Friday, December 30, 2016

2017 - The Year of the GWAC

Recently Bloomberg Government (BGov) released a study stating GWACs hit a record $10 billion in 2016. 

I agree it was a record year, but the total was slightly over $15 billion, not the $10 billion reported by BGov. From the GSA GWAC dashboard, a call to the SEWP office and having worked with NITAAC during most of 2016, I knew the numbers: GSAs combined GWACs nearly $6.2 billion, NITAACs 3 GWACs almost $5 billion, and SEWP came in at about $4 billion.

Everett Dirkson would be impressed, because now we're talking real money.

Overall a good year across the board for the eight GWACs: 8(a) STARS II,  Alliant, Alliant Small Business, CIO-CS, CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business, SEWP V, and VETS,

Why the seemingly "sudden" growth? There are several factors.

First, and perhaps most obvious, many of the companies that own prime spots on the GWACs are out there actively pushing these vehicles to their customer and prospect base. The contracts offer lower fees for agencies than the GSA Schedules, are very easy to use, and have a broad range of products and services. The companies that are most successful on GWACs - even small companies - are aggressive in promoting those GWACs. Just look at the growth of Red River, a top SEWP perfomer over the past several years.

Which leads to factor two: OEMs and service providers love GWACs. OEMs without access to GWACs have limited access to Federal buyers. When Oracle announced it would no longer make products available on any GSA Schedule, do you think it hurt their sales?

Probably not, as their partners in the GovCon arena own spots on multiple GWACs and other IDIQs. One major partner, DLT Solutions, is on SEWP V, CIO-CS and has an Army BPA for Oracle. Oracle's departure from GSA Schedules will hurt Schedule 70, not Oracle.

I advise hardware manufacturers to talk to both NITAAC and SEWP directly, then to look for key contract holders, preferably companies that have spots on both contracts. Adding new OEMs on SEWP and CIO-CS takes hours, not weeks or months. I often assist OEMs in their search for right channel partners.

Another factor contributing to the growth is the number of sub-contracts for these vehicles is growing. Most of the prime contract holders welcome the new subs if it is a good fit for them and the contract. Joanne Woytek of SEWP, Casey Kelley of Alliant and Rob Coen, then with NITAAC but now at FEDSIM all discussed this aspect of their respective contracts when they were guests on my radio show on Federal News Radio. GWACs and IDIQs are frequent topics on my show.

If you don't have a prime spot on one of the GWACs, look for a partner that does.

Yet another factor is that each of the GWAC program managers will spend time with any agency contract shop explaining how and why to use their contracts, as well as the lower fees and the ease of use. SEWP and NITAAC are quite active in this.

We are also seeing more contract specific training events, a key to educating both buyers and sellers. I have moderated GWAC panels at conferences like 930Gov  and the Government Procurement Conference because of the growing popularity of GWACs. Alliant and SEWP both have major events in January 2017.

Then there is the FITARA halo effect. NITAAC has e-GOS, a dashboard that allows the agency (and the contractor) to see and download their entire transaction history: date, price paid, vendor, product/service, SIN, delivery and much more. This helps the buying agency when it does FITARA reporting. SEWP is launching a similar dashboard in 2017.

As FITARA will probably be with us for a while, the dashboards will make reporting almost seamless, making the contracts more attractive to CIOs.

Although there are other factors at play, when you tally the pluses of GWACs against the mis-adventures of strategic sourcing (FSSI), TDR and other GSA Schedule changes, GWACs come out looking like manna from heaven for both buyers and sellers.


If by chance you will be at the SEWP conference in January, 2017, I'd like to meet with you to discuss marketing tactics for your contract. I will be at the conference on January 11th. Shoot me an email and we can set a time to meet - 

I have been advising companies on marketing GWACs since 1995 and the 2nd GWAC ever awarded- SuperMini.

Have a successful 2017!

Mark Amtower

Thursday, October 13, 2016

NEW DATE: Don't miss Creating Your Subject Matter Expert Platform JAN 12, 2017 in Columbia MD

B2G will be tougher than ever in FY 2017 so you need to leverage every advantage - and create platforms that give you an advantage.

We are offering a workshop January 12, 2017 from 8am until 4pm that will help you define and develop your Subject Matter Expert (SME) platform.

Developing a subject matter expert platform is critical for success in the government market. This session combines elements of three Government Market Master workshops:

LinkedIn for GovCon, 
B2G Content Marketing and 
Creating the Subject Matter Expert Platform.

The workshop includes a 30 minute consultation prior to the session. As a bonus we are offering a post-workshop consultation to answer any questions.

