Selling to the Government in a digital world

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a major change in the way consumers make purchases. What was once a predominately in-person purchasing scenario has moved online. The Business to Government (B2G) segment has not moved as easily into the digital marketplace.

From a social media standpoint, government marketing spending is likely one of the lowest in the world. Therefore, it is not feasible for social media platforms to segment their offerings to accommodate B2G audience segmentation. LinkedIn however, is the one social media platform that does offer government-industry segmentation and programs, making it a powerful tool for those in the federal government acquisition arena.

Small and medium-sized contractors, however, should consider getting in on the ground floor of other social media outlets, before the digital environment begins to get crowded. When setting up your digital marketing plan, keep in mind the most used digital tools are search engine marketing, social media marketing, and programmatic marketing.

A procurement team or official might search for organization information such as past performance and proof of competence when evaluating bidders for requests for proposal compliance. As a contractor, this makes a contractor’s digital strategy extremely important.

The most effective B2G digital strategies include:

  • Consistent brand message across all social media platforms
  • Content compatible with SEO strategy.
  • Expanded or enhanced digital footprint/leverage content to stay “on brand.”
  • Powerful organic content – the original content copy and image posted on social media platforms.
  • Visibility – growth of followers by paid media within specific audiences.

Contractors’ digital content can bring their message to key influencers and decision-makers. Visibility during the RPF or RFQ phase is crucial, especially for small businesses and those on the ground floor looking to start or further their work with government agencies.

Digital strategy questions? Give us a call.

Expected Growth in 2021 – Don’t miss out!

The federal government adapted to many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.  At the same time, government contractors were dealing with their own set of challenges. Declining margins and watching nearly 70% of projects that were ahead of schedule, fall behind in 2020. (Nextgov June 7, 2021)

The hardest hit were small business contractors. Their profit margins dropped nearly 35%, with costs to bid on contracts rising exponentially. (ibid)

With all the changes in 2020, government contractors still remain optimistic that government contracting will increase into 2021 and 2022. Vendors trust that the changes to government operations will prove beneficial, in the long run. Especially with remote workforces expanding the available talent pool since companies will no longer be limited to specific geographic areas. (ibid)

A recent study showed contractors in the federal information technology sector expecting significant growth in 2021. Additionally professional services and aerospace and defense expect large gains as well as state, with local and higher education spending growing too. (ibid)

The study also shows industry is focused on exploring new ways to do business in a more virtual world. In-person meetings and events are still rare, forcing companies to seek new business opportunities from their existing client base. Fewer companies rely on public bid notices such as those found on SAM.gov or industry events or conferences. (ibid)

Companies must acclimate to doing business in a virtual world. Many may find, the best use of their resources is no longer face-to-face meetings.  Working virtually may be the optimum use of their assets, going forward. (ibid)

Are you looking to benefit from the predicted growth trend? Give us a call.

 

Procurement vs. Purchase

If we can be certain of one thing, it is that the pandemic wreaked havoc on many businesses and their business models. We tend to see government procurement growth during times of crisis. Once the media blasted us with headlines of medical device and personal protective equipment shortages, procurement officials found themselves in a precarious position. How to get supplies and get them fast.

Rick Grimm, chief executive officer of NIGP, the Institute of Public Procurement worries that procurements may slow down, now that shortages are being met. According to a brief from NIGP, “when skilled, professional procurement is buried within an organization and disconnected from the decision-making process, key business opportunities efficiencies and full value for money may be lost.” (Route Fifty May 7, 2021)

We witness the word “purchasing”  being substituted for the more comprehensive term “procurement.” Many believe this field should cover a broad scope of activities such as developing suppliers, strategizing to enhance supplier relationships, actively managing acquisitions and supervising contracts, and evaluating supplier performance. (ibid)

State governments made great inroads with suppliers during the pandemic. Many incentivized the private sector. In Maryland, where weapons systems are made for the Department of Defense, producers pivoted to make ventilators. Hand sanitizers were also retooled and made locally. (ibid)

The challenge to governments was understanding how vendors could best be utilized. There was no way to work with overseas manufacturers. Local product lines were evaluated and swiftly shifted. (ibid)

What does the future hold? Hopefully, the speed of procurement progress over the past year will not be in vain. Grim stated, “leveraging the value of procurement in achieving the government’s mission, helps you achieve those goals and becomes procurement’s mission as well. The big challenge, still, is getting the bosses of procurement to understand its strategic value.”(ibid)

Ready to get into federal procurement? Give us a call.

