If you and your company have been in business for long, you may already be familiar with the terms B2B and B2C. Individuals, companies, and organizations often shape their marketing strategy to target prospective clients in the B2B or B2C capacities, but often overlook a third avenue that has been around since the birth of big business: B2G (business-to-government).
Investopedia provides a useful and simple definition: B2G interactions are “professional affairs conducted between companies and regional, municipal or federal governing bodies. Business-to-government typically encompasses the determination and evaluation of government agency needs, the creation and submission of proposals and the completion of the contracted work.” It’s also worth noting that some B2C and B2B businesses sometimes engage in B2G marketing to land a few side contracts to extend their domain in the public sector. (Think SpaceX selling space capsule equipment to NASA or Humana providing medical intel or other health-related services to the Department of Health and Human Services).
Why B2G Rely on Content Marketing
The statistics in the B2G space can be staggering to those unaware of the size of the government’s budget. The figure below shows a breakdown of the awards that departments and agencies have given in contracts in fiscal year 2015. Broadly, contracts can range anywhere from $500 million to more than $44 billion. This sector is also particularly stable, as agencies and departments have been often known to renew contracts with businesses that already understand the regulations, as long the quality of the product or service remains valuable to the government.
But if B2G relationships are relatively stable, why do contractors market to the government? Put another way, have you ever wondered why large companies like Boeing bother uploading YouTube videos showcasing the latest aircraft? Or why Northrop Grumman spent millions of dollars airing a commercial for a stealth fighter plane during the Superbowl?
It’s unlikely that the average Joe found the 30-second Northrop Grumman commercial compelling enough for him to purchase a personal stealth bomber, so what’s the big idea?
The takeaway is this: if large multibillion-dollar defense contractors feel the need to market themselves to the federal government, even during military conflicts when their products and services are of greatest necessity, then there is no reason why smaller and medium-sized B2B and B2C should skip out on developing a proper content marketing strategy.
Despite relatively stable business partnerships, even corporations like Raytheon and General Electric push out content marketing strategies that include video marketing campaigns, updating blogs, sending out eNewsletters, writing case studies, and creating infographics.
Here are 5 ways that companies are taking advantage of content marketing to cater to the interests of the government and civilian world, and what businesses can learn from them.
Online newsletters, or eNewsletters, are electronically distributed emails to those who opt-in for regular updates on company products, services, developments, articles, blog posts, etc., with links back to the company’s website to find out more.
With the advent of interactive social media, many businesses have questioned the effectiveness of email marketing. A study by the Nielsen Norman group showed that newsletters served to grow or retain a vendor’s reputation or to maintain relationships.
Contractors get this, and have made distributed newsletters in order to provide officials in various government departments information regarding recent developments and other news, even during dry spells when departments are not given as much funding for the fiscal year.
Need inspiration? Take a look at VitalSmarts, a private business services company that provides corporate training and organizational performance services. In addition to providing training and education services to many other businesses facing problems, according to USASpending.gov, the company also performed over 290 contracts for more than $5 million, each contract averaging about $17, 350.
The company’s home page allows anyone to quickly navigate and check out the newsletters that the company sends weekly. The particular experiences contractors have when marketing to the federal government reveal that building brand recognition and maintaining brand loyalty is not negligible. If contractors must invest in sending regular updates to clients even in a market with strong barriers to entry, your business should too.
Helpful tip: Make your online newsletter subscription easy to find and archive your past newsletters in order to allow users to see what you push on a regular basis. Storing your previous newsletters in a separate part of your website can help improve your SEO by making your content searchable online.
The case for businesses blogs has been made time and time again, as more and more research uncovers how fresh content can. A previous post explains the numerous benefits of businesses having their own blog. To summarize some of the highlights: a blog can help generate more traffic, convert leads, establish credibility, improve SEO, and build long-term brand recognition.
While there are 31% more bloggers today than there were three years ago, many businesses still do not actively create content for their blogs.
Need inspiration? See some of the content published daily on General Electric (GE), a company that provides a multitude of different products and services and has contracted with the government to provide things such as electrical appliances; aviation, transportation, and engineering equipment; etc. GE Reports is the company’s online blogging vessel, which is an online magazine published by GE. Though it technically operates as a magazine, the type of content found on the site is no different than from what a business blog would write about.
