Blog, Resources

Inbound marketing guide for targeting government agencies

02.09.2021

For many companies, developing a marketing strategy that appeals directly to their target audience is time-consuming and resource-intensive. It takes extensive research plus strategic, long-term planning. Not only this, but the correct marketing strategy also holds no guarantee of success thanks to a turbulent and ever-shifting market. For companies wishing to market themselves directly to government agencies, this difficulty is doubled, with more challenges, more hurdles, and more expectations in the way of securing a prosperous contract.  

The challenges of marketing to government agencies 

From healthcare and education to defence and transport, there are countless opportunities for the right business to build and establish a fruitful working relationship with government organisations. However, with this opportunity comes a set of marketing challenges unique to your audience.  From handling sensitive data to demonstrating reliability and world-class expertise – there are uniquely vital components in securing government deals.  

Government agencies, more so than commercial businesses, are interested in working with organisations that have established a reputation. They want to see evidence that you are an expertly skilled and able team which can demonstrate your reliability and possess experience working on similar projects. This gives them assurance you can meet their specific criteria – such as handling secure and sensitive data or working on projects that require privacy.  

This is especially true for technology companies. For government organisations to adopt your technology solution, it needs to be verified, trusted, and robust in quality. For organisations starting in this field, these pre-requisites may seem either difficult or unreachable. 

We want to equip you and your business with the tools and knowledge necessary to succeed in your field. That’s why we’ve written a guide that outlines exactly what challenges you can expect to face, as well as how you can best navigate them. While our expertise lies in technology companies, these challenges apply to anyone looking to penetrate the government market. 

With a solid marketing strategy, you can build a brand image that supports your credibility and wins you business. The right marketing foundation can lead your business to thrive on a trusted relationship with government agencies, both on a short- and long-term basis.  

Navigating the government landscape requires a strategic blend of precision and adaptability. Crafting an effective inbound marketing strategy for government agencies involves not just understanding their needs, but also speaking their language, and building trust through transparency and relevance.”

Gemma Bailey, Head of Delivery

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is all about putting your audience first. This approach primarily facilitates friendly lead generation and building trustworthy, authoritative reputations.

The aim is to centre your marketing activity around supporting your audience’s success and helping them reach their goals. By delivering genuinely valuable communications and content you can entice prospects to come to you (hence the term inbound) and build truly lasting relationships with your customers.

The benefits of inbound marketing: 

  • Cost-effective lead generation with greater ROI, exploiting digital marketing
  • Building digital presence, brand authority, and brand equity
  • Defining a customer journey that creates sales qualified leads
  • Continually tracking, evaluating and adapting strategies based on performance

Read our full guide on B2B marketing for technology companies

4 vital goals for businesses catering to government agencies 

The first step involved in developing a winning marketing strategy is to create a clear list of tangible goals which you’d like that strategy to achieve. These should be linked specifically to the challenges of marketing to government agencies to ensure the best possible outcome. Here are four vital goals that will set the foundation for building a positive working relationship with government agencies: 

  1. Build and establish a reputation for your business as a thoroughly skilled and market-leading team capable of handling any pressing issues that may arise with care and ease. 
  2. Increase engagement with partners to build a wider network of peers and sources. This will aid in both enhancing your brand image as collaborators,  as well as potentially growing your business internally by attracting likeminded individuals. 
  3. Prove that you are capable of handling sensitive information and data. Again, this will aid in generating a positive reputation that depicts your business as one able of discretion, privacy and, above all, security. 
  4. Establish a clear and consistent tone of voice that applies to a wide range of audiences. This will create a reliable brand image that proves to potential clients that your voice is confident, well-founded, and unwavering.  

*TOP TIP* One key point to consider is that while knowing what to do to achieve these goals will suffice, understanding the reasoning and elements behind these goals gives you and your business insight and perspective that may be otherwise lost.  

Goal #1 – The importance and essentials of building a reputation 

A fundamental aspect of marketing your business to government agencies is in ensuring that you have a solid and ‘verified’ reputation as a leading team, capable of handling any issues with care and expertise. This is a great priority for agencies wishing to extend a contract to you, regardless of what industry you wish to join. 

