The state and local government is sometimes an overlooked sector for marketers, but opportunity abounds if you know where to look, how to connect, and have the tools to get the job done. That’s why GovExec’s latest innovation for 2023 is the SLG Membership. To learn more about the state and local market potential, our team spoke with Hilery Sirpis, Senior Vice President and Group Publisher of SLED and Route Fifty.
Can you speak to the impact and potential of this sector? Why should companies be looking to partner with state and local governments?
Sirpis: With all the increased funding that state and local governments are getting from the federal government through IIJA, ARPA, the CHIPS Act, and more, they have eclipsed the federal government in budgets and spending. Federal spending is $1.8 trillion (excluding defense), while state and local spending is $3.2 trillion and growing. And while doing business with state and local governments can seem overwhelming because of the vast number of opportunities, it’s often an easier place to start for companies wanting to do business with the government.
Although there are concerns over the economy, government has never been more essential. Government spending increases during times of uncertainty as seen over these past few years. They will always be looking for solutions to problems, which brings market stability in an otherwise unstable economy. Investing in government is one of the wisest decisions you can make right now. Government is, in a way, recession-proof. It’s a constant. And we know that next year they will be spending even more than this year.
In your expert opinion, what are the state and local governments’ biggest challenges?
Sirpis: The funding is expansive and coming in so quickly that state and local governments’ biggest challenge is determining where and how they can spend the money, then setting up the systems and workforce to support it. There has never been this much spending across every single market. $550 billion of the $1.2 trillion in IIJA money is net-new. State and local markets have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with guaranteed spending in infrastructure, transportation, and broadband. This creates enormous opportunities for the private sector.
For companies entering this space, or brands dealing with the massive government turnover, how difficult is it to win contracts?
Sirpis: There are more companies trying to compete for business with the government now more than ever. And there are fewer contracts being awarded. GovTribe reported that in 2022, the number of vendors entering this market increased by 20%, but there was an 11% decrease in companies winning awards. This means that being first is critical. In the state and local market, 90% of contracts go to the first company at the table. So, the competition is fierce. I’d recommend companies stay focused on what they do best and not try to be everything to everyone. Don’t boil the ocean. Hone in on what you can deliver and where your best opportunity is.
What can GovExec do to help these companies in the state and local market?
Sirpis: Because there are so many opportunities, it can be overwhelming. We can help companies focus on the most promising opportunities. As the most comprehensive go-to-market partner in the industry, GovExec has intent data to see market trends and opportunities before they happen, targeted advertising through trusted media brands like Route Fifty, GCN, and City & State (NY, PA, and FL) to educate and connect with buyers on key accounts, and data-driven content to deploy the most sophisticated lead generation tools to turn more prospects into customers. We can power your funnel from end-to-end to fuel your SLG revenue growth.
GovExec has listened to its clients’ needs over the years and developed the SLG Membership as one of its latest innovations for 2023. Can you tell us about what the SLG Membership is, how it can help, and its cost-effectiveness?
Sirpis: Marketing departments are overworked. There is more business to win, increased responsibilities, and fewer people to make it happen. Marketers are expected to do more with less. The SLG Membership saves time and money by creating an always-on marketing program utilizing some of our best-in-class offerings. It gives you access to unparalleled outcomes, like 2,400 pre-RFP opportunities, 24,000 RFP opportunities, 1,200 state and local government leads, and 60,000 targeted contacts. Meanwhile, you get white-glove concierge service from a dedicated membership manager who will work with you to optimize and target the program and your message through the life cycle of the contract, facilitate quarterly briefing sessions, and field monthly on-demand research requests. In some cases, the SLG Membership’s monthly cost is less than one lobbyist for one state, yet membership provides coverage for the entire country. It is a single contract (this alone saves so much time across the year) so you don’t have the transaction costs of developing individual campaigns. We focus on your needs rather than negotiating the next transaction.
What feature of the SLG Membership are you most excited about?
Sirpis: The ability to turn the data from MarketEdge into actionable and targeted marketing. MarketEdge by The Atlas helps you win more deals by getting in before the RFP, analyzing over 4 million signals a month for verified government contacts that have problems you can solve.
With MarketEdge, we are able to go beyond traditional lead generation and persona targeting by gaining prospect intelligence, like content preferences, top interests, event attendance, active RFP opportunities, awards they’re managing, decision history, and their vendor preferences. We can also gain agency intelligence, like decision team maps, current installed base, program budgets, trending topics, and lookalike buyers. This is data that empowers you to engage opportunities before your competitors are even aware that they exist.
As the year comes to a close with 2023 just around the corner, what do you think should be a company’s main focus?
Sirpis: I’ve said for years, there are three key pillars to successful SLG marketing:
- Brand awareness to serve as air coverage to reach the opportunities where companies don’t have feet on the street.
- Targeted marketing to capture those top five to 10 must-win opportunities. We now have an entire suite of data, contact, and RFP products to support this.
- One-to-one networking and messaging. This can be through content or events, live or virtual. I’d caution customers to really think about their live events as more than a gathering of people, but a way to connect and build relationships with the most important people to their success.
This is the same today as it was when I first started in SLG eight years ago. But, today, we have data to inform all of these decisions.
For more information on SLG Memberships or how GovExec can help your brand partner with state and local government, contact Solutions@routefifty.com.