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Amtower on Selling to the Government

Companion site for the book, Selling to the Government. Amtower covers and comments on all things regarding doing business with the government: selling to the government, B2G marketing, Gov 2.0, government sales and contracting, GSA Scedules, events, publ

Last Build Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2018 10:05:53 +0000


Five reasons why LinkedIn should be one of your primary B2G marketing tools

Sun, 07 Jan 2018 17:18:00 +0000

LinkedIn has become become an integral part of the GovCon ecosystem, inserting itself seemlessly into our everyday activities.While nearly everyone uses LinkedIn to some degree, only a small percentage use it effectively. It is now common practice for virtually everyone in our market to vet people by looking at their LinkedIn profiles, checking out shared connections and groups, and taking a quick look at their previous positions.Still, that small percentage take it to a higher level.Here are a few things you should know so you can take better advantage of what LinkedIn offers.1) Your audience is here. There are over 1.7 million Feds on LinkedIn: 15%+ with IT titles; 40%+ with management, program or project management titles; and 5%+with senior management tiles.\2) It's affordable- it fits ANY budget. There are many things you can do on LinkedIn that don't cost anything.3) It is a great content and news sharing venue. You can blog (post) on LinkedIn, share articles from other sources, post them in your groups, send them directly to key influencers, and more.4) You can develop SME platforms. If you or someone on your team is a legitimate SME, their profile can (and should) reflect this area of expertise in several ways.5) It's easy to expand your reach with current accounts (ABM). If your business focuses on one or just a few agencies, you can develop an agency-focused marketing program using LinkedIn.As the GovCon universe continues to evolve, especially in these turbulent times, it is important to use all of the available tools to position your company for stability and growth.If you are interested in seeing how LinkedIn can help you and your company, drop me a line-[...]

My Top Articles, LinkedIn & Blog Posts from 2017

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 18:43:00 +0000

I write every day. In 2017, I published 50 newsletters, 15 blog posts, 12 articles on , and 8 posts on LinkedIn. And as many of you know, I also host a weekly show on  In 2015 I started listing my top LinkedIn posts for the previous year. I did this based on views. As I am writing less frequently on LinkedIn (see the reason below), I am including my WashTech articles and my blog posts in my list for 2017.I have selected the top five from my blog and WashTech, and four from LinkedIn, each source listed separately and by date published.I have included a short recap for each. When you have time, I hope you will take a look at a few.Top five 2017 posts from my blog-   (3/7/17; 1.058 views). Small, focused events have replaced the larger, expensive conferences in the government community. return of my Off-White papers. 2nd of 2 posts on GWACs; 3/4/71; 2,121 views). Why GWACs and other IDIQs have become more important and hotly contested. GovCon VAD wars just got more interesting; 5/3/17; 820 views). Why Art richer moving to DLT is important event for channel players in GovCon. An under-reported event.  (6/4/17, 2,680 views). LinkedIn and social selling have become part of the GovCon ecosystem, and why those not utilizing social selling are missing out. (8/27/17; 2,991 views). Oddly enough, my most viewed post from 2017 was an advertisement for my small biz marketing program.My Top Five 2017 Articles from WashTech  (1/31/17). The difference between goals and strategy in GovCon, and the importance of setting attainable goals. Sever myths that persist in the GovCon arena for those new to the market and a warning to be aware! Five tactics to help any company grow marktshare. Five steps to launching an agency/account-based program. A look back over my 33 years in the GovCon market with a few observations.My top 2017 LinkedIn postsI write less frequently on LinkedIn for a couple reasons, the main one being LinkedIn’s algorithms favor selected types of content.  Here’s the post that explains it: (, I still post on LinkedIn, occasionally recapping what I have written on my blog or at WashTech.Here are my top 4 posts from 2017, in chronological order. What do you want people to do after they look at your LinkedIn profile? If you don’t indicate an action, they will move on.  (7/11/17). My second version of this topic drives a simple message: being on LinkedIn in any capacity is marketing for yourself and your company. Your choice is do you look good, bad or just plain ugly… This has a link to a video interview on thought leadership. I recorded this as part of Mitchell Levy’s Thought Leader Lif[...]

Looking Backward at 33 years in GovCon . . . and counting

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 20:16:00 +0000

Career Highlights TimelineObservations and lessons learned(This is a continuation and the background for my article at WashTech). I am a marketing guy who happens to specialize in B2G marketing. I watch the market closely, comment on it frequently, often sharing ideas that may not be popular, sometimes stating things many may think but don't have the venue to say.The freedom to write and say many things has garnered me attention well beyond marketing. I'd be lying if I said i did not enjoy the attention, but it comes with a self-imposed responsibility. I strive be be accurate, able to support my positions. I work hard at not being mean and taking cheap shots, except occasionally at Congress. And I try very hard to be open-minded, to be able to alter an opinion or acknowledge when I am wrong.As a marketing guy I have had more than my "fair share" of publicity, but I work hard to stay on the radar.So how did I get here? This is the timeline.  There are lessons learned from each decade at the end.Late 1984: get tired of working for other people; Ronald Reagan is president.1985-2004: The Direct Marketing & Big GovCon Show EraJan 1985: I open Amtower & Co. Our original niche was compiling small databases of key feds: IRMs (old name for CIO), CFOs, Procurement execs, Program managers, trainers. We sold these in a dbase program which generated mail labels. I started getting information from government mail managers and address requirements.1986: Lynn Bateman becomes my unofficial mentor1988: a list client calls, and after a lengthy chat, at the end she says “What’s great about talking to you is you never send a bill…”  The consulting side of Amtower & Co is born.1988-1991: co-founded Assn of Mailers to the Federal Government with John Long of Federal Computer Week. We represented the top mailers (catalogs and business pubs) going into federal agencies. It was the first time the government trade publications acted in concert, making certain the magazines and (hopefully) other mail got through the labyrinth.We started meeting with the Committee on Mail Policy (fed mail mgrs) and discussing deliverability issues. Also started going on tours of various federal mailrooms, including the Pentagon. AMFG merged with the Direct Marketing Assn of Washington in 1991.1988: I attend my first Federal Sources OUTLOOK and am awed by those attending- a veritable “who’s who” of the market. I met Tom Hewitt.1988: IMPAC charge card pilot program at DOC1988: George HW Bush elected president1989: IMPAC card program rolls out; $9 million in year 11989: first article in a trade publication- Circulation Management, first of over 300 articles in over 30 business publications1990: first public speaking gig to a group of Canadian companies that want to do business with the US Federal govt. I said "uh" frequently and made little eye contact.1990-??: There was at least one major GovCon trade show each quarter, sometimes more. FOSE was always the biggie, reaching a high of over 60,000 attenders. ComNet, Federal Computer Conference, TechNet and more.1990-1991: start getting involved in associations; FGIPC (now ACT/IAC) and IAC, AFFIRM1991 (Jan): first Amtower & Co public seminar, “Direct Marketing to the Government” – over 80 people attend the morning an ice storm hits town.1991: met with my first GovCon CEO, Dendy Young of Falcon Microsystems. This occurred because Carol May (of FCW) told me my target client should be CEOs, not MarComs.1992: Bill Clinton elected president.1992:  Married Mary Ellen June 27. Spoke at the GSA CASU conference in the middle of our honeymoon in Charleston, SC.1992-1994: founded and produced The Government Marketing Services Conference and Expo (my attempt to run a major event. We took over the McLean Hilton ballroom and all meeting rooms for a full day – 3 years. I discovered that I should not manage conferences.1992-1994: member, FOSE B[...]