The workshop highlights five stages to developing the SME platform:

1) determining your legitimate differentiator(s);
2) displaying the differentiator on your social profile and your web site;
3) substantiating the differentiator through content development, sharing and curation;
4) social engagement (live and online networking);
5) expanding your network.

To register, go here: 

There are many ways to differentiate yourself and your company to gain an edge over your competition. The area of expertise can be a technical or process driven differentiator; it can be predicated on relationships; it can be built around a deep knowledge regarding a specific agency, and more.

Defining and communicating your area expertise is critical for your growth and success.

This workshop will include a comprehensive 140 page workbook, snacks, beverages and lunch.

We are limiting attendance to 16.  The $100 discount code is "HTC1".

Reserve your seat today: 

Call or email with any questions: 

301 854 9493

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Marketing Warfare

I have a fascination with military history, especially battles and successful commanders. My library includes Sun Tzu (3 different editions- my favorite is the James Clavell version), the three volume set of von Clauswitz’s On War, biographies of Alexander the Great, the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon, Patton’s War As I Knew It,  Eisenhower’s War in Europe, Marketing Warfare (Trout and Ries), and more. You get the picture.

Recently I’ve been reading Cornell history Professor Barry Strauss, who writes well and extensively on ancient warfare, especially Greek and Roman. Imagine my surprise when I open an email from MarketingProfs and find “Disruptive Marketing Lessons from the Trojan Horse” by Professor Strauss.

So I ask myself, “Mark, what have you seen in GovCon over the years that reflects good military thinking?” Here are a few scenarios that came to mind.

The Importance of Beachheads

Micron PC (MPC) in the mid-1990s produced some great computers, but they were competing against some much bigger companies like Dell and Gateway. All three offered built-to-spec mail/phone order computers. The CEO of Micron at that time was a former Dell executive and he wanted blood, but under the guidance of the late, great Harry B. Heisler a plan was developed and deployed to go after market share in the four agencies where MPC had a strong beachhead, not to attack larger, much better financed companies across the board. Advising Harry was fun; flying to Boise from Baltimore less so, unless I was flying out with Tony Colangelo.

The result of developing the beachheads produced very significant growth in each agency, more than doubling sales in each agency over the next two years. Use your resources where you have that beachhead, and sell where you are known.

Exploiting a Weakness in Your Opponent

CDW launched the “G” division in the early 2000s. In 2004 I was given a tour of the new warehouse in Chicago as part of my introduction to my new client. The warehouse was a true “just in time” delivery powerhouse, as they could get things out the door that day if the order was in by 2:00 pm. My tour guide was the president of CDWG, Jim Shanks. During the tour we were discussing how to differentiate CDWG from GTSI and at the end of the tour I had the answer. At that time GTSI had been the dominant VAR for over twenty years.

“How long do you think GTSI takes to ship products?” I asked Jim. He did not know, but I did: Often as long as three weeks.

The first differentiator was “Order by 2:00PM and get it the next day.” Finding and exploiting the weakness propelled CDWG past GTSI in a few short years. 

While this was certainly not the only tactic that CDWG used (great marketing, sales and customer service were part of the package), it was a great way to kick off the offensive.

Guerrilla Warfare

About the same time CDWG was going after GTSI, Juniper Networks deployed a guerrilla marketing campaign against much bigger Cisco. While it had several elements, the most prominent was Farside-esque cartoons in Federal Computer Week.  The cartoons took maybe one-eighth of a page and were much less expensive that the two-page ads Cisco was buying. However, the cartoons were what people started looking for in each issue, with every cartoon offering a humorous barb. My personal favorite was a cat using a Cisco router as a litter box.

I did not advise Juniper so I don’t know the results, but I do know that there was a TON of buzz around this campaign.

Successful guerrilla warfare involves using unconventional tactics effectively, tactics your opponent does not expect and for which they are not prepared.

Final Thoughts

For marketing tactics to be successful you need to know the goal. I knew the goals of MPC and CDWG and they were successful well beyond the original intent. While I loved the Juniper campaign, I don’t know how successful it was, because I have no clue what their goal was.

Regardless of whether your problem is a limited budget, and well-financed much bigger opponent, or simply an entrenched enemy, there are ways to erode their market share and possibly displace them altogether.

My business development consultant friend Bob Davis once said "Marketshare is rented, never owned."  No one stays on top forever, and with a little help, maybe you can expedite their departure.

History books have valuable marketing lessons, especially military history.

Share your "war story" in the "Comments" area.

Thank you for reading this.

