Many large companies work in both the commercial and government sectors. However, when large companies do business with the government, they often unintentionally overlook whether the focus of their brand’s message resonates with the government sector.
While marketing campaigns and branding may be working very successfully with target commercial markets, the same messaging and campaigns may fall short of achieving the goal of raising awareness and perceptions of the company within the target government market, because government decision-makers’ needs, priorities and expectations can vary widely from what motivates commercial buyers.
Brand and perception studies, or Attitude, Awareness and Usage (AAU) research, can provide government contractors invaluable insights into how they are perceived in the government marketplace, revealing gaps in market understanding and acceptance of your brand. This can make a significant difference in everything from general market positioning to win themes in specific bids and proposals. Conducting this type of research in the government market will give government business units market-validated information to share with corporate marketing teams to refine messaging and campaigns specifically for the government market.
Brand and perception research will answer questions such as:
- Is your brand understood and accepted in the marketplace?
- What is your reputation among key targets, and has this changed over time?
- Is the market aware of the capabilities and service/products you offer?
- Which firm qualities or characteristics are important to your customers?
- How are you perceived relative to your competitors regarding specific firm qualities such as technical expertise or being a thought leader?
- Are you in the customer’s consideration set for specific capabilities or service/product offerings?
Message testing will evaluate the appeal, credibility, relevance and impact of communications with your target government audience. Testing can include messaging in advertising, on websites and in promotional materials; logos and taglines; and even public relations and though leadership themes. The research results will provide clear direction on any communications challenges and how to overcome any gaps in appeal, relevance and understanding.
Custom research will not only inform effective marketing campaigns and messaging; it will provide clear guidance for overcoming communications challenges and appeal with your target government audience.It can also help to identify practical channels for advertising, media relations, webinars and content marketing, to name a few.
Market Connections has conducted many brand studies that have helped contractors discover brewing perception issues, ways to improve their reputations and recommendations for connecting more effectively with the government market.
Recently, Market Connections completed a large AAU study for a technology government contractor of the civilian, defense, and security market segments. One surprise finding was that the market – customers and prospects across all agency types – did not view the company as a technology expert. This led to follow-on focus groups to delve deeper into how a technology expert is defined and the most effective means of communicating this desired position to the marketplace. The client used the findings to fine-tune their marketing messages and campaigns. A follow-up tracking study identified higher awareness and increased recognition of the client’s technical expertise.
Don’t assume that messaging, positioning and branding that works successfully in commercial sectors will also resonate with your government targets. This can negatively impact your reputation and perceptions in the government market. With brand research, you can arm both your government and corporate marketing teams with the tools they need to successfully message and position your company for maximum impact and opportunity in the government market.