In Tough Times, Contractors Turn to Creative Marketing Campaigns

From The Washington Post Capital Business | August 30, 2014

In the best of times, selling to the government is not an easy task. In the worst of times, it’s even harder.

As federal budgets shrink and competition intensifies, contractors are battling it out not only for dollars, but also for the attention of their government customers.

That’s sparked a slew of creative marketing campaigns over the past couple of years, featuring virtual conferences, 3-D animation, apps, e-books and the increased use of social media. These are not necessarily groundbreaking ideas in the Internet age, but for the world of government contracting, they mark a shift from the old way of doing business.

The share of federal workers who didn’t go to a single trade show, conference or industry event has risen every year for the past four years, according to a study by Chantilly-based research firm Market Connections. Fifty-two percent of workers surveyed said they didn’t physically attend any events in 2013, up from 38 percent in 2011.

More than half of agencies said they were hosting fewer events in 2013 than the previous year, according to a separate poll conducted by Market Connections and Boscobel, a Silver Spring marketing company. The same poll found that 77 percent of agency respondents and 91 percent of industry respondents thought companies would need to become “more creative” in informing and educating government customers.

The way federal workers look for information and consume content is also changing how contractors market to them, experts said. For example, government buyers are just as dependent on their smartphones and tablets as other consumers, said Monica Mayk, marketing director at Market Connections. And while they still read print publications, those in government also seek information online, she said.

Essentially, procurement officers are just like regular shoppers. They like doing their own research online, whether it’s on a desktop or on phones and tablets.

“Contractors need to pay more attention to optimizing content for mobile and making sites responsive,” Mayk said.

Read the full article for more creative marketing efforts by government contractors.

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