Let’s assume you have mapped out the products you are going to sell to the government. And let’s assume you have defined how you are going sell to the government (e.g., the type of contracts, or through open market sales). How do you market to the largest buyer in the world? Where do you start?
The first thing to do is to make certain your company website is “government-friendly.” A specific click-through section of your site clearly labeled “Government” is a good starting place.
Inside this area you begin by clearly stating your value proposition(s) in ways that address the public sector. Remember, some of what motivates the public sector is different than what motivates a typical business client. There is no profit motive in the public sector – it is mission fulfillment or service to the citizen. Other factors, especially for selling products, may be the same: how fast can you deliver it; what is your customer service policy, etc?
The Open Market B2G Website
If you sell on the open market (no contracts) you will be targeting the SmartPay (government credit card) business, and focusing on orders under $3,000. Downloading the SmartPay logo from the GSA website to put in your “government” section is always a good idea. Go to www.GSA.gov/smartpay.
As a product vendor it is good to emphasize that you are competitively priced, you’re your product quality is good, and that you can deliver quickly. If you have good customer service, highlight this.
One product site that does this well is Lab Safety (www.lss.com). Lab Safety is a vendor of lab and industrial safety products. Scroll to the bottom of the home page to the “Resource Center” and click on “Government.” The government page at Lab Safety starts with “SmartPay proudly welcomed here” with the credit card logo. This is followed by other differentiators that Lab Safety delivers on:
- real people answer the phone
- prices are guaranteed for a year
- fast shipping inside the continental US, and
- the “store” (website) is open 24/7/365
After that Lab Safety offers the catalog, introduces both the tech support and technical experts, and provides web links and “EZFacts”. The EZFacts are really cool. What lab Safety has done is cross reference the Code of Federal Regulations with selected product areas to help the government procurement officer justify the purchase.
Lab Safety sells exclusively on the open market. I do not know what their government sales are, but what they have done with the government section of the website is excellent.
The GSA B2G Website
If you have opted to obtain a GSA Schedule contract, a good site to emulate would be ATD-American (www.atdamerican.com). ATD is an established vendor of office furniture to commercial, institutional and government accounts. The website has both "Federal Government" as well as "Local & State Government" options in its main navigation system.
The ATD home page offers an array of popular office furniture, some clearly labeled “Best Sellers” down the center column. On the left side of the home page is a newsletter sign-up (prominent at the top left), “Search” box, product categories, company information, “refer a friend” box, as well as “Five reasons to buy from ATD,” and a “free design services” offer.
In the right side column on the home page is a featured product, top ten best sellers, GSA contract information (with the ATD 100% Exceptional vendor rating), a box to send questions, a place to request the catalog, information on nationwide installation services, and more.
When you click through to the GSA page, ATD restates the 100% Exceptional vendor rating awarded by GSA, lists the major furniture suppliers they carry, along with the contract number for easy ordering.
Treat the Government as its Own Market
Both Lab Safety and ATD treat government buyers as a separate market. This indicates to the potential buyer that they are dealing with an experienced government vendor. Both vendors use key industry phrases for the products throughout the web site, the same industry terms people would be searching on. They also both reference SmartPay, which may be used by government buyers as a search term.
Without a strong website for government product buyers, your B2G selling efforts may go nowhere. By customizing your home page to appeal specifically to government buyers, you take a foundational first step in penetrating the B2G market.
Eager for more? Check out Mark's other articles below for more great Business-to-Government (B2G) related information and tips: