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January 17, 2014 — 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.
By Brett Housholder, Wyoming Entrepreneur program manager
“I want to market my business to a government agency, but I can never seem to reach them through phone or email. Aside from marketing online, how can I actually talk to these agencies about my business?” John, Cheyenne
Of all the challenges in government contracting, perhaps the biggest is just letting agencies know about what you do.
Even though the online option, Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Dynamic Small Business Search website, is a vital and extremely helpful marketing tool, there must be other ways to get the word out about your interest in government contracts. But even if you can find the right person within an agency to call or email, those messages will often go unreturned. So, what other choices do you have?
The best way to learn about opportunities to sell to the government is through matchmaking events. These events are usually sponsored by programs like the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and the SBA and are excellent opportunity to meet with contracting staff from various government agencies in the area. Events are held throughout the year in different parts of the state.
At matchmaking events, agencies send contracting staff to meet one on one with business owners to discuss what the business sells and what and how the agency buys goods and services. It’s a very powerful opportunity to sit down with the procurement decision-makers and talk about your strengths as a business.
The biggest such event each year is the GRO-Biz Conference and Idea Expo. This year’s event is in Cheyenne at Little America Feb. 18-20. It features breakout sessions on topics related to both government contracting and general business strategy, as well as plenty of networking time with the largest group of government agency representatives assembled each year at any networking event in the state. More information can be found at www.regonline.com/2014grobizidea.
To be successful at matchmaking events, come prepared. Have a capabilities statement prepared, which is a one-page summary of your products or services offered, strengths, experience and relevant contact information. When you meet with an agency representative, be prepared to quickly summarize what you do, why you’re good at it and what you do that sets you apart from competitors.
There are plenty of ways to market a business these days, but there’s still no substitute for a handshake and a one-on-one conversation with the people who will be making the final decision on whether to buy from you. If you take advantage of matchmaking events offered in your area and attend them with the proper tools and the right attitude, you can get a good head start on your competitors in government contracting.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.
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.