 

 

EZ-ier requirements for COVID efforts at GSA says EZGSA

GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program may be used by state and local governments to procure commercial products, services, and solutions necessary to respond to the pandemic. GSA is providing additional support by issuing Acquisition Letter (AL) MV-21-03 and Supplement to further aid America in response to COVID-19. (GSA Interact April 14, 2021)

AL achieves this by:

  • Temporarily waiving (3) MAS solicitation requirements in MAS provision SCP-FSS-001 when a company is proposing products/services to support COVID-19 efforts.
  • The AL waives:
  1. The requirement to possess two years of Corporate Experience
  2. The requirement to submit a Relevant Project Experience for each SIN proposed
  3. The requirement to submit an Annual Financial Statement for the previous two years (ibid)

The AL, however, does not change the following:

  • Certain vendor instructions regarding the submission of a Corporate Experience narrative, Letter of Commitment/Supply, Past Performance Information, Quality Control Plans
  • Category/SIN specific technical requirements outlined in the MAS Solicitation category attachments
  • A Contracting Officer’s overarching responsibilities especially determining fair/reasonable pricing, ensuring compliance with vendor instructions, and making a responsibility determination in accordance with FAR subpart 9.1 (ibid)

AL applies to all MAS large categories, subcategories, and SINs under the following conditions:

  • New vendors proposing products, services, and/or solutions in direct support of COVID-19 efforts
  • Current MAS contractors adding service SINs in direct support of COVID-19 efforts (ibid)

AL does not apply under the following conditions:

  • Any offers or modifications which include products, services/solutions that do not directly support COVID-19 efforts
  • To VA MAS for medical equipment, pharmaceutical services, or supplies (ibid)

GSA is doing a number of things to support the ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The following are to name a few:

  • Deferring MAS contract cancellations when minimum sales haven’t been met under I-FSS-639 Contract Sales Criteria
  • Issuing a non-availability determination for Trade Agreement, Buy American Statute Class Determination, allowing contracting officers to temporarily award non-TAA compliant product to support COVID-19 requirements
  • Purchase Exceptions from the AbilityOne Program
  • Implementation of Emergency Acquisition Flexibilities (ibid)

GSA/FAS has many mechanisms for its Federal Partners to access the vital supplies and services required to meet the COVID-19 pandemic. For companies who would like to reach the government market beyond the MAS program, the Commercial Platforms program provides options to partner with several commercial e-marketplace platforms. It is also possible to partner with an existing MAS contractor as a subcontractor, providing part of a total solution to an agency’s COVID requirements. (ibid)

Questions concerning AL, what it does, doesn’t do, or do you now qualify for GSA? Give us a call.

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 actually helped small businesses do business

Due to the pandemic, the federal government has expanded remote network access to assist a dispersed workforce. This in turn has motivated reforms to the procurement system.

According to Roya Konzman, acting division director for solutions development at General Services Administration’s Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), “suddenly there was a need for new hardware, software and network access security, so we advised our Small Business Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs and Social Security Administration on their procurement strategies. GSA empowered its contracting officers to expand its rated orders authority. These orders are issued in accordance with the defense priorities and allocation system, and rated orders applied to IT capabilities included teleworking and health care solutions such as VPN accounts, virtual desktop infrastructure solutions, laptops, and mobile devices, and also covered personal protective equipment such as medical products hand sanitizers and disposable gloves.” (GovernmentCIO Media & Research April 6, 2021)

A national emergency allows the use of rated order authority. It authorizes GSA to prioritize a solicitation on behalf of an agency to buy goods and services. If a contractor receives a rated order, the contractor must prioritize that order ahead of other orders in the queue. (ibid)

There were so many rated orders issued to large contractors that individual suppliers often had a hard time meeting demands within the allotted timeframe. The result was federal agencies looked to enlarge their contracting base to include specialized smaller and mid-sized contractors. (ibid)

Because smaller firms do not have the “red tape’ that larger firms have, they can often change directions quickly. This makes smaller firms extremely valuable during times of national crisis. (ibid)

The federal government invested in video conferencing software and remote connectivity during the pandemic. This affords vendors the opportunity to demonstrate their products to various procurement offices. Additionally, agencies can quickly evaluate a large range of potential contractors. Which helps potential contractors who might have otherwise been overshadowed by larger vendors with preexisting relationships. (ibid)

Do you have a specialized product that the federal government needs? Give us a call.