Marketing to the Public Sector: Strategies for Success

Marketing to the Public Sector

Read on to discover actionable strategies that businesses can use to market their products and services to the public sector (using the proper channels to engage with government officials and comply with procurement processes).

Marketing to the public sector requires a nuanced and thoughtful approach. With over 450 central government departments, agencies, and bodies, identifying the right decision-makers and opportunities is no easy task. However, the rewards for those who succeed are substantial, with the public sector spending more than £350 billion each year with third-party suppliers. This article aims to highlight the importance of marketing to the public sector, explore the unique features of public sector marketing compared to private sector marketing, and provide actionable strategies for success.

Why Market to the Public Sector?

The public sector offers a huge potential market for businesses of all sizes. In 2021, the UK government pledged to invest £1 in every £3 with small and medium-sized enterprises to boost innovation. This presents a significant opportunity for businesses of all sizes looking to secure public sector contracts. Marketing to the public sector can bring numerous benefits to your business. Firstly, it can provide a reliable revenue stream as these contracts are usually long-term, ensuring a steady flow of income. Marketed right and you could see yourself winning government contracts that will improve your business’s financial stability and reduce financial risks. Secondly, marketing to the public sector can enhance the visibility and credibility of your business. It demonstrates that your company has the capability and expertise to deliver high-quality services to a demanding client. Thirdly, it can potentially give you access to a large customer base, including diverse organisations, departments, and agencies. Finally, successful delivery of a public sector contract can open doors to future contracts, helping your business to gain experience and establish a track record of success that can be easily marketed. It is a worthwhile pursuit for businesses seeking new opportunities, have you considered it?

In brief:

– The government wants to work with more small and medium-sized enterprises

– Rewards include a steady source of income and establishing long-term business relationships

What’s the Difference Between Public Sector and Private Sector Marketing?

Marketing to the public sector requires a different approach compared to marketing to the private sector. Public sector procurement processes are often more stringent, and businesses need to be able to demonstrate their ability to meet these requirements. The public sector is far more about fairness in selection and compliancy. Therefore, one notable distinction between the two industries relates to navigation and access points. The intricacies of public sector departments and frameworks can be quite vexing, and it’s not always simple to identify the key decision-makers. There are several ways to enter the market. One of the most common ways is through government procurement portals, such as Contracts Finder and the Official Journal of the European Union, which advertise government contracts. Framework agreements, which are long-term arrangements between the government and suppliers for specific goods and services, are also a popular entry point. Subcontracting can also be an option, as large businesses may subcontract work to smaller businesses, providing them with an opportunity to gain experience and build relationships with the government. Networking is crucial in marketing to the public sector, and attending industry events, joining trade associations and chambers of commerce, and building relationships with government officialscan help businesses learn about opportunities and position themselves for success. Finally, businesses that specialise in a particular area or have unique expertise may have an advantage, as the government often seeks suppliers with specific skills and experience.

In brief:

– Public sector procurement processes are more stringent, requiring businesses to demonstrate their ability to meet these requirements

– Public sector is more focused on fairness in selection and compliance

– Navigation and access points to the public sector can be complicated

– Government procurement portalsframework agreements, and subcontracting are common ways to enter the market 

– Networking is useful, such as attending industry eventsjoining trade associations, and building relationships with government officials 

– Specialisation in a particular area or unique expertise can give a competitive advantage

How to Market to the Public Sector

It is not appropriate to directly engage and sell to government officials without going through the proper channels (more about that later). However, that isn’t to say you cannot create awareness of your brand and establish yourself as a thought leader.

It is certainly helpful to apply commonly-used marketing methods just as you would for the private sector, such as having a strong online presence is essential, with a website that contains relevant and up-to-date content, proactive search engine optimisation (SEO), and engagement on social media platforms. Many government officials are active on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Follow them and engage with them on relevant topics to establish a rapport. Additionally, a strong online presence with a relevant website and social media activity can help to position a business as a thought-leader in their field.

When marketing to the public sector, it is important to make messages clear and focused. Businesses should consider the specific needs of the public sector and tailor their marketing efforts accordingly.