Three Common LinkedIn Mistakes

Wed, 08 Nov 2017 19:08:00 +0000

LinkedIn is the #1 venue where business professionals are vetted. That first impression your profile makes can either lead to more business, or to being passed by without a second glance.In many instances, it is your first chance to gain credibility for yourself and your company.There are several tactics to get more people to view and read your LinkedIn profile. These are often overlooked because too little time and planning has gone into the profile development. Here are a few things for you to consider. The first mistake is the photo - a picture of you. LinkedIn has been pretty consistent over the past several years saying that profiles with photos are viewed 11x more than those without. A professional head shot is always best, business attire with you smiling. Avoid photos of pets, boats, group shots (which one is you?) and stick to the basics. Selfies don't cut it, nor do bar, wedding or party pics. Be professional. The second mistake is not using the background (banner) area, the space behind your head shot.  Here you have several options, including your company logo, a company "team" photo (depending on the size of your company), a word cloud displaying the areas of expertise you and your company bring to the market, or in my case, a photo of me speaking at an industry event. The default is something you see frequently: the pale blue background with the dots being connected.The background/banner area is great, free advertising space that is grossly underutilized on LinkedIn. The third mistake is the headline, the line under your photo. Too many people have the default, which is your current job title.Unless you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, your headline should convey more than a nebulous job title. Tell people what you do and who you do it for. If your company sells cybersecurity tools or services and you are the marketing manager, why not say "Cyvbersecurity Brand Strategist" instead of "Marketing Manager"? If you sell trade show give-aways, you are a "Corporate Brand Ambassador", not a trinket merchant.Each of these areas is on your opening screen shot. When someone pops in to view your profile, and each tactic will lay a role in determining if your profile visitor stays to read a little more, or moves quickly to the the next profile. Developed with careful planning and used properly, these three tactics will make your profile stand out from your competitors. I welcome your feedback.[...]

That was the week that was...

Sun, 15 Oct 2017 15:52:00 +0000

I really don't get out much, even though I preach that networking and relationships are key in our market. You will see and hear this on my radio show, in my books, articles and blog posts.And it's true- this is a relationship-driven market.This past week, October 9 through October 13, was an exception  for me, and it illustrates why we- you and I - need to get out more.Monday at 7 AM I got the newsletter out, and had a few client calls during the day. I also worked on LinkedIn for GovCon, my next book. And I walked 5 miles.Tuesday I was out the door at 6 AM heading downtown to 1101 K Street, Bloomberg Government HQ, for an Army budget briefing coinciding with the AUSA conference. Good information, good networking, and ideas and guests for two upcoming radio shows.Three of my main criteria for me going to an event of any kind are:    - who is the producer?    - will there be good information?    - will there be good networking/BGov delivered on all counts.Several client calls during the day back in my home office in Columbia MD. I got in a 2 mile walk.Then out the door again at 3 PM to go to the 20th anniversary party of SpeakerBox, one of my favorite PR firms. I've known Elizabeth Shea for a long time and I do not make an afternoon rush hour appearance in Virginia often. Though the 2 hour return drive to Columbia was not fun, I would do it again for Shea.Once again, great networking.Wednesday I was out the door before 6 AM again on my way to the Renaissance on 9th Street for the Washington Technology HHS IT briefing. I attended this last year and once again Nick Wakeman and WT delivered solid information with presenters, panels, and great networking.I got in a 3 mile walk that afternoon.Thursday I slept late (6 AM), walked 5 miles and had lunch with a guy I met through LinkedIn, Vincent Goldsmith. Although we live maybe 10 miles (max) apart and have been connected on LinkedIn for nearly 7 years, we had never met.I found Vincent's profile when I was doing research for a company that wanted to do business with CMS.  Nearly every person I found was connected to Vincent, whose headline reads: "CMS Program and Capture Management - feel free to connect with me. I'm looking to expand my CMS network." Need to explore CMS? Vincent is your guy.I have used (with permission) Vincent's profile in several of my LinkedIn training classes and it will be featured in my next two books (I'm doing one on building a subject matter expert platform, too, and Vincent is definitely a CMS SME).I had a few client calls and wrote for a few hours.Friday I was out the door once again before 6 AM heading for Reston and the 2017 GAIN conference. This was the 2nd annual Government Marketing University conference and I was the first speaker after the keynote.Speaking after a keynote can be an iffy proposition. If the keynoter knocks it out of the park, you have a hard act to follow.Sales guru John Asher keynoted and was quite good. I will let those who attended judge my performance, but lots of people asked for my slides - always a good sign. During my presentation  I was able to reference information I picked up at BGov, WashTech, and I talked about Vincent. I love when a week comes together like that!This event surpassed my event criteria and would be worthwhile for every marketer in the public sector:    - producer has credentials and track record    - event provided great information    - networking was second to noneI saw lots of people I don't see often, met several new people, and enjoyed each presentation. And I got to speak!Need to find some events to attend? Take a look at GovEvents, Kerry Rea's great web site. Kerry and GovEvents were at GAIN and I don't get to see her often enough.And I kept seeing Larry Rosenfeld...maybe it was something I ate.This week I am speaking at 2 private events, one for CEOs[...]

FY 18 is here: Are you a small contractor in need of some advice and direction?

Sun, 27 Aug 2017 18:52:00 +0000

Amtower GovCon Advisory Program  2018 will be challenging: definitely another continuing resolution, possible a shutdown, further changes in agency programs and policies, additional changes in procurement policy, and more. These will impact small businesses in a big way, so be prepared.Leveraging your current contracts, especially direct or indirect access to MACs, IDIQs and GWACs can help you weather this storm. I expect agency use of  IDIQs and GWACs to continue to grow through 2018. Your access as a prime or partner on these contracts can be critical.But you need a plan.If your company is not performing up to expectations, or if you feel that your marketing program is not paying adequate dividends, we should talk.My guidance to client companies has helped hundreds of companies grow. My advice can save you time and money, lead to new opportunities, identifiy key differentiators leading to significant market share, create media coverage, and generally help companies establish a more viable presence in the government market. I have helped my clients to dramatically increase the dollar value of their contracts, often spending less on marketing.If your marketing and business development efforts are not paying significant dividends, we should talk now.Friends, clients and former clients have suggested I develop a program that offers advice over an entire FY, so I am offering a year-long GovCon Advisory Program. Rather than charge an hourly fee to companies tapping into my expertise on a semi-regular basis, I have created an advisory program that small companies can afford.The Amtower GovCon Advisory Program includes                 - An initial planning session defining goals that align with your current needs. This will provide the overall program guidance for the year, including developing a targeted visibility plan that makes the most sense for you and your company. We can make alterations along the way as necessary;            - A detailed web site review with recommendations;              - A LinkedIn company profile review with recommendations or editing;               - Customized monthly training sessions (30-45 minute sessions), content to be determined in the planning session. Training modules offered include LinkedIn training; content development; developing a subject matter expert platform; social selling; PR/media training; market research and more. Each session tailored to the client and all sessions pre-scheduled;              - Email alerts when warranted with news about your niche, competitors and other topics addressed in the planning session. I will monitor Google Alerts and selected trade publications for each participant;            - Monthly update calls with each participant to track progress, address problem areas, discuss opportunities and more;             - Strategic introductions to primes, OEMs, experts, media and government managers;              - Unlimited email and short call Q&A;             - Advice on selecting outside services (events, associations, bidding services, proposal assistance, etc).-       - Access to me for an entire FY.Please call 301 854 9493 or email with any questions or to sign up. We are only accepting eight participants.The program runs from 10/1/17 until 9/30/18. Sign up now and get Sept, 2017 as a bonus month.The investment for this program is $2,495 down, and $995 per month for an annual total of $13,040. Mark Amtower     Amtower & Company   &nbs[...]

