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July 12, 2013 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
Brett Housholder, Wyoming Entrepreneur PTAC program manager
“I’m interested in government contracting and have registered in all the required places, but now I need to figure out how to actually market my business to government agencies. Where do I start?” Mike, Casper
Meeting all the initial requirements to do business with the government, such as obtaining a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number and registering in the System for Award Management (SAM), is only the first step a business owner must take to win a government contract.
After taking care of those tasks, business owners then have to figure out how to actually market their products or services to government agencies. The first step in that process should be filling out a Dynamic Small Business Search Profile (also referred to as an SBA Profile).
The Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) website (http://dsbs.sba.gov/dsbs/search/dsp_dsbs.cfm) is a tool that government agencies use to find prospective businesses to bid on contracts. When a solicitation has an anticipated total value of less than $25,000, a government agency doesn’t have to advertise it publicly.
Rather, the agency can use the DSBS website to search for the type of business it needs and choose a handful of companies to bid from the list it sees after it enters the search criteria. Agencies can search by geographic location, NAICS codes, keywords, and numerous other criteria.
An owner can fill out its DSBS Profile as part of the SAM registration process. However, because completing this profile isn’t mandatory to register in SAM, it’s tempting for businesses to skip this step. Business owners who don’t complete the DSBS Profile, though, are missing a huge opportunity to market their businesses to government agencies.
For example, when an agency searches on the DSBS site, it sees a list of results that includes basic contact information and a Capabilities Narrative. This Capabilities Narrative is a vital piece of a business’s effort to market to the government. If the Capabilities Narrative doesn’t catch the agency's attention (or, even worse, is blank), it will move onto a business that has a more effective narrative.
Things to focus on in the Capabilities Narrative include: your experience in your industry, any past contract work you may have completed (whether government or private work), and a list of the core products or services you provide.
The Wyoming Entrepreneur PTAC can assist businesses in drafting a Capabilities Narrative that can also be used as part of “physical” marketing materials like brochures that can be given to government agency representatives at matchmaking events such as the annual GRO-Biz Conference and Idea Expo. For more information, contact Brett Housholder at (307) 259-7931.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email email@example.com or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.