There are many ways to improve your reputation through marketing and present yourself as professional and capable.  Many of the other goals we’ll cover below will also help to build your reputation in the process. To begin with, here are a few things to consider: 

Seek out and engage with field experts 

We’ll discuss the value of promoting your partners later. Using this wider reach to get quotes from standing experts in your field will aid in solidifying your reputation through the inclusion of a person of authority on the matter. This demonstrates your expertise through their willingness to work with you. Reach out and see who is willing to give you a quote. If you’re marketing cybersecurity solutions, reach out to cybersecurity experts from big industries for a guest blog. If medical, why not pursue a piece with an expert discussing their medical journal publication? The possibilities here are endless. 

YOU MAY LIKE: Why businesses need to consider partner marketing

Don’t underestimate a conference 

Involvement in various conferences, roundtables and discussions are invaluable. Not only does your business reach a wider audience – potentially growing in the process – but you display your engaged role in market-driving discussion, demonstrating thought leadership.  

Remember, reputation is key for government contractors. By shaping a reputation built on expertise, knowledge and capability, government agencies will know you and your business are up to the task.  

Case studies are your friend 

When working on building a reputation based on expertise and reliability, nothing reinforces the message quite like a case study. Case studies actively demonstrate your business’ ability to execute a task to the highest quality by providing key examples of how you’ve done this in the past. This gives agencies the chance to examine how you resolve issues, as well as gaining an insight into how you operate. When written well, case studies could be the foundations you need to alleviate any hesitation and secure your contract.  

Read our blog on creating an effective case study

Goal #2 – Promote your partners 

Actively promoting your current partners and network has a wide range of benefits. Not only does it display your business’ cooperative spirit, which is great for brand image, but it also attracts likeminded individuals to your brand. This helps grow your network and supports recruitment efforts.   

Actively promoting your partners may also be beneficial if the projects you’re involved in handles sensitive data which may be difficult to openly discuss. In scenarios where you’re unable to disclose your actions, actively highlighting the actions of your partners gives any potential agencies a brief insight into those you associate with.  

Alternatively, you may wish to promote your partners to highlight a collaborative environment. This shows potential agencies researching you that you can work well and coordinate with others for maximum effect. 

Doubling your audience 

As well as this, a bonus of promoting your partners is that you effectively double your potential audience. By promoting your partners on your page, and encouraging them to do likewise, you both place yourselves in front of audiences not native to your brand yet. The best part is, this audience is pre-qualified as interested and engaged in your issues – the perfect way to encourage growth.  

Goal #3 – Showcase your ability to handle sensitive data  

When working directly with government agencies, there will be multiple occasions when you will be charged with handling sensitive projects, data, and information. This means that any agencies you’re seeking to impress will certainly research your ability to handle items of sensitivity. By showcasing examples of how your business has handled sensitive information in the past, you can reassure agencies, while demonstrating your skill in one move.  

However, this is easier said than done. The concept of discussing your ability to not discuss information may seem paradoxical, and for good reason. To set you on the path of doing this effectively, here are three key methods to begin with: 

Plan these pieces in advance

The best time to consider how and when you’re going to discuss your ability to handle sensitive data is when you initially take on a new project. In doing so, you and your business will be enabled to discuss a project effectively and without concern, knowing exactly what you may include, and what may violate trust. Begin by asking key questions both internally and with any potential partners to establish your standing. These questions may include: 

  • Will you need approval to discuss this project? 
  • Will you be able to discuss your partners? 
  • Do you need to sign any NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) that may limit your ability to discuss this project at all? 

Limit discussing your partners or your actions by directly outlining your capabilities instead

Effectively demonstrating your direct capabilities, instead of discussing specific examples, alleviates any tension regarding privacy or sensitivity.  

Frame your abilities in a hypothetical context

By doing so, you can effectively eliminate any potential mishandling of data by placing both your capabilities, as well as that of your partners, in a purely hypothetical context. Although this may be based on real examples, the use of hypotheticals will demonstrate that not only can you handle sensitive data, but that you possess keen technical capabilities as well.  

