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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Small Business Marketing To The Federal Government

Once my company was finally on the GSA MOBIS Schedule, the next step was marketing.

First, we needed a mailing list. The marketing company I hired gave me a list of 100's of government contracts to sift through to identify: (1) the contracts relevant to my services, (2) the government agencies that purchased those services; and (3) the names and phone numbers of the purchasing agents for those agencies.

My next task was to create a marketing letter that introduced my company. The first paragraph described my company and explained thatwe were interested in doing business with the agency.

It briefly described our services in general terms and then requested the recipient to please add our business name to their agency's mailing list to receive bid and non-bid opportunities under Federal Supply Categories. These were listed by schedule and sin number in MOBIS as well as by NAICS codes.

It went on to say:"We are registered with CCR/ORCA/SAM/ and Pro-Net. We are interested in both small and large purchase opportunities. Please send your agency's Fiscal Year 2014 forecast or Long Range Acquisition Plan. We understand that this information may be viewed online; however, we would prefer to keep a hard copy for our reference.

In addition, please send any hard copy publications you may have about doing business with your agency. Also, please forward the telephone number, address and email address for any buyers or contracting officials who may have the need for our services."

The letter concluded with the statement that I would follow up with the recipient within two weeks, provided contact information if there were any questions, and thanked the recipient for "your time and assistance in this matter."

Anyone who opened the letter and did not respond by asking to be removed from the mailing list was considered fair game. There were 90 in that list, and not one of them replied with any of the information I had requested.

I was tasked with calling each of them. Which I did. Yes, the person who had shied away from even doing warm calling for the past twenty-five years actually made all of these cold calls. Most people were very gracious. Each one explained that the best way to get work with their agency was to watch federal postings and respond to the Requests for Proposals.

So that is what I have done. I have spent hours responding to requests for proposals with absolutely no success. This has included estimating total travel costs without knowing when the training would occur and how that would affect transportation and lodging.

I have had absolutely no success. Why? The answer is very simple. I'll tell you in my article: A GSA Schedule Cautionary Tale.

Deborah Spring Laurel is the President of Laurel and Associates, Ltd., a certified woman-owned small business that builds and strengthens managerial, employee development and technical skills through the design and delivery of participatory classroom training on a national and international basis. If you would like your participants to leave training with practical skills that they can use immediately, or you would like your trainers to facilitate quality programs that effectively achieve their learning goals, contact Deborah at http://www.laurelandassociates.com or contact Deborah directly at (608) 255-2010 or dlaurel@laurelandassociates.com. To see over 540 training tips, go to her blog at http://laurelandassociates.blogspot.com.

By Deborah Laurel

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