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How to Market to the Government

“Government is a massive consumer of goods and services at every level.”

Does your sales strategy include local, state and federal governments? If not, you may be missing out on a valuable market segment.

Government is a massive consumer of goods and services at every level. According to Daniel Telep, a procurement analyst with the Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University, “The current federal budget is about $3.8 trillion a year, and the state of Florida budgets $77 million to support 20 million people. Florida’s 67 counties also spend millions, and much of it is set aside for small businesses.”

Telep says he’s never encountered a business whose product or service couldn’t be marketed to at least one government entity. Telep has helped more than 40 businesses get $248 million in contract awards over the last 14 years, and he has lots of advice for entrepreneurs who want to begin a government marketing program.

Get Registered

The first step to a lucrative government contract is to properly register your business so you can bid on projects when they become available. “Government agencies only want to do business with legal entities that have official bank accounts,” says Telep. For most businesses, that means having a Dun & Bradstreet number (fedgov.dnb.com/webform), a federal tax ID number, a county business license and a business checking account.

You should also visit census.gov and look up the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes for the products and services you offer. Then you’re ready to register at sam.gov, which is rapidly becoming a single centralized site for all federal procurement activity. The Florida state marketplace site is MyFloridaMarketplace.com, and each local and county government will have its own site as well.

Do Your Homework

Before you bid on any contracts, familiarize yourself with the pricing regulations that apply to the level of government you’re targeting. The Federal Acquisition Regulations for Commercial Items are online at www.acquisition.gov/far. Pay particular attention to “Subpart 15.4—Contract Pricing,” which spells out how to price your product for federal consumers. You’ll need to know your overhead costs and a few other specifics to prepare proposals.

Watch for Opportunities

When you are ready to start bidding on federal contracts, watch FBO.gov for opportunity listings. The site is updated daily and offers thousands of possibilities. MyFloridaMarketplace.com is the central resource for Florida state contracting.

Take Advantage of Your Local PTAC

Telep’s office at Florida Gulf Coast University is a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). PTACs are available in all 50 states, with a mission of expanding the number of businesses that can participate in the government marketplace. The PTAC office will help you with every step of the process at no charge. Call them at (239) 745-3708 or visit them at fsbdcswfl.org.

Adding government contracts to your business model may seem daunting at first, but lots of information and assistance are available, both online and locally. Perhaps it’s time to consider broadening your market.

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