There are certain things that many b-to-g firms still don’t get. First and foremost is that even when marketing to the Federal government, most of your money need not be spent here in Washington, DC, focusing on the hub city of the Federal money machine.
Fact: there are 26 other cities with more than 20,000 Federal employees. So if you are considering spending a major portion of your budget on a DC-based trade show which will eat a major portion of your budget, make certain that a proportionate percentage of your prospect audience will be attending. And then ensure that a significant portion of these will come to your booth.
If your idea is to prospect for new business, consider an intelligent, ongoing prospecting program. The idea is to gain some name recognition, then get some business, right?
The money spent on an average trade show booth could fund a modest, year long, direct marketing program designed to reach the broadest possible audience (defined by you).
1) Rent (for multiple use) a list of the key people you are trying to reach. Some list owners will license data for unlimited use for a period of time. Send your promotions to these people, but vary the promotion. If you have a catalog, send it occasionally, not monthly. Find other packages (newsletter, post card, #10 with special offer) to send with pertinent information.
2) Find other ways to reach your core audience. If you sell products, consider testing card decks. Simon Direct mails a deck (GovernmentExpress) to 50,000 Federal credit card holders 3 times each year (732-651-72222, ext 11). They will also be producing a small magalog promoting web sites to 75,000 Federal buyers. Both methods are inexpensive and worth testing.
3) Drive buyers to your web site, but only if your site is easy to use, navigate & buy from. Encourage visitors to register so you can send them opt-in email updates on your site. Do not abuse or over-use the email, or you may get an undesired result.
4) Keep your message simple and to the point: these people receive a fair amount of snail mail and email, so avoid verbosity (see Off-White #5: WPI).
5) We have seen some success for b-to-g catalogers who poly-bag their catalogs into publications that serve their target market. This is especially effective for military base penetration (see FAQs, bottom of home page).
When prospecting for new business, the idea is to cast the widest possible net while staying within budget. While Washington, DC is the center of the Federal government, purchasing for the government is truly de-centralized, making it critical for you to get the word out to all potential buyers.
Copyright 2000, Amtower & Company