It’s important to find a web design agency who understands the needs of both you as the government contractor and your federal buyer.
Government Buyers are Looking for Content Online
The majority of consumers—with government agencies being one of the largest—have already made a purchasing decision prior to contacting any potential vendors. They get there by doing their research online. In order to get onto a shortlist to become a prospective vendor, it’s essential to become a valuable part of the information gathering stage of their decision making process.
Your website content is the key to adding value and getting connected early.
To attract buyers early, you must provide content (both online and downloadable) that is compelling, high quality, educational, representative of your thought leadership, and relevant, providing prominent visibility of your capabilities.
Below are some tips from a web development agency on how to create great content to build strong relationships and win bids.
Create Compelling Content
You have about 5 seconds to engage a prospect landing on your website and compel them to learn more.
To your ideal customer, typically a contracting officer, progam manager, or federal buyer, you must be a welcome find. Your first job in marketing after being found is to arrange the information your visitor sees in a clear and compelling way. Showcase key parts of your story and let them know they’re in the right place with dynamic solutions a few moments or clicks away. Be concise. Be clear. Be convenient.
- Concise. The more direct and easy to read your content is, the faster your federal buyer can get to the exact information they need. Understanding your government buyer and their problems, pain points and needs will help you serve them best. Educate buyers with in-depth information and guidance as to solve their problems. And do it fast.
- Clear. Respect how busy your buyers are and give them what they need with ease.
- Convenient. Compelling also requires applying a great website design to make sure the content is well organized and easy to skim and scan for your fast readers.
All of your online content, on your government contractor website and anywhere else on the web, must reflect the quality of product and/or service they will receive working with you.
- Professional/Well-Written. Your content reflects your business, so you want it to be at a very high standard that matches your brand and your level of service. Consider this as the way you make your first impression with a new customer, because it is.
- Relevant. Government buyers know what information they are looking for, and you want to make sure you deliver. Quality content reflects an understanding of your customer and a high level of service when your website shows this responsiveness. Include a federal specific contact, NAICS codes, processes, past performance, etc., to demonstrate to your prospect that you are relevant in the industry and can be a great solution.
Is Your Website Content Winning?
Use Various Approaches to Educate Clients and Win Attention
The marketplace is more diffused today than ever before. Rather than chasing bids, it is far more effective to understand your federal buyer and work toward serving them where they are.
They are already online: researching, learning and seeking solutions. Your job is to be where your buyer can see you, understand what you offer quickly, learn to trust you, and then conveniently engage with you. This means going to them and adding value early and often. Two winning strategies to do this are:
- Inbound Marketing. This approach requires quality content that your buyer is looking for – in the form of a guide, white paper, infographic, article, etc. – that makes you top subject matter exoperts (SME) in their eyes. Build quality, educational, cutting-edge content to set yourself apart, reach your customer sooner, and build a relationship on value and relevance.
- Engagement. In the most simple terms, this means how long you can hold your prospect’s attention. When a contracting officer finds you, how long they stay depends on whether or not you provide value. By having great information on your govcon website, and by helping your buyer clarify and improve their problem, you become a valuable partner in the earlier stages of a bid process. Exactly where you want to be.
Reputation Matters – Be Out Front as a Thought Leader
If your reputation precedes you online, you want to control that perception as much as possible. Your brand, your name, your links, your reviews, your past performance results can all contribute to gaining favor or losing face.
Take time to assess, monitor and update your online footprint to make sure you’re putting a strong foot forward. Your business and your reputation can be visible long before any RFP is published. You want to make sure whenever you’re seen, it is in a good light, adding value and building great relationships. When you have a leading position in your industry, your reputation will reflect this and the search engines will reward you too.
Here are some areas to pay special attention:
- General SEO rankings – what keywords are you associated with? Who is linked to your website? (From the search engine’s perspective and from your prospect’s)
- Press (promote positive press and minimize or repair any negative)
- Moderate comments (in social media, on blogs, etc.)
Government Decision Makers are Looking for Specific Capabilities and Content
According to Market Connections, “Contracting officers and federal buyers do not want to be sold to, they want to be informed…Content should help them make informed decisions and have minimal sales messages.”
