By TargetGov on Friday, July 26, 2019
Conferences and matchmaking events, as well as government trade shows or expos, are often an ideal way for services and products business vendors to get their foot in the door with government agencies and decision-makers. Simply attending a conference is not enough however, as you must manage expectations and properly prepare in order to gain a competitive advantage. If you’ve never attended one of these events, it is important to arm yourself with a few tips beforehand.
Establishing Goals for Government Events
Before attending, take the time to do your homework. Identify what agencies and prime contractors will be in attendance and which decision-makers you want to meet with. They are attending these events with their own goals in mind, so try to consider what those might be and what would be appealing to them. Once you know who will be attending, establish your goals—what concrete results do you want to see come from your attendance? It is better to be optimistic and set a high bar rather than go in expecting nothing and gaining nothing out of it as a result. If you believe you can provide a specific solution to a government’s contracting needs, write it out, familiarize yourself with it, and memorize your key talking points.
Bringing Marketing Materials
It’s important to leave a lasting impression and bringing the right marketing materials to conferences can help. Take, for example, the business card: a simple, informative means of marketing. If you design your cards properly, contacts will actually end up holding onto your card and may get in touch down the road. There are a few easy ways to do this: use light colored paper, both sides, a simple and legible designs, include all important info like your company name written out, your title, website, DUNs number, NAICS codes, and a business email address, and make sure your logo is present on the card but isn’t overwhelming.
Another crucial item is your one page capability statement. Including the right elements can set you aside from your competitors and encourage decision-makers to take a second look at you. If you’ve done the proper research beforehand, you can even tailor your capability statement towards specific agencies and opportunities. This is indicative of the extra work and understanding that went into your approach.
Writing an Elevator Speech for Government Events
Remember that you may not have time to explain your services or products in detail at conferences. When you attend the matchmaking sessions or meet agency and prime contractor personnel you will give a quick 20 to 30-second elevator speech that gets to the core of what you do. Try to include at least one differentiator when making this condensed sales pitch—what’s one thing that sets you apart and is easy to include in a quick talk? You will also want to be prepared to talk about pricing if asked. Few buyers attend these events with time to spare, so it’s critical that you know how to get to the core of what is important. Contact TargetGov for a complementary matchmaking pitch format designed specifically for these government events.
Using Attendance as a Learning Experience
As important as setting specific goals is, it is also good to use these events as a learning experience. Look at how your competitors sell themselves and you will quickly see what works and what does not. If you are serious about winning future contracts, you can’t ignore your competition. After the event ends, the work isn’t done: proper follow-up is a necessity. This means gathering up all of the marketing materials you collected from others, taking a look at your notes, and parsing through emails.
If possible, set up follow-up meetings or conference calls. If you didn’t get a chance to give the pitch you wanted and only exchanged business cards with someone, send them your capability statement and keep in touch. Lastly, those who attended should meet and work on a collaborative lessons-learned report that delves into where your strengths and weaknesses were. Before you attend another event like this, go over that report once again and keep those points in mind when attending.
About the Author:
TargetGov provides expert consulting services and business development products that have directly resulted in clients winning billions of dollars in federal contracts. TargetGov is committed to helping all of its clients reach their contracting goals in the federal marketplace. Gloria Larkin, President and CEO, is a national expert in business development in government markets. Email glorialarkinTG@targetgov.com, visit www.targetgov.com, or call toll-free 1-866-579-1346 x 325 for more information.