(This article first appeared in Washington Technology: 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Will your FY 2017 Kickoff be more of the same?

What does your FY 2017 Kickoff look like?

Winning government business in 2017 will be harder than ever for smaller businesses. Getting the attention of decision makers has never been easy, so getting and staying on their radar in ways that matter will be more important than ever.

Here's what we can be certain of: 

    - we will have yet another CR

    - competition will be tougher than ever

    - LPTA and FSSI (category management) will be with us

Now ask yourself these questions:

    - Are you going to be engaging in the same marketing activities as FY 2016?

    - Have you reviewed your marketing program to make certain it supports your BD and sales?

    - Do you want the same results as last year?

There are three key activities you can employ without breaking the bank:

-         -  differentiating your company in ways that matter to buyers and influencers

-         - clearly enunciating those differentiators via the number one platform where you will be vetted - LinkedIn

-       -   supporting those differentiators by publishing and curating content germane to your customers and prospects

First, unless and until you differentiate your company in ways that matter to buyers and influencers, you will always be one of many, not a company that stands out from the crowd.

Second, after you determine your legitimate differentiators you need to clearly enunciate them through your company web site and on LinkedIn. These are the two places where you will be vetted.

Third, now that you defined your niche and have clearly enunciated the differentiators, you need to defend the position. Generating and curating content that helps customers and prospects understand the issues and solutions around your area of expertise, and demonstrates that you are a leader in the category.

I have developed a half-day workshop that will help your company define and defend areas of expertise, then reach out and share those areas with your key prospect audiences. This workshop combines elements from my three most popular workshops: LinkedIn for GovCon, Developing the Subject Matter Expert Platform and Content Marketing.

The “Kickoff” is designed to differentiate your company, leveraging LinkedIn and launch your content marketing program and develop your subject matter expert position without breaking your budget.

The Kickoff workshop will help you:

-          - determine your core skills and create a differentiated market position

-          - define the key elements of your individual and company LinkedIn profiles

-          - identify and reach out to key prospects on LinkedIn, building a focused network

-          - successfully publish on LinkedIn

-         -  create original content and develop an editorial calendar

-        -  find and curate other content

-        -  build a legitimate, differentiated position in the government market

-       -   provide you a roadmap for building and defending a subject matter expert (SME) platform

-      -   and more.

Each workshop is customized for your company and the market niche where you operate.

I am offering an introductory investment fee for the Kickoff workshop of $3,995. The investment will go up to $4,995 on December 9, 2016.

Sign up today and reserve your Kickoff workshop. A $1,000 deposit is required to reserve your workshop, with the balance due seven days prior to the workshop.

I will require two weeks to develop your workshop. After you reserve your Kickoff at the introductory rate, you can choose any date that works between now and Friday, February 3, 2017.

To reserve your workshop, call or email me today-

301 854 9493

Best regards for a successful FY 2017,

Mark Amtower


Friday, August 12, 2016

Becoming a Recognized Expert - August 31

I met Mitchell Levy in 2007 through Jason Alba, author of I'm on LinkedIn, Now What?. Jason's book was a major motivator for me in  getting active on LinkedIn and social media in general. Mitchell published Jason's book, and he has since published four of mine.

Mitchell and I clicked the first time we talked. Every time we get together (via phone, we've never met in person) we share ideas, create new ideas, and generally have a great time. There is often no agenda for the call, yet somehow extraordinary ideas occur.

Aside from being a publisher, Mitchell is a thinker and advisor. He advises people and companies on becoming recognized experts. As this is also one of my disciplines in the government contracting community, we never run out of things to discuss.

In April of 2014 I was a guest on Mitchell's webcast, Thought Leader Life and for about an hour we discussed what it took to become a thought leader. It was truly a great conversation, loaded with tips. It also highlighted some mistakes many make on their journey for recognition.

We decided it was time for an update, so we are doing another webcast  - Becoming a Recognized Expert - on Wednesday, August 31 at 7:00 PM Eastern- 4PM Pacific - and I promise it will be time well spent.

There is no fee - just great information, tips you can start using immediately and more than enough to create a plan for you to start migrating to the recognized expert status.

Listen in an pick up some valuable tips!

Register here - and do it NOW! 

And please share this with your friends.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

My Key Take-Aways from the 2016 Federal Government Contractor Study

Most of my research is experiential, straight from the front lines, working with my clients and watching the market as closely as I can. However, when Market Connections releases a new study, I will be there. Their work usually aligns with my experience – not always, but we are normally close on all the major topics.

Their recent briefing from the new study, 2016 Federal Government Contractor Study, provided an overview of issues facing contractors, tools being used to respond to the changing conditions, marketing challenges, and the strategies and tactics being employed.