IDIQ/GWAC Panel at 930Gov Sept 6

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 18:06:00 +0000

Once again I will be hosting an IDIQ/GWAC panel at 930Gov on September 6 at the Washington DC Convention Center. This has been a lively panel in past years and promises to be informative once again this year. I always enjoy hosting this session.This year my IDIQ panel will have   - Bridget Gauer, NITAAC   - Joanne Woytek, SEWP   - Cheryl Thornton, GSA   - Omar Saeb, AlliantNow in its fifth year, 930Gov is a unique end-of=FY event. It has five tracks covering   - Cyber and IT Security   - Records Management   - IT Modernization   - Government Customer Experience   - Knowledge, Data and Information ManagementThis event always has top-notch sessions and speakers.I hope to see you there- and at this session!Mark Amtower.[...]

Is there real value in measuring your social media activity?

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:33:00 +0000

There are multiple ways to measure your social media engagement, but is there really any value to having a high score beyond bragging rights?LinkedIn added in the Social Selling Index (SSI)when it changed the paid membership format, pushing the most useful functions to the Sales Navigator platform.The SSI measures four factors and only measures within LinkedIn. Each factor has a 25 point scale. The four factors are:-        “Establish your professional brand”-         “Find the right people”-         “Engage and insights”-         “Build relationships”You can make an argument for  including these in an index, but as the exclusive measurements, I think not.First, brands have set components, but the value of each component and how you present it can vary from market to market, and from niche to niche within a market.Second, these do not and cannot factor in the quality of connections you are making and the value of each viewer you are getting.  All profile viewers are not created equal.Third, how you engage goes back to my niche statement above. Certain elements of the Government Contracting community will necessarily do less on public platforms because of the nature of the client and the business associated with that client.Fourthbuilding relationships in this GovCon is predicated on who you need to know: if you are focused on a single agency (account or agency based marketing - ABM) and a specialty area within that agency, your relationship building activity will taper off as you become more pervasive, and your SSI score in this category will probably fall.Are you less successful? No. The SSI is predicated on perpetual activity and growth. While I am in favor of a steady flow of activity, once you maximize the penetration into a specific account or agency, you will level off.Depending on your industry, an average SSI score seems to run between 20-28, which does not seem very high. But factor in how many people do little or nothing on LinkedIn and it makes sense. I see the SSI as a quantity over quality tool, and therefore not as useful as it perhaps could be.Another popular social activity measurement tool is Klout.  Klout measures your social activity on multiple networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, FourSquare, Flickr, Tumblr, Instagram and others), and has multiple touchpoints for each that measure the level of your engagement.There are some other social engagement measuring tools, but many ignore Linkedin and each seems to be limited in some way.While I am a huge fan of LinkedIn, it is the not the only place you need to be active.  LinkedIn still includes Twitter in its “share” function. Why? Because it will lead people back to LinkedIn. It no longer has a Facebook share, and I'm not certain if it ever had Google+. Not having these is myopic on the part of LinkedIn.I found that as I did more writing on my own blog as opposed to writing on LinkedIn (sharing the same way, through groups, Twitter and posting the link on other networks) my Klout score went up, but my SSI went down. My Klout score runs in the low 60s (up from low 50s) and my SSI runs between 71-75 (down from mid-to-high 80s)My issue with Klout is that it measures your activity, but again not necessarily the quality of that activity. It does make up for this by taking into account views, shares and other factors, which LinkedIn barely touches on.The final answer on measuring social engagement must come from you. What are your criteria for success? Have you achieved your goals? Have you met key people and set up meetings? Have you won new business?Neither the SSI, Klout nor any other tool can measure this for [...]

Myopic Management at GSA whacks OASIS

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 13:38:00 +0000

The government often says it wants to operate more like business. Business knows that when the market chooses a particular way of doing business (in this case buying professional services), you push that venue and you reward those in charge for a job well done.It seems GSA wants the market to buy more professional services from the Schedule and less from OASIS, regardless of the success of OASIS, amply demonstrated by the migration of government buyers. The result: a surprise "voluntary" total turnover of the OASIS management team, occurring late Friday, July 22. Remember Nixon’s Saturday night massacre, done late on a Saturday to avoid news cycles?Todd Richard's team is the repository of  OASIS's institutional knowledge. Removing and replacing the team that created the success at OASIS is a poor business decision, driven by myopic management.Are there other factors at play here? Yes- but the bottom line is removing an entire management team- especially in the 4th quarter -  is not, as GSAs Tiffany Hixson wrote, "(As with all programs, personnel changes and departures are) a natural part of professional development and program evolution." No, this is a most unnatural move at a very awkward time.Not that I have an opinion.Read Nick Wakeman's article on this:[...]

Social Selling as an end-of-FY (and year-round) tactic

Sun, 04 Jun 2017 16:07:00 +0000

Social selling: the process of getting and staying on the radar of potential partners and prospects in a positive way via social networks; positioning your company in a manner that makes it stand apart from and above the competition; solidify and expand relationships with existing customers.Social selling is not a hard-sell tool; it is a soft-sell, stay on the radar tool. And it works.It should be a year round process, but it could be especially useful at the end of an FY when your customers and prospects just got their budget approval. Nothing like getting your full budget in the last third of the FY!LinkedIn is ideal for end-of-FY as there are at least 1.6 million Feds on LinkedIn (from my 2016 research), with a significant percentage in management positions. You can find key people by searching for their agencies (listed just like company profiles) and scrolling through the employees. All federal agencies, including the IC, are represented on LinkedIn.Having reviewed all federal agencies on LinkedIn, and having scrolled through thousands of profiles, my empirical research shows that at least 15% of federal employees on LinkedIn have IT-related job titles. About 35% have program, project or general management functions, and between 5-10% have executive level job titles.For any government contractor, this is a gene pool worth looking into.Looking for more business at CMS? Try scrolling through the 3,125 employees on LinkedIn until you see a job title that gets your attention. How about DISA? There are 4,320 employees on LinkedIn.Looking for current or former SEWP employees or contractors? I can find 1,399 LinkedIn members who have SEWP in their description. I found a proposal expert with SEWP experience for a client bidding on SEWP V. Looking for contacts in the systems integration community? GDIT has 14,616 LinkedIn members. CACI taps in at 12,775, and Raytheon at 39,967.The GovCon community, Feds and contractors, are on LinkedIn.However, the vast majority of contractors have a "drive by" mentality when it comes to LinkedIn, using it only when they have a specific inquiry (who is the person that wants to connect, or who is the PM for SEWP at Red River).We all use LinkedIn that way, but the more intelligent companies are using it to map out strategic connection strategies, meet key players, set up meetings, for account/agency-based marketing (ABM), for content sharing and much more.LinkedIn should be a part of your end-of-FY marketing, and part of your year-round sales, marketing and business development efforts.< I offer customized training on Social Selling for GovCon nationwide via webinar. Drop me a line for details -[...]

