GovBizConnect CEO: Bring the power of project management to your BD process

Tom SkypekBe sure to check Co-Founder and CEO Tom Skypek’s article in Washington Technology on bringing the tools and value of project management to the goals of your business development work. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TomSkypek or on LinkedIn.

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GovBizConnect’s mission is to help businesses in the government market find great teaming partners and grow their business by providing a network for targeted, data-driven searches.

How to Generate Sales with Trade Show Marketing: An Interview with Benjamin Camerota, President of MVP Visuals – Part I

Photo: Charles & Hudson

This is Part I of a two-part article on trade show marketing, featuring an interview with Benjamin Camerota, President of MVP Visuals.

For small and large government contractors, trade shows and industry events are a major opportunity to showcase product and service offerings. Washington, D.C., and other government contracting hubs have events almost daily—from seminars and conferences to “industry days” and everything in between.

Despite the rise of content marketing, trade show and event marketing remains a powerful lever in the marketer’s toolkit—especially when leveraged as part of a targeted and holistic marketing strategy. Because these are in-person events they provide a unique chance to connect with decision-makers and build a level of rapport that’s only possible in a face-to-face forum.

But trade show and event marketing can do a number on one’s marketing budget. The costs to attend the event, get a booth or display, and buy branded marketing materials can be significant. According to a 2014 Forrester study, trade show and event marketing is regularly the largest line item in a marketer’s total budget, averaging nearly 20%. So how do you ensure that resources allocated to trade show and event marketing is generating the desired return on investment (ROI)?

Benjamin Camerota, President of MVP Visuals, an online supplier of custom branded displays, recently shared his insights with GovBizConnect on how to harvest the most value from this form of marketing.

For someone new to trade show marketing, what resources would you recommend they consult to learn about the discipline? Are there any blogs, books, or authors that you’d recommend?

There are plenty of great resources out there, such as Exhibitor Magazine and TSNN (full disclosure: I guest blog there). But the first area I’d study is your own business. What are you trying to accomplish by exhibiting at these conferences? Who are you trying to reach?

Before signing up for your first show or ordering branded displays, I recommend looking at your marketing process to determine how trade shows can fit into your overall business plan. After you’ve outlined your objectives, you can determine where and how to exhibit.

Your company, MVP Visuals, offers a range of marketing products for trade shows and events from table covers and back walls to entire booth design. When thinking about where to invest their marketing dollars, what’s the best way for companies to determine which trade show and event products will best fit their needs?

In regards to trade shows, you should start by looking at two groups: competitors and customers. Once you determine where they’re hanging out, it will be easier to narrow down your list. Scour social media, sign up for newsletters, or just call and ask. Typically, businesses are very forthcoming with this information.

In terms of products, it all depends on your brand identity. Is your company’s marketing consistently flashy and loud? Then your displays, and corresponding artwork, should reflect that.

How important is booth location at a trade show? Some events offer premium real estate for a surcharge—is it worth it?

I think it depends on the show itself and the exhibit layout. If you’re attending a larger show with hundreds or thousands of booths, it’s more critical that you’re noticed. Keep in mind: the average attendee will start on one side and work their way towards the middle.

If this is your first show, however, I wouldn’t be as concerned. Sign up early so you can get a great spot without the premium price. After exhibiting the first year, you’ll have a better idea if the additional cost makes sense for your business.

What are your thoughts on pre-show promotions to generate “buzz” before an event?

It’s critical and should be consistent with your day-to-day marketing strategies. If it’s a local event, make your community aware of your involvement and interact with them via social.

A common strategy we see with clients is to incorporate upcoming events into their email marketing and even add the trade show information, including their booth number, to their email signature line.

Have you seen any innovative uses of social media at events to amplify the effects of the in-person dynamic?

Absolutely. There are numerous platforms, for example, that utilize RFID technology via wrist bands that have become common at larger events.

In this example, event goers sign up in advance with their social information. While there, they can “check-in” at different spaces and booths. The platform will simultaneously update their feeds with whatever area they’re currently visiting and pass that information along to the exhibiting company.