These three methods demonstrate to potential agencies that you can take great care in handling secure projects.  

*TOP TIP* – The fact that talking openly about projects is so rare in government is why it’s so important to take advantage of collaborative marketing opportunities when they arise. 

Goal #4 – Establish a clear and consistent tone of voice 

Establishing a consistent tone of voice for your brand is a vital cornerstone in building a reputable and reliable brand image. Create an inconsistent tone of voice, and your image too will be seen as inconsistent and unreliable. Alternatively, a well-founded tone of voice will generate the opposite effect – projecting an impression of solidity, security, authenticity, and trust.  

Begin by inspecting your current copy  

To increase the consistency of your overarching tone of voice, it’s necessary to evaluate and compare your businesses content – from landing pages to social feeds and emails. Once this is all collated, begin by searching for any irregularities that aren’t intentional. Are your terms always presented correctly (using hyphens, quotation marks etc) and do you approach the reader in the right form (i.e, first or third person)?  

After this, you can begin to analyse your copy more closely. From sentence structure to formality, the more uniform your copy, the more consistent your brand image. However, there are exceptions when you may wish to change your copy: 

Adapt your copy to suit a wide range of audiences 

When marketing to government agencies, you will meet a wide variety of audiences. Therefore, it is essential to adjust your copy for the audience most likely to be receptive to it. Considering an audience more technically skilled and able – demonstrate your expertise through the inclusion of complex jargon and terms that you know they will be able to understand and respect. For a more general audience, a well-balanced thought-leadership piece with more generalised terms may perform better.  

The type of content you produce, and the language you use, may well be dictated by the sector you’re seeking to gain entry to. For defence and security, pieces focused on past-experiences and reinforcing tried-and-tested reliability may perform exceedingly well. For sectors more focused on research and development, such as healthcare, more engaging and innovative thought-leadership pieces may capture interest and drive popularity. 

As with any marketing strategy, the more you know about your audience, such as what they respond well to and the platforms they most use, the more you can adapt your messaging to their specific needs, pain points, and style. Particular attention should be placed here on the wide variety of platforms available to host on. These platforms may be unique for those seeking a relationship with government agencies, such as the government digital marketplace. The more research and insight into what platforms are best suited to your purpose, the more chance of success you have. 

Have technical documentation ready at a moment’s notice 

With content driving interest, it’s important to always have technical documentation ready for immediate distribution or reference. This will enable you and your business to not only answer any queries with a high level of expertise, but will ensure that you have the right content to hand out to reinforce and support your claims.  

Having assets like product sheets and whitepapers, as well as general thought leadership, allows you to meet your prospects’ specific queries when they ask for them and move them towards a secured deal.  

The roundup 

Marketing to government agencies presents a wide range of unique challenges. From building and establishing a consistent tone of voice to building a reliable and secure reputation. Through this guide, we’ve covered how to begin not only building this secure brand image, but also how to consider a wide range of audiences and what to be wary of when handling sensitive data for marketing purposes. 

Our 3 key takeaways you can’t afford to ignore: 

  1. Reputation takes top priority: Government agencies will likely prioritise reliability, trust and ability more so than culture, values and ethics. It’s vital to ensure that your reputation reflects this.  
  2. Your partners empower you: You have partners, and your partners have voices and expertise as well. Use them. By promoting your partners on your page, and encouraging them to do the same with you, expect to see a whole host of benefits – the least of which is effectively doubling your audience.  
  3. Know your audience: Thoroughly researching your target audience is extremely important. Succeed, and your content will impress and attract potential investors and partnerships. Fail, and you can potentially damage your business’ reputation. Put the time into finding out what content your audience responds to best, as well as on what specific platforms.  

With these takeaways, you can ensure that your business will be well on the way to securing a great working relationship with your targets. 

For more information about how best to market your businesses to government agencies, why not take a look at some of our insights or case studies. Alternatively, you can contact us directly with any queries you may have.