VAR WARS continues - Art Richer moves to DLT

Wed, 03 May 2017 17:06:00 +0000

Holy guacamole Batman- Art Richer, president of the immixGroup for 18 years (1998-2016) has moved over to competitor DLT Solutions.

In February of 2015, international IT distributor Arrow bought immixGroup . In my LinkedIn post I said this would change the face of GovCon IT products sales over time.  Apparently the current investment bank owner of DLT agrees, at least to a point.

There have been numerous changes at the top levels of DLT over the past few weeks, but I have to say I was surprised to hear that Art Richer, one of the three architects of immixGroup (along with founder Jeff Copeland and Steve Charles) was moving into the top spot at DLT.

There are three major value-added distributors (VAD) in GovCon: Carahsoft (by far the largest), immixGroup (now owned by Arrow), and DLT. While DLT technically was first into this category, they have not experienced significant growth since Craig Abod (founder and CEO of Carahsoft) left in 2004.

Each of these VADs represents a suite of OEMs in the GovCon arena. Each has a good array of contracts (IDIQs, GWACs, BPAs and GSA) and each sells direct to Feds (and SLED) as well as working with other resellers in the channel.

So here's my take on why DLT has hired Art.

1) The owners are tired of being third in a three-horse race. Art is arguably the most talented person available and if anyone can spur growth, he's the one.

2) LPTA has made the channel tough for everyone, Each of the VADs has to work closer and more productively with OEMs and VARs to make this model profitable. I think Art will expand DLTs influence with the VARs.

3) There are other international distributors out there (Ingram Micro, TechData, Synnex and others) who are paying close attention to this as it develops.

Is Art at DLT to grow the business, sell the business, or both?

It makes me wonder why Arrow let Art go....

And it makes me wonder if Bob Laclede might end up at DLT as well. He knows the GovCon  VAR community better than anyone I know.

(I do not currently advise any of the companies in this post. These are my thoughts as a market observor.)


Small contractor with an IDIQ not making much $? We need to talk...

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 18:38:00 +0000

Are you a small contractor that has a GSA Schedule, or prime spot on a GWAC or other IDIQ and you are not getting traction?We should talk.Winning business from an IDIQ is part art and part science, but requires planning, execution and making the right decisions.Sometimes you need to make quick decisions and may not have sufficient data or the experience to make the best decision.**When a major GovCon trade conference was announced two years ago, I advised my clients not to participate due to the event's lack of focus. Only one client did not listen and they spent over $35,000, plus time and personnel, in an event that was a three-day total flop. Prep time, staff time, cash spent and three days on-site at the event down the drain.**One of my clients was considering joining a major trade association simply for exposure, and the fee to join was in the mid 4-figures. She brought this up during our regular call and I asked her if she had heard of a small group of contractors that targeted the agency where 80% of her work was performed, primarily as a sub-contractor.  She hadn't but after joining, she developed relationships with other small contractors and a few larger primes, and won more business.The wrong decision can waste time and money.The right adviser can help you make more money from contracts you already have.My advice to client companies has saved time and money, led to extraordinary opportunities, identified key differentiators leading to significant market share, created media coverage, and generally helped companies establish a more viable and profitable presence in the government market. I have helped my clients dramatically increase the dollar value of their contracts, often spending much less on marketing.If your marketing and business development efforts are not paying significant dividends, we should talk.Due to requests and advice from a few friends, clients and former clients, I am offering a year-long GovCon Advisory Program. Rather than charge an hourly fee to companies tapping into my expertise on a semi-regular basis, I have created an advisory program that small companies can afford.The Amtower GovCon Advisory Program includes:- An initial planning session to map out your growth strategy- A detailed review of your web site- Monthly training on social selling techniques leveraging LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook- Strategic introductions to subject matter experts, OEMs, channel partners, other contractors, federal managers, media and others- Low-cost content marketing techniques- Advice on selecting other outside services (events, associations, bidding services and more)- Regular news alerts on your niche- Regularly scheduled teleconferences for advice, updates, tracking progress, address problem areas, discuss opportunities and more- Immediate access to advice from one of the most savvy government marketing professionals -when you need it.Having an experienced government marketing adviser on call can save you money and help you make more money.If this resonates with you and you want complete details, drop me a line NOW as we only have a limited number of openings for this program.   301 854 9493Mark Amtower   Amtower & Company   www.FederalDirect.net    @amtower[...]

Some Thoughts on GWACs: An Amtower Off-White Paper (take 2)

Sun, 05 Mar 2017 02:46:00 +0000

(Updated with a few corrections) Much has been written about GWACs over the past few years, both collectively and as individual contracts. In the fall of 2016, Bloomberg Government (BGov) released a study stating GWACs hit a record $10 billion in 2016. I agree it was a record year, but my tally shows about $15 billion. I got my data from the GSA GWAC dashboard, a call to the SEWP office and from having worked with NITAAC most of FY 2016. GSAs combined GWACs are nearly $6.2 billion, NITAACs 3 GWACs almost $5 billion, and SEWP came in at about $4 billion. Regardless of the actual total, GWAC the dollars and growth are real. Everett Dirkson would be impressed, because now we're talking real money.So overall a good year across the board for the eight GWACs. But before we proceed, here’s…A Brief History of GWACsAs things go in GovCon, GWACs are a relatively new contracting method, the first being SEWP, a pilot GWAC awarded in November 1992, but the awards were delayed due to the Presidential transition until Feb 1993. This was a primarily single award contract, with one category having more than one awardee.It was awarded as the pilot GWAC (a test case) under GSA delegation of procurement authority; Clinger-Cohen created the official Executive Agent designation for GWACs under OMB.The second GWAC came in 1996, the HHS/NIH contract, ECS, was the first multiple-award GWAC that got significant traction for small businesses. ECS was awarded to three large companies, seven small companies and seven 8(a)s, and according the Federal Computer Week from a 1996 article, the smalls did pretty well. SEWP I offered a category for multiple awards, but it was not until SEWP II that the MAC version was more fully implemented.In the late 1990s there were several agencies trying to launch GWAC experiments, including Commerce, Transportation and Interior. They soon found that the successful management of a GWAC was not simple. Commerce punted COMMITS to GSA and to the best of my recollection, the others just folded up and went away.So in the early 2000s, three agencies emerged from the quagmire with viable vehicles: NASA, NIH and GSA.In the summer of 2006 I interviewed Max Peterson about selling to the government. In a four hour CD interview one of many stand-out quotes was as VP of Sales for CWD-G, his team had the “IT product trifecta: SEWP, ECS and GSA Schedule 70.” This, he said, covered all the agency bases. Fast forward to today 25 years later, and there are still only three agencies authorized by OMB to award GWACS: GSA, HHS/NIH (NITAAC), and NASA. GSA contracts are Alliant II, Alliant II Small Business, 8(a) STARS II, and VETS. NITAAC contracts are CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small business, and CIO-CS (formerly ECS). NASAs contract is SEWP V. Eight GWACs and billions of bucks.Back to the PresentWhy the seemingly "sudden" growth in the popularity of GWACs? There are several factors.First, and perhaps most obvious, many of the companies that own prime spots on the GWACs are out there actively pushing these vehicles to their customer and prospect base. The GWACs usually offer lower fees for agencies than the GSA Schedules, are very easy to use, have vetted providers, and have a broad range of products and services. The companies that are most successful on GWACs - even small companies - are aggressive in promoting those GWACs. Just look at the growth of Red River, a top SEWP perfomer over the past several years. Red River is also one of several contractor to hold both SEWP V and CIO-CS.World Wide Technology, a SEWP contractor for 3 iterations and now also on CIO-CS, has leveraged these vehicles very well over the years.Which leads to factor two: OEMs and servic[...]

