We are in a transition period between virtual and in-person events as we adjust to a world learning to live with COVID-19. This month, we offer a brief discussion of marketing tips for both virtual and in-person events to help you succeed in the government marketplace during this transition.
Let’s say you have attended the DTRA Virtual Industry Day, the Cadence Event, Doing Business with the Department of the Interior, or any of the other events listed on Norcal PTAC’s website calendar. Then you followed up with your contacts and are in the process of establishing some great relationships. Now what? What can you do to continue the momentum? How do you continue to build your relationships and business at the same exciting rate that you experienced during our Norcal PTAC events?
Here are several suggestions which might help:
- Put in the time and effort. You are not going to build great relationships sitting in your office or at your job and attending a couple of good events a year. Relationships require commitment and constant attention, as any of your business processes do. This can be accomplished virtually and in person.
- Establish a marketing plan. Decide who, what agencies, and which conferences you will attend for the next year. What is your end goal? Ask for help along the way. Asking someone (your PTAC counselor) to review your marketing plan will inevitably lead to more contacts, suggestions, etc. to add to your plan.
- Become an expert in one area of your industry. Chances are that if you own a business, you are already close to becoming an expert.
- Prepare to speak in person. Speaking in public is the number one fear for most people on the planet. Use this to your advantage. Attend a Toastmasters Meeting, work with your local PTAC, and check out the National Speakers Association. There are many venues where you can learn public speaking in a safe place with encouragement.
- Make new connections. Take your expert status and improved public speaking skills and volunteer for panels, presentations, and industry talks. Many organizations are looking for presenters on a variety of subjects. Start with your Chamber of Commerce or local Business Bureau. You will become known in your industry as being comfortable talking in front of a group, and your opportunities and audience will grow. This can also be done virtually. There is a multitude of opportunities for in-person and virtual speakers.
- Be active in your community. Write a column for your local business journal or industry publication. Become a local sponsor – and this does not have to involve thousands of dollars. Just a small amount to get your company name out there will help and can have amazing results. Again, it is all about getting your name out there for people to see.
- Remember to keep all this manageable. You do not have to speak in front of large groups to obtain a return on investment on the pain of learning and practicing speaking well in public settings. Strategically plan and start small with known groups in your industry. Start on a panel so you are not the only person on stage. Individuals who can manage public speaking comfortably are in high demand.
Now that you have become an active part of your business community, how do you begin to make those connections work for you? Do you offer your capability statements or business cards? Here are some tips to help you readjust to in-person events and how to use business cards at networking events
- Don’t undersell. Do not use your business card to speak for you – use your leadership abilities and project yourself as the leader of your company without being pretentious.
- Don’t oversell. Do not hurry to give your business card out – especially to someone you have just met. This action can make people feel you are desperate to sell to them, especially at a conference.
- Manage your expectations. Giving out 100 business cards does not mean you have had a successful outreach event. It does not mean you have made 100 contacts. In fact, you may have lost many of those potential contacts. Wait until there is a reason to give your card and ask for the other individual’s card at the same time. This will help to establish the beginning of the relationship. Agree to the method of follow-up (phone call, email, meeting) and make sure you honor the commitment.
- Be ready. Keep your cards easily accessible in a cardholder, so the card you hand out is not a mess. “Sorry, it’s wrinkled, the last one I have, and let me clean that little bit of gum off” does not represent yourself or your company well.
- Don’t forget about your capability statement! Ask your new contact if they prefer your business card, your capability statement, or both.
These are just a few suggestions intended to spark some thought about different methods of connecting and marketing. And it does not matter if you do this in person or virtually.
The Government marketplace is always changing – people come and go, regulations change, processes and requirements are updated. Norcal PTAC is a wonderful resource to help you stay current on issues and regulations, and for locating opportunities to help grow your business. Here are a few suggestions to help you gain the most from the services that we have to offer:
- Keep your contact information current. Make sure you have an up-to-date telephone number and email so we can reach out to you in a timely manner with events, training, changes, and opportunities. You can update your info with us by giving us a call at (707)267-5761
- Meet with your PTAC counselor on a regular basis. Even if everything is going well and you have an abundance of work, check in with us to let us know those contracts you have won, and we are happy to provide a routine check-in to help you keep moving forward.
- Check our website for classes and events. We offer a multitude of virtual training sessions by our counselors and other individuals who partner with us. Some of these sessions by prime contractors looking for small businesses can lead to potential work.
- Take the time to read our newsletters. We provide valuable tips and the latest trends on staying compliant as opportunities and regulations change.
Did you know your PTAC Counselor can help you review your marketing content such as Capability Statement, business cards, and your website? Before you go to a virtual or in-person tradeshow, it might be a clever idea to schedule a marketing review meeting with your counselor. We can help you develop your marketing skills, elevator speech, and documents in a safe environment. And we always have amazing classes, webinars, and counselors to help you on your journey.
Mary Jo Juarez, Norcal PTAC Procurement Specialist