In March 2013 I penned a Visionary Blog entry about market
research that paid homage to BoB Davis’ Washington Technology op-ed ‘Never stop your market research or risk the
consequences.’ Simply put, Bob talked about large systems integrators
taking a lax approach to market research (when it came to existing customers)
which often contributed to the subsequent loss of that business during
Besides Bob imparting wisdom, the article is great because
several of his comments, in my opinion, should resonate with every government
contractor. What did he say? Two that stuck with me the most are "Today, in our
industry, it [market research] is usually performed on a part-time, ad hoc
basis.” He then added "…most companies are looking at the same market data from
the same sources.”
If you’ve been around me for more than five minutes, you’ve
heard me reference the Lois Horowitz quote, "Information is King” and offer my thoughts
on the availability of information today versus the days of Commerce Business Daily (yesterday’s
FedBizOpps), the Standard Form 129
Solicitation Mailing List Application (yesterday’s CCR/SAM) and FOIA requests submitted by U.S. Mail
(yesterday’s E-FOIA). These were the available tools and resources during my
first years in this business. Whatever information you did not get from your
buddies, teaming partners or one of the many conferences of the day (when there
was still significant representation by agencies), you were relegated to manual
research without courtesy of the World Wide Web.
What’s my point today?
After nearly ten years at the helm of The American Small
Business Coalition, and three years since the birth of Ethical Stalking for Government Contractors™, some key reasons I
believe many companies do not leverage basic market research techniques is
because most don’t understand the efficiencies that can be gained through
collecting, qualifying and exploiting information to support decision-making. In some cases they simply don’t believe there are efficiencies to
be gained by analyzing data, industry tips and the like. Additionally, quite a
few don’t understand what information they
are looking for or how to use it to further their cause once they have it.
Another factor is the general misunderstanding and non-understanding of terminology that
indicates how an agency or specific contracting office solicits, competes and
makes awards. For example, the chart below represents FY13 Governmentwide spending as reported to FPDS-NG (as of October
7, 2013). If you are not intimately familiar with what information is or is not
reported to this system, you need to be.
Here are my questions to all who choose to participate in
this informal scientific experiment. Of the nine (9) award/IDV types listed above, which of them do not represent transactions that indicate an agency establishing an
indefinite delivery contract, or
placing orders against indefinite delivery contracts? If this information were specific
to an agency, contracting office, funding office or NAICS Code of interest to
you, what would that mean to your company as far as opportunities, competition,
etc.? Keep in mind this is a summary representation that can very easily be
massaged to drill down to very specific information using more than three hundred
points of data.
If you are drawing a blank, I invite you to drop me a line
to learn about Ethical Stalking for
Government Contractors™ and Information
To Win™, two offerings under our industry education program The
ASBCs of Government Contracting™ that will absolutely help you better
understand the information you acquire from the fee-based solutions, or the
free data repositories stood up by the Government. You’ll also learn where the information comes
from, who is responsible to report, what is reported, what is not and when!
Again, what’s my point?
With a process to identify the information that matters to
you, which means having some process in place for knowing what kind of
information you need to answer the questions you have, you can sift through the
many sources of information and pinpoint what you can get on your own to
augment the face-to-face activities you are involved in. In fact, a simple
collection and analysis process can make your marketing, business development
and capture activities much more efficient!
It doesn’t matter if you pay for a subscription or tough it out
and get the information your own way. What’s important is that you understand what you are looking for
(and at) and why you’re looking for it and
at it. Once you know that, you’ll be able to effectively get the
information you need to beef up your efforts of finding and winning government contracts and subcontract.
Give me a call to find out more.
Peace.The Chief Visionary
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."