The Growth of GWACs: An Amtower Off-White Paper*

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 18:16:00 +0000

(updated version here)Let me preface this by saying I am not a contract expert – I am a marketing guy. However, over the last 30+ years I have advised thousands of companies on how to maximize the dollar value of contracts in the federal market. Several of those I have advised became or remain market leaders. My experience marketing GWACs dates back to the mid-1990s when I was an advisor to PRC on the SuperMini contract, the 2nd GWAC ever awarded.Great- that’s out of the way.Multiple award Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQs) are contracts that have no money assigned specifically to the contract, but that are open to audiences defined by the type of contract. GWACs (Government-wide Acquisition Contract), for example, are a type of multiple award IDIQ IT contracts open to all federal agencies, but like GSA/VA Schedules and agency-specific multiple award contracts,  are simply a hunting license.  This paper will focus on GWACs.The companies that win the coveted spots on each of the GWACs are pre-vetted through the award process, technically making them more attractive to all federal buyers. the bidding and award process are vigorous, weeding out the contractors that not ready for prime-time.So- to the point. The dramatic growth for GWACs over recent years has caught the attention of many, making these coveted vehicles even more popular for both the contract holder and the buying agencies.The question is how does the growth occur?There is no question that the NITAAC GWACs growth during the Rob Coen years (2009-2016, and being PM from 2012-2016) was nothing short of spectacular. NITAAC is now under the direction of Acting PM Bridget Gauer with basically the same team, so growth should continue. The three NITAAC GWACs (CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business and CIO-CS) combined for nearly $5 billion in 2016.SEWP, under the guidance of Joanne Woytek for the last 18 years, has always been a great performer and sought after vehicle for contractors. Joanne has the most experience running a GWAC and the SEWP program is deservedly the best known GWAC in the GovCon arena. SEWP had its best year ever in 2016 with nearly $4 billion.Casey Kelley and his Alliant team have another growing GWAC that has introduced has introduced a unique process for awarding contract wins. Alliant and the other GSA GWACs (Alliant II, Alliant II Small Business, 8aSTARS II, VETS2) combined for almost $6 billion in 2016.Each of the GWAC Program Managers works hard for their contracts, but does that lead to the growth?The answer is yes, with a caveat.The caveat is that like the GSA Schedule contracts, the GWACs and other multiple-award IDIQs have super-performers, adequate performers, and not-so-great performers. Companies with well-managed contracts help the GWACs grow.The difference between the top performers and other contract holders comes down to how the program is managed on the contractor side. This includes several factors, among them:-        The relationship between the contractor and the GWAC contract office, the teams on each side, is critical to growth. The government team can show no preference for any contractor, but each GWAC PM and their team is open to working with any contractor to help them be successful. SEWP’s Woytek personally visits each contract holder to ensure they understand the value of the vehicle and how to leverage it. This has been a trademark of SEWP for at least the last two iterations of the contract. Not all contractors take full advantage of this.-        Each GWAC has agencies that prefer their respective vehicles. While technically any agency can buy off any of these contr[...]

LinkedIn Black Belt Workshop returns to Columbia March 7, 2-5PM

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 22:19:00 +0000

If you have the new LinkedIn user Interface, you are probably wondering where some of the functionality disappeared to. This is one of may topics that I'll address int e the March 7 LinkedIn Black Belt Workshop.Seating is limited to the first 18, so register now! If this is your year for LinkedIn, this is your workshop. Only 18 seats per session. Real info from the front lines of LinkedIn - stuff you can use today, tomorrow and going forward.Learn the tactics that make you and your company stand out in your niche.Without a doubt, LinkedIn is the premier social network for business professionals. With over 465 million business professionals and over 11 million individual company profiles, LinkedIn is the place to be found, and to find and connect with influencers in your market niche.However it is estimated that fewer than 20% of LinkedIn members use it effectively, and less than 10% truly maximize the value this powerful tool can bring to you and your company. It is time for you to migrate to LinkedIn power user!LinkedIn has-      465 million+ members-      1.6 million federal managers, IT profiessionals and employees-      Millions of seaches every day are done on LinkedIn-      Almost 12 million company profiles-      Over 3 million groups representing every imaginable business niche-      All Fortune 500 are represented-      YOUR PROSPECTS (they are here)!And you have the opportunity to stand out!Attend the LinkedIn Black Belt Workshop and you will learn how to-      Design a strategy that fits your business goals-      Create a powerful LinkedIn profile that attracts targeted prospects and encourages people to connect with you-      Find and connect with those who can help your business grow- prospects, partners, media and more-      Select the groups that will pay dividends-      Find and develop content to share in those groups that makes you stand out-      Get more recommendations and endorsements-      Get on the radar of decision-makers who buy what you sell-      Develop and defend a “subject matter expert” platform-      Create a company profile that attracts the right people-      Stand out in your market niche-      Q&A  and much more!Questions?  email markamtower@gmail.comRegistration is $195 - and seating is LIMITED!  [...]

