Marketing to the Federal Government can be complex when you are first starting out in Government Contracting. I have had clients that did not do any research and went marketing to every federal agency within their geographical area. The problem with this strategy is that not all federal agencies may use your product or service or if they do use your product or service you may not have met all the requirements that the agency has in order to do business with them. For example, in construction you are required to have bonding. If your bonding is only $300,000 then marketing to DoD may not be to your advantage since most of the construction projects that DoD deals with require higher bonding. You would be better off marketing to other agencies like the Forest Service that has smaller projects within your bonding range. By researching, the agencies and knowing what they purchase you can eliminate marketing to an agency that does not use your product or service. If you recall from a previous post, I discussed that not every agency will necessarily purchase every product or service that you have to offer.
Thankfully, the Government has provided the public with a way to research what agencies have purchased in the past. The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (FFATA) was signed into law on September 26, 2006. The legislation required that federal contract, grant, loan, and other financial assistance awards of more than $25,000 be displayed on a publicly accessible and searchable website to give the American public access to information on how their tax dollars are being spent. This system is called USASpending.gov. By using this system, you can discover which agencies have purchased your products or services in the past. If an agency purchased in the past that is a good indication that they will purchase in the future.
In order to perform a search, you are going to need to gather some information. The 1st is the North America Industry Classification Code otherwise known as NAICS code. This is a 6-digit industry classification code. You can find out what your NAICS code is by visiting the census.gov website. https://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/.
It is important to note that you are not limited to only one NAICS code. The first NAICS code that you choose needs to be your primary one. That is the industry in which the majority of your revenue is received in. You may have other NAICS codes that your business also receives revenues in. Spend some time on the Census website and list all the NAICS applicable to your business.
Sometimes the NAICS Code is too broad and does not define what you actually do. For example, I had a client that was in a niche market. In order for him to figure out who to market to we had to use a Product Service Code otherwise known as PSC. A link to the PSC manual will be in today’s show notes. Product Service Code Manual.
Now that we have this information we can perform a search. USASpending. Gov has drop downs at the top, go to Award Search, then select advanced Search. On the left-hand side select the fiscal year. Remember that the government’s fiscal year runs from Oct 1 through Sept 30. Now select the location or locations that you want to search. Then scroll down and select your NAICS code. Finally select your classification (small business, 8(a), HUBZone, SDVOSB or WOSB/EDWOSB. Then run the search. You should get a listing of contracts that were awarded in the past. It will tell you the Award ID otherwise known as the Contract Number, the Recipient Names, start and end date and award amount. You will see blue hyperlinks on the Award ID. You can select the award ID to find out the agency and other information.
If you are in a niche market, then you would not enter a NAICS code but instead enter the PSC code for your search. All the other parameters are the same.
If you did not get a listing of contracts, then you may need to change to a different PSC or NAICS code. You are going to need to spend some time on this website and run a variety of searches. If you want, you are able to download those searches and create pivot tables in Excel.
The goal is to select 3 agencies only. I would suggest marketing to the smaller agencies first (GSA, FS, NPS) before marketing to DoD agencies. It is a lot easier to get your foot in the door with smaller agencies than it is with larger ones.
There are a number of uses for USASpending. You can research your top competitors, potential partners, and mentors. You can also track contracts and know when one is expiring so that you can look out for it to be announced on Federal Business Opportunities website also known as FBO.gov. Fed Biz Ops website lists all solicitations above $25,000. It is a great place to find out about federal opportunities.
Now that you have your top three agencies to market too we can take the next step and talk about Capability Statements.