I am going to briefly discuss only the key points of interest to me as a marketing advisor for contractors. If you’d like to see all of the findings, download the report:

The business development and marketing challenges were not exactly parallel, but they were quite similar, both being led by the long government procurement cycle. Also included were aligning objectives and the strategy for sales, marketing and BD, funding, maintaining profitability, measuring marketing ROI, and moving leads through the sales funnel.

One theme that got my attention was “differentiation beyond price,” which resonated across senior executives, BD/sales, marketing, and program management.  I’ve written about this often and worked with several companies and consultants on this issue.

Hinge Marketing provides a great framework for differentiation -
While it was written for professional services firms, it can work for product firms as well.

When it came it marketing activity effectiveness, the top issues were thought leadership materials, speaking at larger events, opportunity tracking databases and hosting your own events. Top activities associated with “win rate” were thought leadership materials, content marketing, SEO marketing, social media marketing, speaking at smaller events and PR/media pitching.

When you combine differentiation, thought leadership materials, content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, speaking at events and PR, you are talking about building a subject matter expert platform.

This is an area that I have researched thoroughly and about which I have written extensively. I also advise companies and individuals on the process of developing a subject matter expert platform, integrating the differentiation, content marketing, speaking, social media engagement and more to build a credible presence in a defined market niche.

For smaller businesses, building a subject matter expert platform is key to growth in the government market. Most large contractors already leverage subject matter experts, though some are more successful than others.

A sustained effort is required for generating content of value to a well-defined audience. Continous engagement via social platforms like LinkedIn is another key to making this work. This helps sustain your visibility to a defined audience. Content that is off the mark, content of the “me too” variety, or content that is simply inaccurate negates any gains you might have made.

Competing on price alone is death by a thousand cuts. When you understand what you do well, knowing which agencies need those skills, how they acquire those services, and you know who the players are, then you have a framework to build out the differentiation, content and thought leadership materials, and leveraging social media to find and engage buyers and influencers.

Companies and consultants that establish legitimate subject matter expert credentials win more business. It is not an easy process and all that attempt it do not achieve the same recognition.

While many claim thought leadership and subject matter expertise, few have developed the actual skills, the sustained effort or the track record to substantiate the claim. >

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Top GovCon Marketers to Convene in Potomac MD July 21

THIS EVENT IS POSTPONED UNTIL DECEMBER. If you'd like to be notified of when the date is selected, send an email to  & I will put you on the "First Alert" list.
Thank you- Mark Amtower

The Federal Business Council has partnered with Mark Amtower’s Government Market Master program to re-launch Federal Channels.

The 2016 theme is Government Marketing Best Practices 2020. 2020 references vision: looking backward, looking at the present, and trying to understand the future - all to determine what works best now.

In the early 2000s Federal Channels toured multiple cities around the US providing actionable information about sales, marketing and business development in the public sector.

The re-launch of Federal Channels will focus on the marketing side of doing business with the government and will feature several leading experts, among them Mark Amtower (Amtower & Company), Lou Anne Brossman (Government Marketing University), Carl Dickson (, Lee Frederiksen (Hinge Marketing), Mark Meudt (GDIT), David Powell (FBC), Allan Rubin (immixGroup) and many others.

Workshops will cover the latest market research pertaining to marketing to the government, differentiation, the new rules of B2G social media, customer engagement, content marketing, marketing your MAC (multiple award contract) and Q&A with the experts.Federal Business Council

Federal Channels convenes at 8:00am at the Bolger Center in Potomac, Maryland. The Bolger Center features 431 guest rooms on a lush campus, with plenty of free parking.

ATTEND Federal Channels- Government Marketing Best Practices 2020

To register:

For information on the Bolger Center (location, directions, rooms): 

For more information, including sponsorships, contact 

David Powell, Federal Business Council,


Mark Amtower, Amtower & Company,

Friday, May 6, 2016

July 21- Save the Date! Federal Channels- Government Marketing Best Practices 2020

Join us July 21 for Federal Channels: Government Marketing Best Practices 2020.

Federal Channels theme for 2016: Government Marketing Best Practices 2020: 2020 is your eyesight, viewing the market clearly for what works at present. As we all know, 2020 hindsight is always dead-on, but we use hindsight to what old tactics remain valuable and to see how they have morphed over time. Finally, we are looking forward to the year 2020- when none of us really knows what marketing will look like!
Government Marketing Best Practices was the first book to address marketing to the government as a discipline. The book was born out a seminar of the same name, which is still the premier Amtower & Company workshop and a cornerstone for the Government Market Master Continuing professional Education program.
The new book version of Government Marketing Best Practices 2020 will be provided to all attenders of Federal Channels.

