Three growth tactics for small contractors Johnny

Small businesses have limited resources, so how do you leverage your time, money and staff for the most impact?

As a small business you have limited resources: time, money, staff. How do you leverage those resources for the most impact?

Here are three things that you can do with minimal monetary expense, yet each will yield tangible results. Leveraged together, they can lead to rapid growth.

Association Involvement

This is a relationship driven market, period. Where and how you build your relationships is a major factor in developing a presence in the market and growing your company.

There are numerous associations and special interest groups in GovCon, from the big ones like AFCEA, ACT-IAC PSC, NDIA and others, to specialized groups that are off the radar of most, groups like the NASA Goddard Contractors Group, a very private group of CEOs of NSA contractors (this group was once known by the name of the founder, Tony Ward).

Deciding which association to join may take a little research, but once you’ve chosen, get involved by volunteering. If the right people and companies are in the one you’ve chosen, your volunteer activity will raise your visibility to the membership.

Each association in our market has different attributes so choose carefully. If you are already a member of one, but are not getting traction, either try harder by volunteering or try another association.

The major associations have tiered membership fees, so smaller companies can join at reduced rates.

Set some milestones for your association involvement: for example partnerships, contract and subcontract opportunities, market intelligence and more.

Deeper and stronger differentiation

Many smaller companies in our market think they have successfully differentiated themselves by saying “We do cyber” or “we do cloud.”

True differentiation is multi-faceted, especially for smaller contractors.

What aspect of cyber does your company focus on: network security, application security, endpoint security, data security, identity and access management, cyber threat intelligence- the list goes on. 

Claiming you do “cyber” has become nebulous, so take a deeper dive.

Overlay your claim by highlighting key staff, your subject matter experts (SMEs) and their content. 

If you focus on specific agencies, say so.

Your size and socio-economic status can play a supporting role as well.

The more you differentiate, the easier the choice becomes for those reviewing your offer. Jack Trout called it the “tyranny of choice” when too many companies claimed the same space with little or no differentiation.

You are battling hundreds of companies for mindshare, and without adequate differentiation you will get little or no traction. 

Identify your area of expertise, then substantiate that position with content and past performance.

Creating a strategy to more fully utilize LinkedIn

As I mentioned above, this is a relationship driven market. Today instead of a rolodex (google it!) we have LinkedIn. My annual census of Feds on LinkedIn will be out in a few weeks, Last year (January, 2023), I found over 530 company pages for Federal departments, agencies, operating divisions and offices, representing over 2.72 million feds on LinkedIn, including civilian agencies, DoD, the IC, and the uniformed services.

For my next census (already underway) there are over 600 company pages for me to research. The federal government is well represented on LinkedIn, and the contracting community is here as well.

Most use LinkedIn in what I consider to be a passive mode, collecting connections and occasionally posting content. Even those with paid accounts, like Sales Navigator, often underutilize the tool. There are many things you can and should be doing even without a paid membership.  It remains grossly underutilized by many.

LinkedIn should be integrated into your overall growth and business development strategy. It is an amazing tool for ABM (agency-based marketing), content distribution, positioning and branding, vetting companies and individuals, recruiting, building a SME position and highlighting your SMEs, and so much more.

Nearly everyone involved in GovCon is on LinkedIn, so it is time to up your game and integrate it into your overall strategy.

These tactics will not unduly tap into your limited resources. Done well and in tandem, these activities will yield impactful results for your company.

Mark Amtower is a GovCon marketing consultant specializing in LinkedIn and helping contractors differentiate. Find him on LinkedIn.