In an era of federal budget cuts coupled with lowest price, technically acceptable (LPTA) procurements, contractors say the top action their firm is taking to cope in today’s environment is being more selective about projects they bid on. This is just one result from Market Connections 2016 Federal Government Contractor Study.
Another finding from the study is that to remain competitive, large businesses are significantly more likely to participate in a merger, acquisition or divestiture, or to close facilities. And 40 percent indicate looking at markets outside of government.
Whether deciding on which contracts to bid on, how to strategically position a division resulting from a merger or acquisition, or which markets to enter, government contractors need to know what messages to deliver around these choices. Division brand research can help.
The Importance of Division Brand Research
It is true that in today’s complex federal marketplace, understanding how your customers perceive your brand as a whole — and your brand value — is an important component of developing strong customer relationships. Many of our clients assume at first that the only brand research they need is at the corporate level. Yet we have found there also is tremendous benefit in doing brand research at the division or the business-unit level.
The reason is that the products and services you talk about as an overall corporation might be very different than what your divisions or business units are going after on those strategic must-win contracts. They may also be different after a merger or acquisition, or in new markets.
For example, one of our clients primarily works in the defense market, and their corporate brand reflects that. But they have a division that focuses on systems integration. They found, through research, that they needed to talk about different products and services, different past performance, and different aspects of the company when bidding on those particular contracts. This is because they’re comparing themselves to different competitors than in the defense market, and the customers have different goals and needs. Conducting brand research at that business-unit or division level enables them to position and message against the right competitors, and it helps them understand the real needs, requirements and expectations of their buyers. It also helps them develop the right win themes so they can keep those must-retain contracts and succeed with must-win opportunities.
Brand research at the division or business-unit level is similar to corporate brand research. The difference is that it is laser focused on a subset of the overall business. It will answer questions such as:
- Is what your division offers understood and accepted in the marketplace?
- What is your reputation among key targets, and has this changed over time (or with the merger/acquisition)?
- Is the market aware of the capabilities and service/products you offer?
- For the products and services this division offers, which qualities or characteristics are important to your customers?
- How are you perceived relative to your competitors regarding specific qualities such as technical expertise or thought leadership?
- Are you in the customer’s consideration set for specific capabilities or service/product offerings?
Without a current and fact-based understanding of brand perceptions in the market, the risk of delivering a message that is not tailored to the specific audience is higher. Brand research minimizes that risk and helps you leverage all that your divisions offer.