2019 Content Marketing Review: Federal & Beyond
Give them exactly what they’re looking for and you’ll begin building trust from the first visit. Here are some specific items federal buyers typically want:
- Past performance evidence, articulated via a capabilities statement.
- Data and research to support content.
- Product specifications.
- Government specific landing pages.
- Mobile friendly downloadable content.
- Codes and contract vehicles, linked to full details and contact information.
Use Different Types of Content
To meet the needs of various customers at different stages of procurement, you must supply different types of content. By being proactive and presenting quality information to meet your federal buyer’s needs early, they will return to you and your website again and again as they get closer to an RFP and a contract. Some examples of different website content types are:
Information pages (written content). Be sure to break up large amounts of information with headings and subheadings so the content is skim-able and scan-able with a minimal amount of time. You may only have seconds to provide value and capture a new visitor.
Videos. One of the most popular ways to consume educational content today is through videos. These can be informational, such as an animated presentation, or live action where members from your team can be seen and felt. This initial contact can be a powerful way to begin a trusting relationship and establish you as a thought leader.
White papers (for thought leadership). Longer informational downloads can be a great way to demonstrate you are the industry leader and have the know-how to solve the critical problem your federal buyer is facing.
Webinars, Podcasts. This content is another great way to reach federal buyers earlier in the process. As they are gathering information, organizing specs and details for an RFP and researching prospects, you can be there with valuable guidance and detailed information, even leading the conversation toward your products or services as great solutions. This content must present quality information and add value.
Blogs. Articles are a quick read solution to reach a wider audience. Blog links can be shared easily through social media and can be a powerful way to introduce a new buyer to your website and additional high-value content. With the blog, always include a call to action to the next useful piece of content. Link to downloadable content that captures your visitor’s contact information—so you can stay in touch with them and nurture the relationship.
Guides. Another quick-read solution, a downloadable guide on your website is a tool that your government buyer prospect can easily use to learn quickly, share information with their team, and begin to understand solutions you offer. Build key guides and position them on your govcon website for engagement, relationship building and to demonstrate your depth of knowledge.
Infographics. Like videos, these popular tools are great for engaging your more visual prospects. Show your understanding with quick-glance models of complex information. This will help your buyer see your level of understanding quickly and will also be a tool they can share easily. Infographics make for great social media shares too.
Past performance. Use cases or case studies can be some of the most informative content you can provide on your government contractor website. These stories help prospects understand your specific capabilities and also your outstanding results. Like the other content, you want these stories to be structured for a quick read, and full of valuable information.
Your Website Should Help Build Relationships
The ultimate goal for all this great content is to build a loyal and long-lasting relationship with your federal buyers. In order to do this, the website content needs to:
- Be optimized to reach your customers so they can find you early in the process.
- Provide the information they are looking for.
- Build trust with consistency and quality throughout your content.
- Showcase your capabilities through quality results and stories. These referrals can be a fast way to break down barriers and build trust.
- Conveniently connect through forms, call links, downloads, etc. Do everything you can to capture your prospects once they find you.
- Be responsive to different learning styles and use cases – especially mobile. Many contract officers are doing research via their smart cell phones.
All Content Should Have a Purpose
Every moment you hold your prospective customer’s attention is valuable. Your content should reflect your appreciation for their time by providing essential, easy-to-navigate, informative and engaging content.
- Combine the following critical factors to generate and maximize engagement:
- Clear navigation to direct your visitor,
- Relevant content to inform, entertain or otherwise occupy attention,
- Features to highlight meaningful specific content or elements of interest,
- Speed of delivery,
- And convenience of delivery – especially mobile friendly.
The addition of any random or extraneous content does not add value, it is actually distracting to website visitors and will break trust.
If you are using SEO to get found, random or off-track terms or links can send mixed messages to Google’s Search Engine or to your visitors. Track all components of your digital marketing program to your govcon website for consistency and relevance.
Here are a few resources to learn more:
Website Checklist for Government Contractors (downloadable checklist)
How To Lead Your Federal Buyer To Your Door So They’ll Buy From You (recorded webinar)
How to Choose a Website Company (in-depth guide)
About Ocean 5
Ocean 5 Strategies is a leading growth agency in the greater Washington D.C. area specializing in government contractor websites and content marketing. Get in touch for a Free Website Evaluation to understand how your website and online content can support you to win bids and grow your business.