Welcome to LinkedIn Lite

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 16:18:00 +0000

Ever try putting together a jigsaw puzzle only to find several key pieces missing?Welcome to LinkedIn Lite - tastes like crap and is less fulfilling of your business needs than ever before.Over the past few years LinkedIn has been removing features that many found useful, including- the Q&A forum- the events calendar- the group statistics- getting introduced (part of the messaging)- BCC  removed from :bulk" messages- the ability to reply to connection requests before accepting- the "advanced search" capability- the ability to view people's entire profiles without having to click "see more"- seeing the groups your connections belonged to- and now, the ability to postThis is far from the entire list, but you get the point.Some LinkedIn members may not know all of these, but those who've been on the platform for a longer time may recall some or most of them.Bottom line? The overall functionality of LinkedIn is going down in a big way for those not willing to pay $900 a year for Sales Navigator. In my market, U.S. government contracting, government employees are not going to pay the $900, nor will the agency they work for. This will drive the value down the value for federal managers, and they will use the platform less. This, in turn, will reduce the value for contractors, who will then use it less.My market is measured in $Trillion$, and LinkedIn is trying to get the federal government to use the HR platform for recruiting. With the reduced functionality AND the ridiculously high price for the Sales Navigator, Federal and state and local governments will find much less value in using LinkedIn.For over a decade, LinkedIn worked hard to build a great for social networking platform business, and largely they succeeded. However over the past few years, much of the value for active LinkedIn members has either evaporated or migrated to Sales Navigator.As LinkedIn approaches year 14 (it launched May 5, 2003), 460+ million LinkedIn members are asking "WTF?!?!?"So, welcome to LinkedIn Lite -tastes like crap and is less fulfilling of your business needs than ever before.[...]

Why the Era of Big GovCon Shows is Past...

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 19:55:00 +0000

Someday soon you are likely to get an email invitation to the next BIG THING, the GovCon event to end all events.Be wary of such missives, regardless of where it comes from.In the 1990s hardly a month went by when there wasn't some large IT focused event in DC: the Federal Computer Expo, the GCN Expo (Government Computer News tried it's own), ComNet, AFCEAs TechNet, GovTechNet (FCW & AFCEA), GovSec, Government Video, FedMicro, FedPro Expo, eGov, and many more.Marketing budgets were healthy then, as real margins existed for both products and services. The shows were big, often fun, and occasionally useful. I have pens form those shows older than my children.Then the shows started dropping off, one by one, until only FOSE remained, although it was far from healthy. Then FOSE passed away after 35 years.But wait, on the horizon, son of FOSE emerges- ACQUIRE- a show with such a broad focus (federal employee info, IT products, home goods and more...) that it was doomed from the outset. It lasted only one year.(There is nothing like an empty exhibit hall in prime time.)Why?The era of the big show is gone. Even if the contractors and the feds needed it, there are few available funds to support it. The margins are thin and federal audiences are more frugal with their time, going to events that offer specific information.Small, very focused events have largely replaced the mega-shows for government contractors. Producers like the Federal Business Council. Digital Government Institute, and select others produce more targeted events. Hosky Communications produces events for contractors that target a specific technology audience. Associations like GITEC, ACT-IAC, AFFIRM and the Professional Services Council Produce excellent events.FISSEA, out at NIST, produces an annual event for IT professionals inside federal agencies responsible for security training. They have their annual event in March, 2017- not too late!Contract program offices sponsor great event: NITAAC, SEWP and Alliant have all held successful events for their respective contractors recently. If you aren't on one of these contracts you can always call and ask if you can attend to learn more and network.National associations like HIMSS produce events where many feds will attend even though the focus is not federal.Why? They are more focused. They offer great networking opportunities. They offer continuing education credits, and more.Sponsorship may cost a fair amount, but you don't have to sponsor to attend.Your marketing funds are limited, from the largest contractors down to those small companies. If you are thinking about exhibiting at an event or event sponsorship, be very careful with your selection.Remember, someday soon you are likely to get an email invitation to the next BIG THING, the GovCon event to end all events.Do not share, forward or respond. Just delete it.Comments are always welcome![...]

Amtower Off Center begins year 11

Sun, 29 Jan 2017 17:02:00 +0000

Weekly since February 2007, Amtower Off Center has offered a forum to discuss the contracting side of government. The show airs Monday at noon in DC on 1500 AM, is simulcast on, and is downloadable from the station web site and iTunes.I strive to offer information that is timely, educational and interesting, as well as occasionally amusing. The show is like nothing else on air.The topics range from sales, marketing, business development, GWACs, IDIQs and GSA Schedules, creating a subject matter expert platform, mergers and acquisitions, creating an advisory board, LPTA and category management, small business issues, contracting and procurement, interviews with business authors, marketing lessons form military history and more.Often I have guests who help analyze current issues, shedding light on the good, the bad and the ugly, warning contractors of landmines and roadblocks, or offering tips on how to win more.I've enjoyed having many of brightest people in government contracting on my show, as well as other thought leaders, including Jill Aitoro, Larry Allen, Anne Altman, Brad Antle, Betsy Blakney, Lou Anne Bradley Brossman, Steve Charles,  Alan Chovotkin, Robert Coen, Bob Davis, Kevin DeSanto, Lisa Dezzutti, Fred Diamond, Carl Dickson, Michael Fischetti, Lee Frederiksen, Hal Good, Bob Gourley, Kimberly Hancher, Ann Handley, Maria Horton, Claudia and Peg Hosky, Peter Jacobs, Martha Johnson, Wyatt Kash, Michael Keating, Casey Kelley, Stan Krejci, Bob Laclede, Dee Lee, Cameron Leuthy, Robert Lohfeld, Christina Morrison, Lisa Pafe, Kevin Plexico, David Powell, Joe Pulizzi, Kerry Simon Rea, Todd Richards, Allan Rubin, David Meerman Scott, David Shea, Mike Smoyer, Barry Strauss, Stan Soloway, Emma Sopko, Simon Szykman, Guy Timberlake, Nick Wakeman, Rita Walston, Beth Wingate, Joanne Woytek, Kevin P Young, and many others.Below are a few photos of me and various guests.Above, with Lisa Pafe of Lohfeld ConultingAmtower on air                        Above, with best selling author and speaker David Meerman ScottAbove with David Shea, GSA Charge Card Program DirectorWith Wyatt KashWith Deidre (Dee) LeeWith Fred DiamondAt the Tower Club with Bob LacledeWith Peter Jacobs and Christina Morrison[...]

