Where do you Find Opportunities?

April 27, 2007 on 4:04 pm | In Marketing to the Government | Comments Off

One of the most common questions I am asked has to do with how to market to the government. It is important to understand that the government has some very stringent rules that make many normal commercial marketing activities illegal. For example you cannot buy government employees anything – even meals. You can give them advertising “trinkets” with the company name or logo of minimal value, but do not offer them sporting event tickets. People go to jail for that!

Marketing to the government is also different in the arena of “decision makers.” In traditional marketing classes you are always told to speak ONLY to the decision maker. If you are not talking to the person who can make the buying decision, you are told, you are just wasting everyone’s time. While that is good advice in the commercial arena, the decision maker in the government is a bit more complicated. In fact the checks and balances that surround our governmental systems create three separate decision makers that must be convinced that the sale should go forward. I describe this more fully in an article that appeared in Contract Managementmagazine in December 2006 entitled “Exactly who IS the Government Customer?” that you can read here. 

What I really wanted to talk about today was what you should do to locate opportunities. The key is to identify what you are selling and who in the government is buying what you are selling. There are three steps to the process, and a fourth if you want to stay on top of things!

First, you need to review the vast listing of NAICS codes. Those can be accessed at http://www.census.gov/epcd/naics02/. From this listing you can identify the codes that apply to the goods or services that you sell. Take these numbersto the Federal Business Opportunities website (often called FedBizOpps) at http://vsearch2.fbo.gov/servlet/SearchServlet where you can now enter those NAICS codes and conduct a search for all currently open solicitations for those goods or services. Once you have identified the opportunities you need to make a bid/no-bid decision based on whether your company could make a credible bid or proposal for what is being sought by the government. If so, then put your bid or proposal together and submit!

Oh, and that optional fourth step? Go to this site http://www2.fbo.gov/servlet/VendorReg and select the product codes that match your NAICS codes. This signs you up to receive email notices on a daily basis of EVERY opportunity that has been posted for those product codes.

Yes, this all sounds simple, and in some respects it is. That doesn’t mean that it is easy! We’ll talk more about what comes before and after these steps, as well explain these steps in more detail in later posts, but for now I hope this helps get you started in finding opportunities to sell what you have to the government!

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