Marketers Shifting Tactics to Reach the Federal Buyer

Business to government marketers, especially those selling IT services, are facing a tougher future.  The federal government has been cutting governmentagencyback under the sequestration initiative and some enterprises may find it difficult to get themselves invited to bid on new contracts. This state of affairs is leading IT marketers to change their strategy according the Selling to Uncle Sam: 2013 Federal Marketing Investment Study released by GovMark Council.

This study focused on larger enterprises, those that pull in $519 million a year in federal IT revenue and spend $1.17 million in marketing every year in order to secure these contracts. Because of the new austerity attitude in Washington, D.C., marketing professionals say some of their toughest challenges will be trying to find the government folks who make purchase decisions. This is especially true as fewer industry trade shows are being held. In previous years, about 30% of the marketing budget went to government or military trade shows. These events served as meet-​and-​greet opportunities between federal procurement officials and contractors.

This year, most marketers are spending only 21% of their budgets on trade shows. These enterprises will allocate other parts of their marketing budget as follows:

  • Webinars or other online events (9% — up from 7%)
  • Custom events (14%)
  • Email marketing 7%
  • Social media (7% — up from 5%)
  • Online video – especially YouTube 5%
  • Direct mail 2%
  • Peer to Peer exchange 4%
  • Research/​thought leadership 6%
  • Radio 2%
  • Mobile 1%
  • Print 2%

About 9% of the BtoG marketing budget for IT contractors will go to online formats. The contractors believe that some of the most effective properties for marketing expenditures (either online or print) are government-​related publications like FCW 71% and GCN 56%.

It appears to be anything but businesses as usual when dealing with the government this year. Look for contractors to spend more time and money on events and formats where they can make contact with officials who have the power to award contracts. If you compete in this sector, have you shifted more of your marketing budget into webinars and custom events targeting these buyers?

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.