Our nation is facing unprecedented challenges—the Covid-19 pandemic, global climate change, social unrest, and cyber terrorism. Additionally, we are facing new workforce dynamics, new societal patterns, the repopulation of cities, and growth in the broadband digital divide.
The reality is that public officials, administrators, and defense professionals have never been more challenged, more second guessed, and more essential than right now.
Their leadership has never been more vital. As a country, we need new solutions, we need better answers, we need innovation, and we need empowered people who can pursue their missions. All of us are part of a community that gets up every day, seeking to provide those answers. That is why, despite all of the challenges, our GovExec teams look at 2022 and are encouraged by the possibilities.
The Hero-Making Business
What would it look like to redefine all of our business goals? What if we actually changed the business mission of every contractor, supplier, technology provider, integrator, consultant—and even us here at GovExec? I truly believe we are all in just one business—the hero-making business.
We are at a moment that requires great feats of imagination. The global pandemic has challenged every agency and program at every level of government—globally. We are in a moment where we are reimagining how work gets done—reimagining how programs get delivered, and reimagining the role of government itself.
We are seeing a rapid modernization of government that we have not seen in a generation. And as we look at the shifting needs of government, contractors will need to reimagine how they serve their customers. It will mean a paradigm shift for how you go to market. And when we say go to market, we mean how you identify opportunities, engage key prospects, and win more business. All of this will require a paradigm shift.
Empowering Agents of Change
We can provide the ability to see around corners with data-derived insights. We can inspire them to approach problems with an innovative mindset. We can provide them with tools to enable speed and agility, so they can solve small problems before they become big problems. We can provide them with modern solutions that create efficiency and scale.
They are proving to anyone paying attention that innovation should be embraced and championed.
Our ecosystem creates heroes out of government leaders and their staff because we bring them technology as a powerful catalyst of performance, efficiency, and resilience. With all of us supporting, government agencies can now be confident in accelerating their modernization plans.
So, what does this mean for us? And by us, I mean our ecosystem contractors, vendors, and partners that provide solutions to local, state, and federal organizations. It means that our marketing, business development, and sales teams need a new mindset, a new approach to connecting the dots. These massive forces are changing the way federal, state, and local agencies do business. It is on us to evolve with them.
Here are three key trends that will drive how contractors go to market in this new world.
Trend #1: The Nature of Work Has Permanently Changed
We can’t overstate the changes we’ve seen in the past year. Think about your own day. Are you on an endless stream of video meetings? Has your workplace returned to normal? For government decision makers, we have seen the same shift.
Instead of attending two to four physical events a year, your customers might attend six virtual events and countless webinars. Instead of reading ten white papers, they might watch a video briefing every week, and instead of going to black tie dinners, they might just get inducted into a “virtual hall of fame.”
We are just at the beginning of the virtual meeting evolution. Soon, we will see Zoom and Microsoft introduce virtual reality tools into the technology. It will go far beyond virtual makeup and emoji high fives. Your colleagues may yearn for the days of ‘walking the halls’ of an agency. Tell them, soon, you will be walking the halls of the metaverse.
Trend #2: The Eroding Identity Landscape
In this digital world, it has become harder and harder to reach decision-makers. The data that drives so much communication and marketing is getting worse.
The internet always held a fundamental promise for marketers—to make it easier and more efficient to identify, target, and reach decision-makers. But for the past few years, the traditional tools marketers use have eroded.
There are fewer good sources of contact information. Third party cookies, which anchor so many marketing programs, are degrading in effectiveness. Additionally, many companies are playing catchup with outdated CRM technologies. These issues are being magnified by changes to the privacy law, driven by government scrutiny.
Overall, it has become very difficult to target government officials in their non-professional environments.
This puts tremendous pressure on sales and marketing. There is a rising need for good data and massive shifts in how content is consumed.
Trend #3: The Lack of Clarity Around Trade Shows
Trade shows were once the anchor of marketing to government. Celebrated from sales teams to the c-suite, the trade show budget was funded and prioritized as the tentpole of the marketing budget. And why not? Trade shows offer thousands of prospects, high brand visibility in a targeted environment, and the possibility of signing some of your biggest contracts of the year.
