From the Desk of Aaron Heffron, President, Market Connections, Inc.
As we fully engage into our 2021 marketing and sales plans, it’s important to know, “are we exploring or expanding?” As we have written about in the past, many areas in the public sector market have reached a certain level of maturity. Many companies now find themselves firmly entrenched in delivering services and products to federal, state, or local agencies. These contracts—years in the making and with returns on investment continuing for the next 3-5 years—can provide a sense of security for any business. As a marketer, at this point, what is your next step? Will you be an explorer or an expander?
Explorers that we read about in textbooks or learn through stories told across generations are often driven by the need to see places they’ve never seen and find things that have never been found. In business this is reflected in companies that develop new products and reach out to markets they have never touched before. New markets are higher risk, but the potential rewards are great.
Expanders are people, and companies, who deepen their roots and influence in their local communities, or grow their relationships with their current customers. These relationships secure businesses for the long term and create new connections among the same people, establishing bonds that are harder to break.
As a marketer supporting sales, product and operation, the information you need to make a sound decision is different when you support an explorer versus an expander.
Recent polling of the federal workforce highlights some of the challenges facing markets, who must develop the messaging and channel to best connect with current and potential customers.
- When seven out of ten federal workers report that they are likely to be working outside of normal business hours because of COVID and telework issues [check out our webinar] you have an opportunity to expand your connection with you customers by supporting them wherever and whenever they need it.
- The same number of federal buyers trust the information [see report] from vendors as those who distrust them – a foreboding landscape for any marketing and collateral material. What’s your plan to build trust as you explore?
- Nearly 20% of federal workers are questioning whether they will ever attend large trade shows and events again. How can you expand your relationships with individuals you can’t meet face-to-face in the near future, or ever?
- With commute times dropping as individuals look to a future of blended remote and in person work, how can you support your explorers and make your company known in other ways to those markets that have never heard of you?
Whether your goal is expansion, exploration, or a little of both, investing in data and information on your current or potential customers can help you leverage your limited budget for maximum impact. You would never set out on a new adventure without a map or detailed recognizance. (Remember that time you “thought” that was the right turn?) Your sales teams would never walk into a customer meeting with the presumption they always know what the customer needs. We live in an information age. An investment in information is worthwhile for those boldly going forth into new territories or those treading carefully in familiar territory.