressmen a chance to appear fically responsible during an election year....

But cost is not the entire issue: good management is the issue.

There are some serious issues with this conference, but one fact needs to be pointed out clearly. Those responsible for this were appointees, not career Feds. Apprently these appointees were warned several times to "tone down" the event by career Feds, whose advice was ignored.

It has long been my contention that there are too many appointees, political payoff jobs. Too often (as seems to be the case here), they come in with little or no grasp of how things are done, and worse, they take no time to learn and ignore those under them when they try to point things out.

Collateral damage here may involve events (conferences, seminars, briefings, and more) hosted by the government or attended by government employees and executives. While I hope this does not occur, I have seen similar situations with broad collateral damage. I would wager that conference and event planning professionals inside GSA were dropping hints and stronger messages along the way of this fiasco. I will also wager that those who were driving this event were oblivious to any and all advice regarding how government events need to happen.

There are several excellent firms that produce goverment events agencies, and in hindsight, one of these should have been used. Companies like the Federal Business Council, Fedinsider and others could produce an excellent event within budget and within all ethical parameters.

It is too bad that Martha Johnson suffered from the fallout here, as all my sources indicate she was a top-notch appointee.

Unfortunately, she is now collateral damage.

Washington Post story:

Federal News Radio story

Federal News Radio analysis

4/19/12 ADDITION - Mr Neely was a career and he was largely responsible for these problems, so my initial assessment was off the mark.