By Stacey Piper
Growing up I watched a lot of Broadway shows with my parents and now share a love for musical theater with my daughter. Reflecting on marketing challenges during the pandemic, I remembered the “Getting to Know You” scene from The King and I, a musical about the real-life love story between the King of Siam and his children’s British governess.
While the song is very light-hearted, describing an introduction between the schoolteacher and the royal children, the past year of COVID-19 has been anything but “free and easy” as companies scrambled to progress customer intimacy in new and improved ways. We pivoted to remote work and honed our skills in running interactive webinars and using social media to effectively reach our audiences and tell our brand stories.
Successful government contractors understand that the process of knowing and being known must be more than a stellar bid response, demand generation campaigns, or traditional corporate communications. In order to remain competitive and be positioned for the next big opportunity, especially professional services, we need to be attuned to the 6 to 24 months prior to an RFP. During these times when your audience is not actively paying attention to your brand, you need to be actively engaged in developing awareness, cultivating relationships, and demonstrating thought leadership. This type of pipeline marketing, or Agency-based Marketing (ABM), is a proven long-term approach to expanding reputation and building credibility strategically.
ABM works across all teams impacted by the buying cycle, not just sales and marketing, to understand the buyer’s journey, targeting challenges such as:
- Limited brand awareness in a particular area or for a single core offering
- Low name recognition within an agency
- No or limited access, i.e., the need to get your foot in the door or open more doors
In federal capture, you create an “Influence Map”; in federal marketing, you develop customer personas to understand your buyers. An experienced agency-based marketer like Piper Strategies can work with you to build out an empathy map, a deep-dive into the buyer’s mindset and needs at each step of the buying cycle, to drive differentiated messaging and content. The buyer journey is a continuum from Awareness to Consideration, Decision, and finally Retention. And since we’re focused on building relationships, we use one-to-one or one-to-few tactics to move from current state to your desired state of being known. We work with sales to identify the buying stages and create custom touchpoints—content, speaking engagements, hosted events, and more—to nurture the buyer through the funnel, not just into it. Throughout the sequence, we iteratively monitor and improve to optimize engagement and awareness.
Marketing to federal, state, or local government requires a thorough understanding of each agency’s needs, buying cycle, and biases and preferences about contractors, coupled with a holistic approach to connecting with influencers and decision makers.