The unique nature of marketing to public sector agencies and the vendors that support them can be daunting. After all, that audience has its own language, countless acronyms and a calendar all its own.
Learning to speak any new language takes time and practice. Taking the time to gain a better understanding of the public sector ecosystem will ensure that you can effectively “talk the talk”; once you can do that, you can confidently demonstrate your industry knowledge and strategic capabilities that will help your customers successfully “walk the walk.”
Not Your Average Vertical
It is critical to distinguish right off the bat that the public sector is not merely just one overarching catch-all vertical, comparatively adjacent to the commercial sector. Beyond having its own language and calendar, the public sector has unique rules, contracts and sales cycles, all of which depend upon to whom you are marketing, including:
- The federal government, either within the Department of Defense (DOD) or as part of a Federal-Civilian agency (Fed-Civ)
- A state or local government agency
- Or an educational institution, ranging from K-12 all the way through higher education.
In order to successfully support a government agency or an organization that is selling to the public sector, you must be able to effectively demonstrate your knowledge of the ecosystem and build strategic programs that tie into the top issues facing public sector organizations.
It’s All About the Mission
In today’s public sector landscape, many of the priority concerns and areas of interest revolve around the orbit of federal IT and emerging technologies, including IT modernization, security transformation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, cybersecurity strategy, remote workforce, cloud adoption, and so much more.
It is, of course, critical to prioritize the core competencies of an agency or organization in the development of any marketing communications strategy. What leads to a successful marketing campaign is aligning those primary focus areas with the agency’s overarching mission and developing tangible key performance indicators (KPIs) that support that mission.
Understanding the mission is the key to getting on the same page with any public sector prospect, as is adapting your approach based on that understanding. Asking the right questions will make all the difference in how you choose to address the challenges they are facing.
What does success look like to you? How does this serve the broader mission?
Asking these types of questions upfront helps you build targeted, evocative communications campaigns that align with the mission-critical outcomes public sector organizations demand, while instilling trust and credibility with the stakeholders you need to influence.
Timing is Everything
When it comes to implementing a marketing campaign, timing is everything. And in the public sector realm, time itself works a bit differently. While privatized businesses and organizations may operate and plan around a traditional 12-month calendar year (January to December), government agencies are held to a Fiscal Year (FY). The start and end date of the FY vary between the federal government, as well as state and local governments.
Understanding the cadence of the fiscal year and its impact on sales cycles will best inform how and when to time your marketing initiatives.
Like coming to grasp any new language, it takes practice and repetition. By putting in the work to traverse the public sector ecosystem and get to know its organizational structure, you can more effectively and efficiently develop strategic, integrated campaigns that deliver mission-focused results.
Taking initial stock of your comprehension of these foundational elements will allow you to smoothly navigate the public sector and successfully market to government agencies and the contracting partners selling to them.
To learn more, including how W2 Communications can best support your integrated marketing communications initiatives for public sector, contact us today.