A cottage industry has sprung up with companies who create software that analyzes this data and presents it to the business post-show – so that they have a detailed understanding of who their “fans” are and how best to market to them in the future.

To learn more about MVP Visuals, a supplier of custom branded displays, check out their website at www.mvpvisuals.com. You can follow MVP Visuals on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Part II of this interview will run in the coming weeks. 

Lockheed Martin to buy Sikorsky for $9 Billion

Bethesda, MD-based Lockheed Martin is buying helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft from Hartford, CT-based United Technologies Corporation (UTC) for $9 billion. The deal is expected to close later this year or in early 2016.

You can read more about the deal here via The Hartford Courant. 

Government Contractors Cut their Cybersecurity Budgets, New Survey Says


From Mohana Ravindranath at Nextgov:

Government contractors reduced their spending on cybersecurity in the past year, despite several high-profile data breaches, a new survey shows.

About 52 percent of businesses reported a slight decrease in cyber spending in the past year. About 17 percent said their cyber spending increased dramatically, while 31 percent said it increased slightly, according to a new survey from contracting analysis firm Deltek.

“We’re surprised that over half of the companies . . . had experienced decreased spending in cybersecurity,” Deltek Vice President Kevin Plexico said during a call discussing the results. “Our best guess is that the ones that are decreasing are probably not the ones that have had breaches.”

Still, about 46 percent of respondents said they had experienced some type of physical or virtual breach, according to Deltek. About 33 percent said they experienced denial-of-service attacks, 33 percent cited data breaches and 13 percent pointed to physical breaches.

At first glance, this is a surprising trend in light of the highly publicized cyber attacks on SonyAetna, and the recent Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach. The theory posited by Kevin Plexico of Deltek is plausible–that the firms cutting cybersecurity spending have a false sense of security because they have not yet experienced an attack.

Another theory is that some business leaders have come to the conclusion that cyber risk can never be fully eliminated and, as such, that there is a point of diminishing returns in investing in cybersecurity. In other words, the reduction in spending may not be sign of that these firms don’t take cybersecurity seriously but instead have decided that the risk can be satisfactorily mitigated at a lower level of spending.

Let’s say a medium-sized government contractor spends $10 million annually on cybersecurity. It is quite possible that the firm’s cybersecurity risk will not be appreciably reduced by spending $20 or $30 million annually. How companies evaluate and mitigate risk continues to evolve as the threats change daily.

Companies will need to balance the cost of cybersecurity versus the risk of incurring a cyber attack and the reputational and infrastructural damage accompanied by such attacks. C-suite executives and small business owners must work to figure out the all-important question: When it comes to cybersecurity, how much is enough?

Here Comes the GovBizConnect Product Launch: Shooting Our Explainer Video this Saturday

It’s always great when you’re able to collaborate with outstanding friends on business projects–especially when your friends share your commitment and passion for excellence. This Saturday, we’re shooting our “explainer” video for the upcoming GovBizConnect.com product launch. Version 1.0 goes live in August.

We’re very excited to be working with our long-time pal Chris Petrella, founder of Excelsior Wellness Collective, on the project. Chris and his team at Excelsior provide customized nutrition and fitness advice to clients across the United States. They offer flexible options to help clients meet their fitness goals and they have an impressive list of testimonials. They leverage Skype and the phone to connect with clients across the country. They also offer in-person consultations in Boston and Los Angeles. You can also check them out on Facebook.

Chris will be playing the role of “Mike” in our explainer video–a federal business development professional running a larger capture effort who is desperately in need of qualified teaming partners. And he doesn’t know about GovBIzConnect.com–that is until an innovative, tech-savvy colleague introduces him to it. Stay tuned.

Be sure to sign up for GovBizConnect today and share it with your colleagues.

Follow GovBizConnect

About GovBizConnect

GovBizConnect’s mission is to help businesses in the government market find great teaming partners and grow their business by providing a network for targeted, data-driven searches.

M&A Trends in Government Contracting

It’s important for federal business development professionals to understand where the industry is from an M&A perspective. Why? Because M&A activity dramatically affects the competitive landscape of the market. You don’t have to be a C-suite executive at a Fortune 500 contractor or own a small contracting firm to benefit from keeping apprised of the M&A world.