Helpful tip: The intersection of visuals and content can be attractive to your readers. Aside from content, try accompanying your posts with some visually appealing images, as it will help you attain more traffic and clicks. Also try to include a section where you offer interested readers the ability to subscribe for daily, weekly, or monthly updates if they opt in for the newsletter.
Case studies are a great way to give your potential clients a taste of the type of service and product you provide. Beyond that, case studies help the clients picture themselves in the position of receiving the product or service you provide, and the steps you take in order to help the client relieve a problem that they have.
In essence, it’s a great way for you to provide a mental simulation of your business’s thought process. How do you approach customers, or perhaps more importantly, why do customers approach you. What was the problem the customer had in your case study? Did you exceed what you were expected to do with your product or service? Did you “wow” your customer? How?
These are all questions you can answer in your case studies in order to sway your customers to seek you for your expertise.
Need inspiration? Check out Lockheed Martin, the biggest defense contractor providing services and products including aerospace equipment, information security, defense, and other advanced technologies. Despite consistently securing the most contracts with the Department of Defense, the company still provides case studies in order to inform clients about the company’s expertise in the security and defense domain and its thought leadership.
Helpful tip: Notice how the case studies in Lockheed Martin’s website are clearly accessible via the resources tab, allowing any of the company’s clients to see previous work the company has provided. Many companies with case studies do not have a dedicated page where customers can access them. Having disorganized resources for potential clients is as good as not having provided any resources. Make sure that your clients can access your resources while they are poking around your site.
According to Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey, a minute of video is equivalent to 1.8 million words. Do you have time to write 1.8 million words? Furthermore, do you think anyone else had time to read those 1.8 million words? In the era we live in now, being able to gather information in a relatively short amount of time is highly valuable. So why not make videos?
Many defense contractors like to use videos in order to gain popular support from the public. Remember the Northrop Grumman’s Superbowl ad video referred to earlier in this post? Many defense contractors think airing engaging and valuable videos will help sway representatives to vote on funding bills with little backlash from the public, as long as the videos help brand the company in a favorable way. This is something ordinary businesses can learn from contractors.
In essence, videos help construct and reconstruct a company’s brand name recognition. In the age of mass media, this is surely one of the most effective and efficient ways to help build positive public perception of your business.
Need inspiration? Browse through some of the videos uploaded by SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and contractor to agencies like NASA. SpaceX has spearheaded the private sector’s charge towards rocket science, and has been keen on ensuring everyone can see the progress the company has made. Take a look at the simple flight test that the company shot and uploaded onto YouTube, garnering more than 4 million views.
Helpful tip: Take a look at some of the other video campaigns that have been successful in the past. What you will notice is consistency and quality. You need to ensure your videos are consistent and fresh but also creative and valuable to your viewers. BlendTec’s YouTube videos have garnered national attention, as the company was able to pique the public’s interest for doing something as simple and silly as blending an iPhone on a weekly basis. Make your videos informative, funny, thoughtfully provocative, exciting, or visually appealing, or a combination of all of those features, and include them on some of your online newsletters.
The true power of an infographics is similar to that of video campaigns: presenting lots of information in a visually appealing manner. Many businesses might believe that this marketing tool is not worth the time or investment, but it is a vital way that even the largest contractors and companies have incorporated as part of their blogging and social media strategy.
One of the most attractive features of infographics is that it is informative and broadly relevant to those who want to digest information through a visually appealing medium. Infographics spread through social media like Facebook and Twitter because they inform but also because they attract people’s attention, which is why many companies keen on building brand name recognition invest resources outsourcing or creating their own infographics.
Need inspiration? Check out some of the content that pharmaceutical contractor McKesson Corporation creates and features on its blog. One of the best things about creating infographics is the ability for the image to be embedded on other sites. Doing so allows others to share your infographic, especially if it is valuable and informative. The below infographic is an example of one of the infographics produced by the health services company, and you can see how the graphic is published on the blog and accompanied by written content in order to give extra context.
Helpful hint: Remember that you infographics can be valuable as part of your blogging and social media strategies, but they should trace back to you. Try incorporating the infographic as part of a longer blog post that can be found on your featured blog posts page so users can navigate, search, and find it if they wanted to refer back to it in a later time. If you lack design skills or don’t know how to start, check out a previous HubSpot post that guides you in the planning and creating process of infographics.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: What B2B/B2C Businesses Can Learn From B2G Content Marketing Strategies
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