Friday, November 04, 2005

Selling to the Federal Government

Scott Orbach of EZGSA spoke to IPRA yesterday about the finer points of marketing to the Federal Government. He pointed out that the things that hold you back elsewhere, being a small business, being a women or minority, having a physical disability, actually help in marketing to the Federal government. Federal procurement laws require all branches of the federal government to set aside a certain percentage of their contracts for small business. There are also requirements for businesses owned by women or minorities, veterans, or located in a HUB Zone.

Orbach said that you have to select an agency within the government and explain how your business can solve a problem for them. Don’t go to the contracting officer, go to the office you would be doing business with and explain what you can offer.

Orbach said the best way to discover opportunities was to read the Washington Post . I’m sure they will be pleased to know that. He made a telling point that when the President and Congress are held by different parties they will seek to embarrass each other by calling different Federal Agencies to account. Inspector General’s reports and hearings are the favored means. I had not thought of this previously, but I think he is on to something.

Sandra Chaloux also spoke about her work for the Dept. of Defense. Most of the time when the Federal Government hires outside PR agencies it is for community relations and media monitoring. They prefer to use their public affairs people for story pitching, and I think they are well advised. Chaloux talked about negotiating a GSA agreement. A business has to disclose just about everything, but it makes it easy for procurement officers to do business with you.

Chaloux’s experience mirrors my own, by the time a contract has been put up for bid it has already been wired, as we say in Federal contracting. That is, the agency wrote the specifications with a particular company in mind, and the chances of taking it away from them are not good.

Small Business Administration

SBA Small Disadvantaged Business

Woman’s Business Enterprise National Council

Center for Veterans Enterprise

Minority Business Development Agency

HUB Zone Program

8(a) Business Development

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