Why even bother with a public sector marketing strategy?
Our Marketing Manager Emina gives you three reasons why you should get cracking on a public sector marketing strategy...
As a Marketing Manager one of the first things I heard from some suppliers when I joined Advice Cloud was “Why should we bother with public sector marketing strategy?”. To me this question seemed a rhetorical one. Of course, you need one I thought. It’s like asking “why should we bother selling, after investing the time to get listed on a framework”.
And yet we often find that suppliers indeed list on frameworks and then don’t bother to sell or market. Rather they expect the leads to just come pouring in. This is of course the wrong approach. Frameworks, such as G-Cloud, are not a source of inbound leads and to make sales happen you do need a sales and marketing strategy. Here are just three reasons why a marketing strategy, in particular, is critical to success:
The public sector is an extremely complex market
How much do you really know about your target market? Are you even focused on one or two markets or are you simply targeting “the public sector”? If it’s the latter, you are in dire need of a marketing strategy!
Recently we wrote an article on the Benefits and challenges of public sector targeting so I won’t go through it here again. But just consider this: local government is comprised of 27 counties and 201 district and borough councils in England alone, central government has over 485 different departments, there are 43 local police forces in the UK, the NHS has over 200 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). I could go on….
The public sector is a complex beast and each part of it has its own ways to procure technology and their own unique problems to solve with this technology. Not to mention, thousands of employees that could potentially be the right person to contact to make those sales happen! As a supplier who wants to succeed in the sector, your first job is to really know your target buyer and their problems. An effective public sector marketing strategy does exactly this – clearly outlines the buyer and the problem your solution is solving. And, then builds tactics around this knowledge!
Without it you are just chasing leads not engaging with them
Public sector buyers don’t live in a vacuum and buy technology just by looking at a listing. They will look up a company’s website, check them out on social media, ask their colleagues or maybe they met you at an event. It is not news that the public sector buys from trusted suppliers that they often already know.
But, how did those suppliers become trusted in the first place? A lot of this has to do with content and networking. Their websites are full of expert pieces that are of interest to their buyer, they frequently email their white papers to their prospects, their news stories are picked up by public sector media, they get involved in the discussion on social media and frequently go to events where their buyers gather.
Buyers, no matter who they are, want to see that you understand their problems, know their sector and are engaged with the debates they care about. This is all done through a well-planned content and events calendar. These can not only help you sell, but they can help you sell faster, shortening those long sales cycles the public sector is often famous for.
This isn’t an easy job, particularly for a busy marketing department or if your sales team are also doing your marketing. I mean who has time to write content when you are busy chasing leads. And, that is where the problem lies. Too often that is what suppliers are doing. Chasing leads and not planning how to engage with leads. Take some time and plan your content and the events your sales team will go to. Do this and you will spend less time chasing and more time actually selling!
We have written before about how to do this, specifically in our How to create a sure fire public sector case study and Building a bulletproof public sector content strategy, I’d recommend taking a look.
Frameworks are not easy to understand
All government frameworks I have worked with have one thing in common: to sell, suppliers need to promote themselves and not just sit around to be discovered.
But this is where the commonalities often end. Every framework is different, and they require a different marketing approach. How sure are you that you are even on the right Lot, let alone that your listing is crafted in the best possible way? Can you demonstrate to your prospects how easy it is to buy technology from you by using frameworks?
Building your brand as an expert who can show your buyers not just how to buy your solution, but also how to make savings, is a strong and very appealing message. An effective public sector marketing strategy is written by people who understand frameworks and can incorporate this knowledge into their tactics.
These are just 3 reasons why you should bother with a strategy. I could go on and on about this but there is a running joke at Advice Cloud that I write novels not blogs. Guess that’s because I’m passionate about this! ?
But, let me leave you with this:
Many suppliers I meet have this idea that if they are successful in the private sector they will by default succeed in the public sector. Having a marketing strategy to sell to your private sector customers is great, for your private sector sales!
If you are to make the public sector market a success you should treat it with the same respect. After all I’m sure you didn’t just wake up one day and trip over success. You planned and worked for it.