Another method is to network and attend industry events, which can also help to build relationships with key decision-makers. Importantly, attend and exhibit at trade shows, such as NHS procurement events, engage with industry-specific events, such as trade shows and conferences, and network with attendees. This is a great way to meet officials in a relaxed setting and get to know them on a personal level. Before the event, qualify leads, as it can help to identify potential clients that are most likely to be interested in your business’s products or services.

Build credibility with case studies – it’s especially important to highlight other successful work relevant to the sector. Build a bank of content on your website, write for trade magazines, and share successes on social media to highlight your level of thought leadership.

Ensure all necessary ISO accreditations are in place and up to date. Also, highlight any work you do with your local community and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities you undertake.

Consider seeking out local contracts as a supplementary means of accessing tender information. Checking the local authority website of the area you wish to target can be beneficial since winning contracts in your immediate vicinity may be easier. It is advisable to stay informed and up-to-date on available opportunities.

Above all, it is essential to provide value at any touch point. Identify the key decision-makers in the public sector organisation that you are interested in and provide valuable insights or resources that could help them in their work. This could be as simple as sharing a relevant news article or providing them with data that supports their position. If there is a policy or program that affects your industry or business, offer to provide feedback to the officials responsible for it. This can help demonstrate your expertise and show that you are interested in working collaboratively to improve outcomes. Another example of providing value would be to volunteer for committees or advisory groups, many government agencies have committees or advisory groups that provide input on policy and program development. Volunteering for these groups can help you establish relationships with officials and provide valuable insights that could benefit your business. If you have information or data that may be of interest to government officials, offer to share it with them. This can help establish you as a valuable resource and build credibility. It is worth noting that the public sector often places a great emphasis on social value and the impact that a business can have on the wider community.

In brief: 

– Develop a strong online presence with a website that contains relevant and up-to-date content and proactive SEO efforts.

Network and attend industry events to build relationships with key decision-makers.

Qualifying leads is crucial

Tailor your marketing efforts to the specific needs of the public sector

Attend industry-specific events to engage with potential clients and network with key decision-makers.

– Consider using professional networks or specialist platforms such as LinkedIn to identify and connectwith relevant decision-makers.

– Be aware that the public sector places a greater emphasis on transparency and accountability compared to the private sector.

How to Win Government Contracts

Winning government contracts can be a complex process, and it is important to understand public sector procurement. Public sector organisations are required to follow strict procurement rules and guidelineswhen purchasing goods and services from third-party suppliers. This means that businesses that wish to work with the public sector need to understand the tendering process and how to submit a competitive bid. To learn more, businesses can take advantage of a range of resources and services that are available. The government operates several procurement portals that list tender opportunities from different public sector organisations, for example Contracts Finder, Find a Tender, and Public Contracts Scotland. For businesses that are looking for more tailored support, there are a range of procurement consultancies (such as Augmentas Group) that can provide expert guidance on the tendering process.

By taking advantage of these resources and services, businesses can gain a better understanding of the UK tendering process and increase their chances of winning contracts with public sector organisations. When writing the bid, businesses should ensure that they can demonstrate their capabilities and achievements, emphasising their social value and impact on the community.

In brief: 

Research public sector procurement processes to ensure that you can meet their requirements.

– Understand that public sector procurement processes are often more stringent than those in the private sector.

Emphasise your achievements and capabilities

Emphasise your social value and the impact that your business can have on the community.

– Use clear and concise messaging to communicate your value proposition to potential clients.

Marketing to the public sector can be a challenging but rewarding experience for businesses. By taking the steps indicated throughout this article, businesses can position themselves as valuable partners to the public sector.

If you are interested in working with government, why not give us a call?

Find the best procurement & tender management solution for you

Fundamentally we do two things, we buy for the government, and we help others to sell to government. We have a strong blend of operational, commercial and sales experience within a team of experienced professionals, all of whom have proven success. We know what we are doing because we have done it many times before, having bought, sold and delivered £billions worth of services for and to government.

With an excellent track record, we are confident in our approach. See our services.

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