But with Covid-19, is anything certain? We can’t even meet inside, much less travel across the country and then meet inside! So what does this mean? It means that companies are moving beyond the trade show. They are looking for new ways to replace this in-person engagement with digital methods. Virtual events are just part of the equation. Better intelligence and more digital content are the immediate steps we see marketers taking here.
How Can Government Marketers Respond to These Trends?
Most, if not all of us are in the business of launching, sustaining, and nurturing products and services for government markets. We’ve just discussed the ways this landscape is changing in unprecedented ways.
How do you navigate this landscape? What do you need to do to win?
Here are three key actions that we see as critical for success in the new landscape.
Action #1: A Deep Commitment to Data Driven Sales & Marketing Decisions
Anyone can flood the market with content, and many of our clients are overwhelmed with content. But the companies that move the dial will use data and insights to target and segment. They will use research to build a deep understanding of their prospect and customer behaviors. In a market that is saturated with content and messaging, data, research, and insights are longer nice to have—they are table stakes to be in the game.
Action #2: Using New Content Formats that Break Through With the Government Customer
Creating market momentum is rooted in an ability to be perceived as credible, innovative, market-leading, and reliable. Government decision makers need to believe that you are essential to their success. Their mission will be advanced by their affiliation and investment in your solutions. At every point in the customer journey, you need to establish thought leadership, illustrate momentum, educate on complex solutions and products, and illustrate your strategic roadmaps. It comes down to rich, engaging, and entertaining content. This is the on-demand, Netflix, Spotify, YouTube generation your content has to rise above.
Action #3: The Alignment of Your Sales, Business Development, and Marketing Strategies
The head of sales and the head of marketing are co-owners of the revenue pipeline, jointly accountable for lead generation, business development, close rates, and upsell.
The highest performing companies do this by using data to ensure that the marketing automation programs are properly integrated with CRM, content nurturing, and customer success platforms.
Marketing is truly supporting the full client lifecycle. The impact of aligning your content, data, and BD people can be exponential.
To summarize, the most evolved sales and marketing teams realize that much of the buying cycle has migrated to digital platforms. The digitization of the buying cycle requires sales and marketing teams to strengthen their digital DNA and invest in new digital content, automated lead nurturing, and sales intelligence. Your teams need to be armed to compete in the new landscape.
The GovExec Solution
We want you to know that GovExec has committed millions of dollars to the modernization of our go-to-market offerings. Many of you are aware of the numerous acquisitions we have made over the past few months. We have made these acquisitions with one goal. We want to be the number one go-to-market partner for contractors in the government space.
Together, we are imagining and building a robust platform for you. GovExec now has the ability to target every step of the government buying process. Our products, solutions and services can be used with surgical precision for key program tactics or at massive scale for you to have your “own-the-market” moments. Let me illustrate how it works.
Clients now can use our Market Intelligence to determine which opportunities they are likely to win. GovTribe and The Atlas have built the engines to provide precisely this intelligence.
You can tap into our Opportunity Insights to target and segment the agencies, departments, and find the key individuals who will drive your growth.
Then, you can Educate and Connect with your core audiences. Bring your marketing and educational materials directly to the prospects through our web sites, and events. Build robust video libraries, embrace podcasts, interactive demos, and digital education.
And finally, Decision Influence. Utilize data and insights to augment your programs. Utilize intelligence targeting with lead scoring, content nurturing, and account-based marketing programs that influence key stages of the buyer's journey. Our proprietary behavioral data will help you determine what stories are resonating, and who is ready to hear more from your sales team
This isn’t the future. This is what GovExec can do today, and we are dedicated to expanding these services to fully support you as a strategic go-to-market partner. We view ourselves as an extension of your internal sales and marketing teams. Our growth only happens when you grow, so we are fully aligned in your success.
We are all in the hero making business. We should commit to making all of our customers successful in their respective mission. To do that, each of us need to adapt to the evolving modern go-to-market landscape. Sales, marketing, and business development are undergoing massive changes, and we must embrace data, insights, and digital approaches to evolve.