4 minutes

Winning Marketing Tips for the SLG Market

How to climb the mountain of securing state and local funding

June 28, 2022

Let’s be honest, vying for state and local funding can be exhausting. When you’re at the foot of this mountain, how do you know where to start, what tools you need, the best path to take, and how to make it to the top? GovExec 360’s state and local leadership in sales and marketing intelligence can be your guide.

GovExec 360 presented a webinar on June 21 to share insights on how to win funding to meet your mission and help your community. GovExec Chief Revenue Officer Connie Sayers hosted Troy Schneider, GovExec 360 President, and Hilery Sirpis, Vice President and Group Publisher of SLED and Route Fifty, to break down their winning tips, which include:

  • The importance of starting early
  • Tactics for standing out
  • How to effectively target a large market with tremendous potential

Deadlines shouldn’t dictate strategy.

Sirpis recommended that “always-on” marketing is the best approach. If you wait around at the foot of the mountain for someone to open the deadline, you’ll be jostling for a position on the overcrowded trail. However, if you’re already at the top when the deadline opens, you’ll stand miles above the competition. The Leading Brands study has proven that the best path to success is moving away from the use-it-or-lose-it strategy and migrating to marketing all the time. This will keep your message and goals at the forefront, which Sayers and Sirpis elaborate on in the webinar. Schneider suggested laying the groundwork for next fiscal year in advance. This way, you can forge partnerships with key government stakeholders, get in early, and solidify funding. In the webinar, Schneider discussed how qualitative context can help “get ahead and anticipate solicitation.” There has been a 53% increase in organizations vying for contracts, but a 14% decrease in awards. Sirpis said this stat is the excuse you need to focus on marketing and getting in the door before the RFP. In the state and local market, 90% of sales go to the first company at the table.

Understand the focus of government spending.

We are in an unprecedented time with the amount of funding provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). There’s more money out there than ever, but less people winning bids ($3.2 trillion spent annually). IIJA is valued at $1.2 trillion, bringing $550 billion in new spending. IIJA’s focus is on existing programs. In future spending, Schneider shared that the government has shifted from specific products to broader solutions. Sirpis and Schneider divulged insights on what these focuses are, what is always on (like cybersecurity), and specific solutions that would be competitive in current and future markets. When you understand what the government is prioritizing, you can find ways to accomplish your goals within that scope. 

Identify the best strategy for opportunities.

With so much information, deciding what trail to take and what tools to use to get you to the top can be overwhelming. For experts like Sirpis, it’s familiar ground, and she’s ready to guide you through it. Sirpis said it’s up to marketers to identify opportunities most important to what they are selling. She said the key is having access to data and insights specific to SLG, like The Atlas, which can help narrow the field. Sayers offered that GovExec has the ability to find what has worked for organizations similar to your own in order to replicate success. For example, The Atlas MarketEdge compiles this information in one easily accessible database so that you can retrieve it quickly instead of scouring data for hours. Sirpis added that MarketEdge sends alerts based on opportunities and locations, is user-friendly, and is focused on local government. “It makes you smarter, it makes your sales team smarter, and it makes you as a marketer smarter.” said Sirpis. 

Understand what doesn’t work.

Sometimes building a strategy means knowing what to avoid. For every epic win on the climb, there is an epic failure. Schneider stressed the importance of not just relying on past acquisitions but looking to the future of what the government is trying to solve. He added that you shouldn’t make your focus too narrow. This involves persona-based marketing and tailoring your plans accordingly, which requires much more than looking at job titles as Schneider discussed in the webinar. Schneider and Sirpis said SLG-specific content like GCN and Route Fifty are great resources as they cover what is and isn’t working in state and local government. Additionally, they share case studies and what is coming down the pike to help the diffuse market feel like a smaller community.

Marketing tactics that move the dial.

Sipris outlined her three-pronged approach during the webinar. She focused on the ABM approach which is more targeted and the key to winning. Sirpis outlined many tactics, including social lookalikes. “We can help you identify who we reach, and we reach a ton,” Sirpis said. “Social lookalikes help you reach beyond that, and beyond the people you might not know, who look like the people you’re selling to.” Schneider shared the importance of events, both in-person and virtual, as a marketing tactic. They provide leads, thought leader and branding opportunities, and a learning opportunity to hear from the public sector about their problems. Events, in conjunction with the tactics Sirpis shared, and paired with tools like The Atlas can inform other marketing decisions. Sayers added that Market Connections is an excellent resource that connects intent data to your solution to tell you “How to best play to win.”

Have a plan when you get in the room.

You made it to the top of the mountain, now where do you plant your flag? It’s crucial to have a plan before you walk into the meeting. Sirpis said public officials are swamped but want to work with the private sector. “It comes down to being the smartest person in the room,” she added. She shared many insights on this topic, including understanding how to sell your solution. Sirpis’ plan for success is, “Get in. Be specific. Focus on community.” The Atlas has a tool that shows articles specific to location so that you can understand the problems they are looking to address. Knowing what they are looking for before you get in the room can help tune your solution to their needs.

How GovExec can help.

GovExec has the sales and marketing intelligence to help you climb the mountain. Don’t be one of the 14% left at the bottom. Without our platform of resources, the journey is much harder. Let us help. For more information and to see how GovExec can help your organization, watch the webinar and contact Hilery Sirpis at hsirpis@govexec.com

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