2017 - The Year of the GWAC

Fri, 30 Dec 2016 22:52:00 +0000

Recently Bloomberg Government (BGov) released a study stating GWACs hit a record $10 billion in 2016. I agree it was a record year, but the total was slightly over $15 billion, not the $10 billion reported by BGov. From the GSA GWAC dashboard, a call to the SEWP office and having worked with NITAAC during most of 2016, I knew the numbers: GSAs combined GWACs nearly $6.2 billion, NITAACs 3 GWACs almost $5 billion, and SEWP came in at about $4 billion.Everett Dirkson would be impressed, because now we're talking real money.Overall a good year across the board for the eight GWACs: 8(a) STARS II,  Alliant, Alliant Small Business, CIO-CS, CIO-SP3, CIO-SP3 Small Business, SEWP V, and VETS,Why the seemingly "sudden" growth? There are several factors.First, and perhaps most obvious, many of the companies that own prime spots on the GWACs are out there actively pushing these vehicles to their customer and prospect base. The contracts offer lower fees for agencies than the GSA Schedules, are very easy to use, and have a broad range of products and services. The companies that are most successful on GWACs - even small companies - are aggressive in promoting those GWACs. Just look at the growth of Red River, a top SEWP perfomer over the past several years.Which leads to factor two: OEMs and service providers love GWACs. OEMs without access to GWACs have limited access to Federal buyers. When Oracle announced it would no longer make products available on any GSA Schedule, do you think it hurt their sales?Probably not, as their partners in the GovCon arena own spots on multiple GWACs and other IDIQs. One major partner, DLT Solutions, is on SEWP V, CIO-CS and has an Army BPA for Oracle. Oracle's departure from GSA Schedules will hurt Schedule 70, not Oracle.I advise hardware manufacturers to talk to both NITAAC and SEWP directly, then to look for key contract holders, preferably companies that have spots on both contracts. Adding new OEMs on SEWP and CIO-CS takes hours, not weeks or months. I often assist OEMs in their search for right channel partners.Another factor contributing to the growth is the number of sub-contracts for these vehicles is growing. Most of the prime contract holders welcome the new subs if it is a good fit for them and the contract. Joanne Woytek of SEWP, Casey Kelley of Alliant and Rob Coen, then with NITAAC but now at FEDSIM all discussed this aspect of their respective contracts when they were guests on my radio show on Federal News Radio. GWACs and IDIQs are frequent topics on my show.If you don't have a prime spot on one of the GWACs, look for a partner that does.Yet another factor is that each of the GWAC program managers will spend time with any agency contract shop explaining how and why to use their contracts, as well as the lower fees and the ease of use. SEWP and NITAAC are quite active in this.We are also seeing more contract specific training events, a key to educating both buyers and sellers. I have moderated GWAC panels at conferences like 930Gov  and the Government Procurement Conference because of the growing popularity of GWACs. Alliant and SEWP both have major events in January 2017.Then there is the FITARA halo effect. NITAAC has e-GOS, a dashboard that allows the agency (and the contractor) to see and download their entire transaction history: date, price paid, vendor, product/service, SIN, delivery and much more. This helps the buying agency when it does FITARA reporting. SEWP is launching a similar dashboard in 2017.As FITARA will probably be with us for a while, the dashboards will [...]

NEW DATE: Don't miss Creating Your Subject Matter Expert Platform JAN 12, 2017 in Columbia MD

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 14:42:00 +0000

B2G will be tougher than ever in FY 2017 so you need to leverage every advantage - and create platforms that give you an advantage.We are offering a workshop January 12, 2017 from 8am until 4pm that will help you define and develop your Subject Matter Expert (SME) platform.Developing a subject matter expert platform is critical for success in the government market. This session combines elements of three Government Market Master workshops:LinkedIn for GovCon, B2G Content Marketing and Creating the Subject Matter Expert Platform.The workshop includes a 30 minute consultation prior to the session. As a bonus we are offering a post-workshop consultation to answer any questions.The workshop highlights five stages to developing the SME platform:1) determining your legitimate differentiator(s);2) displaying the differentiator on your social profile and your web site;3) substantiating the differentiator through content development, sharing and curation;4) social engagement (live and online networking);5) expanding your network.To register, go here: There are many ways to differentiate yourself and your company to gain an edge over your competition. The area of expertise can be a technical or process driven differentiator; it can be predicated on relationships; it can be built around a deep knowledge regarding a specific agency, and more.Defining and communicating your area expertise is critical for your growth and success.This workshop will include a comprehensive 140 page workbook, snacks, beverages and lunch.We are limiting attendance to 16.  The $100 discount code is "HTC1".Reserve your seat today: Call or email with any questions: 301 854 9493[...]

Marketing Warfare

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 18:11:00 +0000

I have a fascination with military history, especially battles and successful commanders. My library includes Sun Tzu (3 different editions- my favorite is the James Clavell version), the three volume set of von Clauswitz’s On War, biographies of Alexander the Great, the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon, Patton’s War As I Knew It,  Eisenhower’s War in Europe, Marketing Warfare (Trout and Ries), and more. You get the picture.Recently I’ve been reading Cornell history Professor Barry Strauss, who writes well and extensively on ancient warfare, especially Greek and Roman. Imagine my surprise when I open an email from MarketingProfs and find “Disruptive Marketing Lessons from the Trojan Horse” by Professor Strauss.So I ask myself, “Mark, what have you seen in GovCon over the years that reflects good military thinking?” Here are a few scenarios that came to mind.The Importance of BeachheadsMicron PC (MPC) in the mid-1990s produced some great computers, but they were competing against some much bigger companies like Dell and Gateway. All three offered built-to-spec mail/phone order computers. The CEO of Micron at that time was a former Dell executive and he wanted blood, but under the guidance of the late, great Harry B. Heisler a plan was developed and deployed to go after market share in the four agencies where MPC had a strong beachhead, not to attack larger, much better financed companies across the board. Advising Harry was fun; flying to Boise from Baltimore less so, unless I was flying out with Tony Colangelo.The result of developing the beachheads produced very significant growth in each agency, more than doubling sales in each agency over the next two years. Use your resources where you have that beachhead, and sell where you are known.Exploiting a Weakness in Your OpponentCDW launched the “G” division in the early 2000s. In 2004 I was given a tour of the new warehouse in Chicago as part of my introduction to my new client. The warehouse was a true “just in time” delivery powerhouse, as they could get things out the door that day if the order was in by 2:00 pm. My tour guide was the president of CDWG, Jim Shanks. During the tour we were discussing how to differentiate CDWG from GTSI and at the end of the tour I had the answer. At that time GTSI had been the dominant VAR for over twenty years.“How long do you think GTSI takes to ship products?” I asked Jim. He did not know, but I did: Often as long as three weeks.The first differentiator was “Order by 2:00PM and get it the next day.” Finding and exploiting the weaknesspropelled CDWG past GTSI in a few short years. While this was certainly not the only tactic that CDWG used (great marketing, sales and customer service were part of the package), it was a great way to kick off the offensive.Guerrilla WarfareAbout the same time CDWG was going after GTSI, Juniper Networks deployed a guerrilla marketing campaign against much bigger Cisco. While it had several elements, the most prominent was Farside-esque cartoons in Federal Computer Week.  The cartoons took maybe one-eighth of a page and were much less expensive that the two-page ads Cisco was buying. However, the cartoons were what people started looking for in each issue, with every cartoon offering a humorous barb. My personal favorite was a cat using a Cisco router as a litter box.I did not advise Juniper so I don’t know the results, but I do know that there was a TON of buzz around this campaign.Successful guerrilla warfare involves us[...]

Will your FY 2017 Kickoff be more of the same?

