Most small businesses that offer products or services and have been in business for at least two years qualify for GSA contracts. However, most small business owners are wary of the red tape and hurdles that come with government contracts or are worried that they aren’t going to be able to keep up with government demands. However, GSA contracts allow you access to the marketplace, so you can take government contracts both big and small at your leisure.
The reality is that GSA sales are a huge part of government spending. In 2019 alone, over $30 billion was spent on GSA contracts with federal agencies such as the Department of Education. Small businesses are now realizing that having a GSA contract allows them to grow their business in ways they never would have dreamed of. It is a great way to get solid business and grow your company’s core competencies in a way that also allows you to expand into the private sector even more.
Below, we are going to go into detail on how you can get GSA sales and some marketing secrets that will allow you to tap into the billions of dollars a year that the government pays their GSA contractors.
GSA Sales are Huge
GSA contracts make billions of dollars a year. Most products and services will be able to go after GSA contracts, but there are some that are more lucrative than others. For instance, IT and software services garnered $15.5 billion in awarded contracts in 2019. Professional services received over $9 billion in contracts. Even furniture for government buildings earned almost $900 million in 2019.
As you can see, there is a wide array of different businesses that make lucrative earnings off of the GSA marketplace. The government encourages many federal agencies to look to small businesses to fulfill their needs. After a bit of research, you should be able to determine if your company is a good fit for a GSA contract. If so, and you meet all the requirements, this can be a surefire way to grow your company rapidly and reliably.
General GSA Marketing Secrets
Marketing to different federal agencies once you have your GSA contract isn’t a whole lot different than the regular marketing you would do as a small business. Below, we will go over some marketing tips and tricks that you can use to market your small business so that you can be successful in the GSA schedule program.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money marketing in order to get the word out. In fact, you can do it on a small budget if you are creative and innovative with your methods. The methods we will go into detail with below will help you get the word out that you are a small business that can be trusted, allowing you to earn plenty of GSA bids in the marketplace and even have federal agencies come directly to you.
Here are the marketing secrets that you need to know as a small business owner:
Keep It Low Cost
Thankfully in the digital age, there are plenty of options for low-cost marketing. If you leverage the internet to your advantage, you’ll be able to get the word out in no time. For government contracts, we recommend networking on LinkedIn and having an informational Linkedin page for your company, as well as a high-quality website. With tools such as Squarespace and Wix, you can get a professional website up and running in no time at all.
Marketing doesn’t work in a day. You’ll need to do a little bit every day until you start making an impact. If you give up in the early stages, you’ve already lost. Consistent effort is the key to great marketing. If it helps, make sure you set up a monthly marketing schedule so that you can stay on-task.
You will need to continually plant new seeds and tend to them so that they grow into lucrative contracts. Keep tending to them, as when you aren’t patient and give up, a different small business is going to get that contract. Remember, the government needs what you are providing, and they will get those products and services from someone, it just may not be you. Additionally, the government is notorious for moving at a snail’s pace, so always keep that in mind.
Create a Strong Brand Image
You need to paint a clear picture of what you offer and what kind of company you are. That way, when a federal buyer needs what you offer, they are going to come to you first. Clear messaging is key, no need for gimmicks here.
Make your marketing efforts part of your daily effort. Keep your brand image consistent. Stay the course.
Dominate A Niche
If you see there isn’t a product being offered by a current GSA contractor, fill that niche. Offer what other competitors don’t offer, and you will become the leader of that market.
Keep The Customer Happy
You need to identify the problems your customers and potential customers are having and create solutions to those problems. If you stay ahead of the game in this way, you aren’t going to have a problem scoring new contracts.
Figure Out Your Target Market
The federal government and its agencies are a vast ocean. You will be able to keep your marketing efforts more focused if you identify the top agencies that are going to need your product. If you do this, you’ll be able to easily identify the decision-makers and the people that you need to focus on the most.
Exude Confidence and Create Trust
Make sure that all of your interactions with your customers are positive and that they trust you. Word gets around, and this will allow you to score even more contracts in the future. Make sure you are confident in what you do as any buyer doesn’t want a company who isn’t sure about what they offer.
There are going to be competitors, so it is important that you always stay top of mind. Offer a blog and email list for your current or potential clients and regularly check-in with them by giving them a call or sending a personalized email. Make sure that you are always the first one they think of.
Many government agencies get limited budgets. Additionally, they don’t know what their budget will be next year or years down the line. They are going to want quality products they don’t have to buy year after year. Make sure what you are delivering them will stand the test of time, and they will come back to you next time they need something.
Be An Expert
When it comes to your product or service, be the expert. Post articles on Linkedin about your industry that are informational and helpful. Reach out to your customers with a newsletter going over the latest industry trends. When you’re an expert in your field, no matter what it is, you are going to engender trust with federal buyers.
Create Real Relationships
Your customers and prospective customers should know who you are and feel comfortable coming to you with any questions or issues. This keeps current customers delighted, which is a very important part of the marketing lifecycle.
You should make sure that your company can be as agile as possible. You may get a request that isn’t what you normally do. However, if you are open to being flexible, you will continue to get government contracts from those agencies time and time again. The most successful government contractors in the country got to where they are by offering a variety of products and services.
Learn What Agencies To Target
Not all government agencies currently use the GSA schedule heavily, so it is important to know which ones do so that you know who you should target. You can visit this list to see the top agencies.
In 2019, the below agencies spent at least 10% of their budget on the GSA schedule:
- Department of Education
- Office of Personnel Management
- Department of Treasury
- Department of Justice
- Social Security Administration
- Department of Labor
- Department of Interior
- Environmental Protection Agency
Winning GSA Bids
Now that you know how to market your small business and which government agencies to target, the last step is knowing how to win a GSA bid and seal the deal. There are a few different routes that you can take.
Monitor GSA Bids on eBuy
Federal buyers post projects they need bids for on eBuy. If you are monitoring this system every day and have pre-prepared materials to submit for projects, this is a great way to get started on GSA bids. You already know the customer needs what they are requesting, all you have to do is give them an attractive bid and win them over.
Know Your Buyers
Whether or not you are using eBuy, you should know your buyers personally. You’ll be able to more likely win a bid as well as custom-tailor the bid to what you know they are looking for.
Make Your Landing Page Sparkle
All GSA contractors will have their landing page on the website, so you may get federal buyers reaching out to you directly. This is more likely to happen if you make their life easy. Use clear, simple, and helpful marketing messaging in order to win them over.