Marc Marlin, managing director at the aerospace & defense investment bank KippsDeSanto & Co., recently shared some interesting thoughts in the Federal Times on the uptick in merger & acquisition (M&A) activity in the government contracting market.

Marlin notes the diverse range of players engaged in these deals (from large and small government contractors, to private equity firms and investment banks) as well as the variety of deals being done, from “further splits of large public firms to corporate divestitures to strategic tuck-ins,” Marlin explains.

Marlin offers a compelling theory on where where we are in the government contracting business cycle:

Why all the activity and why now? One plausible theory is that we’re in a period with a sense of stability. While the hay-days of the post-2001 spending environment are well in the rear view mirror, budgets appear to have bottomed-out, company performance has bounced back in 2014 and early 2015 following a tough 2013 business environment, interest rates are anticipated to start their ascent, and the election is still far enough in the distance to suggest any near term impact. As a result, there is a perceived boundary of market conditions and competitive dynamics allowing companies of all sizes to think and act strategically.

The key takeaway is that M&A activity in the government market will continue to be a dominant driver of the overall competitive landscape. Federal business development professionals should keep up with these trends and consider them as they refresh their business and capture strategies.

Federal Government Exceeds Small Business Contracting Goal: What It Means for Your Business

Small Business Received 25% of All Prime Contracting Dollars in FY14

For the second year in a row, the federal government hit its contracting goal for small business, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) FY2014 Small Business Procurement Scorecard. The federal government awarded nearly 25% of all prime contracting dollars to small business, exceeding the goal of 23%. Small businesses received almost $92 billion in federal contracts in FY14.11061-national-monuments-in-washington-dc-pv

The federal government also exceeded its contracting targets for Service Disabled Veteran Owned (goal: 3%, FY14 actual: 3.38%) and Small Disadvantaged businesses (goal: 5%, FY14 actual: 8.61%). It fell short, however, of its targets for HUBzone (goal: 3%, FY14 actual: 1.76%) and Woman-Owned (goal: 5%, FY14 actual: 4.33%) businesses. You can see how well various Departments and Agencies performed against the small business contracting goals here.

Teaming: A Competitive Advantage or an Achilles’ Heel?

This data underscores the importance of contractor teaming in the government contracting industry. Whether you are a small or large government contractor, having a robust and reliable teaming strategy and network can be a competitive advantage in the marketplace–or an Achilles’ heel. With 1 in 4 federal contracting dollars earmarked for small business, a significant part of the overall government market is implicitly and explicitly tied to teaming. Companies team for a host reasons, as the table below, illustrates.

GBC

Why Companies Team, “Teaming 2.0: The Future of Contractor Teaming in the Government Contracting Industry,” GovBizConnect, LLC White Paper.

Many small businesses need to amplify their teaming relationships in order to position themselves effectively for work as prime contractors. A small business with past performance mostly as a subcontractor can improve their probability of winning a prime contract by having seasoned prime contractors on their team as a subcontractor.

Similarly, large businesses can maintain and grow revenue by strengthening their teaming relationships so that they are able to compete for elements of this work as subcontractors to small business primes. Failing to build these teaming relationships and obtain subcontracting opportunities will leave a lot of revenue on the table.

As we discuss in our white paper, the current process for identifying and connecting with teaming partners based on capabilities and other criteria is limited and highly inefficient. GovBIzConnect is launching Version 1.0 soon–an online professional network for government contractors and government employees (such as contracting officers). In Version 1.0, small and large government contractors will able to build tailored profiles to facilitate the identification of teaming partners based on key criteria. Government employees will also be able to build profiles to search for qualified small businesses. Version 1.0 will be free, so there’s no excuse not to sign up.

Be sure to sign up for GovBizConnect today and share it with your colleagues.

Follow GovBizConnect

About GovBizConnect

GovBizConnect’s mission is to help businesses in the government market find great teaming partners and grow their business by providing a network for targeted, data-driven searches.