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 19:28:00 +0000

What does your FY 2017 Kickoff look like?Winning government business in 2017 will be harder than ever for smaller businesses. Getting the attention of decision makers has never been easy, so getting and staying on their radar in ways that matter will be more important than ever. Here's what we can be certain of:     - we will have yet another CR    - competition will be tougher than ever    - LPTA and FSSI (category management) will be with usNow ask yourself these questions:    - Are you going to be engaging in the same marketing activities as FY 2016?    - Have you reviewed your marketing program to make certain it supports your BD and sales?    - Do you want the same results as last year?There are three key activities you can employ without breaking the bank:-         -  differentiating your company in ways that matter to buyers and influencers-         - clearly enunciating those differentiators via the number one platform where you will be vetted - LinkedIn-       -   supporting those differentiators by publishing and curating contentgermane to your customers and prospectsFirst, unless and until you differentiate your company in ways that matter to buyers and influencers, you will always be one of many, not a company that stands out from the crowd.Second, after you determine your legitimate differentiators you need to clearly enunciate them through your company web site and on LinkedIn. These are the two places where you will be vetted.Third, now that you defined your niche and have clearly enunciated the differentiators, you need to defend the position. Generating and curating content that helps customers and prospects understand the issues and solutions around your area of expertise, and demonstrates that you are a leader in the category.I have developed a half-day workshop that will help your company define and defend areas of expertise, then reach out and share those areas with your key prospect audiences. This workshop combines elements from my three most popular workshops: LinkedIn for GovCon, Developing the Subject Matter Expert Platform and Content Marketing.The “Kickoff” is designed to differentiate your company, leveraging LinkedIn and launch your content marketing program and develop your subject matter expert position without breaking your budget.The Kickoff workshop will help you:-          - determine your core skills and create a differentiated market position-          - define the key elements of your individual and company LinkedIn profiles-          - identify and reach out to key prospects on LinkedIn, building a focused network-          - successfully publish on LinkedIn-         -  create original content and develop an editorial calendar-        -  find and curate other content-        -  build a legitimate, differentiated position in the government market-       -   provide you a roadmap for building and defending a subject matter expert (SME) platform-      -   and more.Each workshop is customized for your company and the market niche where you operate.I am offering an introductory inves[...]

Becoming a Recognized Expert - August 31

Fri, 12 Aug 2016 19:23:00 +0000

I met Mitchell Levy in 2007 through Jason Alba, author of I'm on LinkedIn, Now What?. Jason's book was a major motivator for me in  getting active on LinkedIn and social media in general. Mitchell published Jason's book, and he has since published four of mine.

Mitchell and I clicked the first time we talked. Every time we get together (via phone, we've never met in person) we share ideas, create new ideas, and generally have a great time. There is often no agenda for the call, yet somehow extraordinary ideas occur.

Aside from being a publisher, Mitchell is a thinker and advisor. He advises people and companies on becoming recognized experts. As this is also one of my disciplines in the government contracting community, we never run out of things to discuss.

In April of 2014 I was a guest on Mitchell's webcast, Thought Leader Life and for about an hour we discussed what it took to become a thought leader. It was truly a great conversation, loaded with tips. It also highlighted some mistakes many make on their journey for recognition.

We decided it was time for an update, so we are doing another webcast  - Becoming a Recognized Expert - on Wednesday, August 31 at 7:00 PM Eastern- 4PM Pacific - and I promise it will be time well spent.

There is no fee - just great information, tips you can start using immediately and more than enough to create a plan for you to start migrating to the recognized expert status.

Listen in an pick up some valuable tips!

Register here - and do it NOW! 

And please share this with your friends.


My Key Take-Aways from the 2016 Federal Government Contractor Study

Sun, 10 Jul 2016 21:29:00 +0000

Most of my research is experiential, straight from the front lines, working with my clients and watching the market as closely as I can. However, when Market Connections releases a new study, I will be there. Their work usually aligns with my experience – not always, but we are normally close on all the major topics.Their recent briefing from the new study, 2016 Federal Government Contractor Study, provided an overview of issues facing contractors, tools being used to respond to the changing conditions, marketing challenges, and the strategies and tactics being employed. I am going to briefly discuss only the key points of interest to me as a marketing advisor for contractors. If you’d like to see all of the findings, download the report: The business development and marketing challenges were not exactly parallel, but they were quite similar, both being led by the long government procurement cycle. Also included were aligning objectives and the strategy for sales, marketing and BD, funding, maintaining profitability, measuring marketing ROI, and moving leads through the sales funnel.One theme that got my attention was “differentiation beyond price,” which resonated across senior executives, BD/sales, marketing, and program management.  I’ve written about this often and worked with several companies and consultants on this issue.Hinge Marketing provides a great framework for differentiation - While it was written for professional services firms, it can work for product firms as well.When it came it marketing activity effectiveness, the top issues were thought leadership materials, speaking at larger events, opportunity tracking databases and hosting your own events. Top activities associated with “win rate” were thought leadership materials, content marketing, SEO marketing, social media marketing, speaking at smaller events and PR/media pitching. When you combine differentiation, thought leadership materials, content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, speaking at events and PR, you are talking about building a subject matter expert platform.This is an area that I have researched thoroughly and about which I have written extensively. I also advise companies and individuals on the process of developing a subject matter expert platform, integrating the differentiation, content marketing, speaking, social media engagement and more to build a credible presence in a defined market niche.For smaller businesses, building a subject matter expert platform is key to growth in the government market. Most large contractors already leverage subject matter experts, though some are more successful than others. A sustained effort is required for generating content of value to a well-defined audience. Continous engagement via social platforms like LinkedIn is another key to making this work. This helps sustain your visibility to a defined audience. Content that is off the mark, content of the “me too” variety, or content that is simply inaccurate negates any gains you might have made.Competing on price alone is death by a thousand cuts. When you understand what you do well, knowing which agencies need those skills, how they acquire those services, and you know who the players are, then you have a framework to build out the differentiation, content and thought le[...]

Top GovCon Marketers to Convene in Potomac MD July 21

Thu, 09 Jun 2016 14:13:00 +0000

THIS EVENT IS POSTPONED UNTIL DECEMBER. If you'd like to be notified of when the date is selected, send an email to  & I will put you on the "First Alert" list.Thank you- Mark AmtowerThe Federal Business Council has partnered with Mark Amtower’s Government Market Master program to re-launch Federal Channels.The 2016 theme is Government Marketing Best Practices 2020. 2020 references vision: looking backward, looking at the present, and trying to understand the future - all to determine what works best now.In the early 2000s Federal Channels toured multiple cities around the US providing actionable information about sales, marketing and business development in the public sector.The re-launch of Federal Channels will focus on the marketing side of doing business with the government and will feature several leading experts, among them Mark Amtower (Amtower & Company), Lou Anne Brossman (Government Marketing University), Carl Dickson (, Lee Frederiksen(Hinge Marketing), Mark Meudt (GDIT), David Powell (FBC), Allan Rubin (immixGroup) and many others.Workshops will cover the latest market research pertaining to marketing to the government, differentiation, the new rules of B2G social media, customer engagement, content marketing, marketing your MAC (multiple award contract) and Q&A with the experts.Federal Business CouncilFederal Channels convenes at 8:00am at the Bolger Center in Potomac, Maryland. The Bolger Center features 431 guest rooms on a lush campus, with plenty of free parking.ATTEND Federal Channels- Government Marketing Best Practices 2020To register: information on the Bolger Center (location, directions, rooms): For more information, including sponsorships, contact  David Powell, Federal Business Council, david@fbcdb.comor Mark Amtower, Amtower & Company,    [...]