The conference is at the Bolger Conference Center in Potomac, Maryland- see below for details.

Our Board of Advisors has helped create a strong program.

Mark Amtower
Amtower & Company

Lou Anne Brossman
Founder, Government Marketing University

Mark Meudt
VP, Communications, GDIT

David Powell
COO, Federal Business Council

Allan Rubin
VP Marketing, immixGroup

Kerry Simon Rea
President, GovEvents

We will have great speakers from the front lines of the government market, great networking and exhibits and tactics and strategies you can use immediately.

Current sponsors include

Federal News Radio

Government Market Master
Continuing Professional Education

Government Marketing University


Carl Dickson's PropLibrary

Register in May for the "early bird" investment of $245;

$295 starting June 1.

Register today!

Limited sponsorships and exhibit opportunities available.  

Agenda (subject to change)

8:00 - 8:50 AM:  Registration, networking, continental breakfast

8:50 - 9:00 AM: Introduction

9:00 - 10:00 AM: What is driving your market?

Where do you fit?  What pain points are driving decision making within your intended government market?    Understanding the nuances driving decisions affecting your products.  This session will present current trends research and a methodology you can use to analyze key factors within the federal market for your products.

10:00 - 10:15 AM: Refreshment break, exhibits, networking

10:15 - 11:15 AM: Differentiate or Die
This session will focus on separating yourself, your company and your product from the extremely "noisy" federal marketplace.  By effectively differentiating, you gain greater visibility and improve positioning with intended customers.

11:15 AM- 12:15 PM: The New Rules of B2G Social Media Marketing
Social media continues to evolve as a tool for sellers and marketers.  Using it effectively requires awareness of the changes and the “New Rules” in that determine success.  This session will provide an overview of the current landscape for using social media tools for Business-to-Government marketing, and will provide tools for immediate use.

12:15- 1:00 PM - Lunch, exhibits, networking

1:00- 2:00 PM - Engaging Your Customer - F2F & Online
The government is a relationship
driven market.  People buy from people they know, people they like and people they trust.  Methodologies for engagement, connecting with the federal customer in a meaningful way, will be presented.  Practical tools for implementation will be provided.

2:00-2:15 PM: Refreshment break, exhibits, networking

2:15-3:15 PM: Marketing Your MAC (Multiple Award Contract)
You’ve been awarded a GWAC, IDIQ, GSA Schedule or some other contract vehicle.  Now what?  This session will cover practical tools you can use immediately to drive business to, and through, your contract.

3:15-4:15 PM: Wrap-up Panel: Q&A 

Don't wait- register now!

Our Venue: The Bolger Conference Center is a full service conference center and hotel in Potomac Maryland, convenient to Virginia, Washington DC and the Maryland suburbs.

Guest rooms are available for those attending from out of town.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Government Market Master workshops: February-July, 2016

The Government Market Master program offers six workshops designed to help you become a true master at marketing to the government. Each session is offered at least once each quarter in Columbia Maryland, with occasional sessions in Tysons Corner at the Centre Law training facility. 

Those completing of all six workshops are awarded a Government Market Master certification

All workshops are led by the "Godfather" of government marketing, Mark Amtower. Amtower is the author of Government Marketing Best Practices (Government Market Press, 2005), Selling to the Government (John Wiley & Sons, 2011), host of Amtower Off Center on Federal News Radio (1500AM and www.FederalNewsRadio.,com ), columnist at  and consultant to many leading government contractors, large and small.

Feb 4, 2016, 1:00 -5:00pm: B
uilding the Thought Leader/SME Platform

Feb 18, 1:00-5:00pm: B2G Market Research 101

March 3, 2016, 1:00-5:00pm: Mastering PR and Company Promotion

March 17, 1:00-5:00pm: B2G Content Marketing Boot Camp

March 23, 8:30am - 12:30pm: Linkedin for GovCon- TYSONS CORNER

Thurs April 21, 8am-noon: Government Marketing Best Practices

April 28, 8:30am - 12:30pm:  B2G Content Marketing Boot Camp - TYSONS CORNER 

Thurs May 12,  8am-noon: Building the Thought Leader/Subject Matter Expert Platform;ch=

Thurs June 16, 8am-noon: B2G Content Marketing Boot Camp 

July 11, 8:30am - 12:30pm LinkedIn for GovCon - McLean VA 

Call or email with any questions.  301 854 9493