Using Events to Counter the Challenge of Long Procurement Cycles

Market Connections recently released a study on the marketing practices of Federal Government Contractors. Here at GovEvents we were excited to see some great feedback on the use and effectiveness of events in the marketing mix.

The study took the pulse of the contracting community by surveying 200 government contractors occupying various roles within their respective companies. In terms of marketing, the study found that the long government procurement cycle was the top challenge for marketers and business developers to overcome in reaching government buyers. The study also identified some key marketing tools that have helped contractors use the cycle advantageously.

The use of thought leadership programs was ranked as the most effective marketing tool by a majority of contractors surveyed (75%), and events are a big part of this mix. The second most effective method cited was specific to event strategy. A large percentage of respondents (71%) reported that speaking at industry-wide tradeshows and conferences was a highly effective strategy for their companies. But it's not just big events that get results. When the data was sliced to look at the responses of executives, "speaking at smaller events" proved to be high ranking in terms of effectiveness.  Hosting events also ranked high with 66% of total respondents saying that vendor-hosted events were an effective marketing strategy.

The survey found that company performance is bolstered when these tools are used. When Market Connections compared responses from companies with high win rates versus companies with lower win rates, they found that companies with higher win rates are more confident in their thought leadership programs and government customer relations activities. Events play a huge role in both, allowing company experts to be seen and heard as well as receive feedback from customers on a regular basis.

Taken together, these findings show that while the long sales cycle is frustrating, events are an effective tool to make the most of the time. Contractors can use the long sales cycle to plan and tailor events that educate key audiences on topics related to strategic programs. They can also stay visible to their customers throughout the procurement cycle by attending events.

A panel discussion that accompanied the launch of the survey results echoed how events and thought leadership programs can be used together to make the most of the time allotted to government sales cycles.  Panelists included:

  • Greg Baroni, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Attain
  • Matt Bechtel, Senior Manager Digital Marketing, Lockheed Martin
  • Andrew Bryden, Chief Marketing Officer, CSRA, Inc.
  • Anthony Robbins, Vice President, Department of Defense Segment, AT&T Global Business - Public Sector Solutions
  • Lana Trudeau, Practice Manager, Global Programs, Worldwide Public Sector for Amazon Web Services

Trudeau said she sees how hard it is hard for government employees to stay on top of trends when they are bogged down in the day-to-day work of the long procurement cycles that plague the contracting industry. To address this challenge, Amazon runs training programs to ensure that contractors have regular access to up-to-date information about emerging tech trends. The panelists also stressed that in addition to simply presenting information, events should provide a platform for government to communicate across agencies as well as learn from industry.

For a full look at the Market Connections findings, download the report.

To discover events that meet your learning, training, and networking goals, visit GovEvents.

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