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Businesses of all sizes can market to the government

Nov 29, 2012 - By Natasha Stahla

Question -- "Can you please provide information explaining how I can market my business to the federal government?"

Wes, Cody

Answer -- If you are interested in doing business with the federal government, one thing you will want to learn is how to market your business to the different agencies. Marketing to the federal government is a whole different ball game than marketing to the general population. The federal government must purchase products, services and construction in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulations. Agencies must follow a process that the FAR provides at different dollar thresholds.

Knowing how agencies make their purchases is the first step to knowing how to market to them. If you sell supplies or services under the micro-purchase threshold, the purchase can be paid by credit card, and competition is not required.

To market your business, you might start by calling the agency to identify purchase card holders who routinely buy the supplies or services you are selling. You also could send the agencies information on the product or service you are selling.

Your goal is to make them aware of the products or services your company offers, and encourage them to buy from you the next time they need it. The information could be in the form of a government-directed business card, brochure, capabilities narrative, flier or a marketing piece.

Below the micro-purchase level, the agency does not need to use a competitive bidding process. Therefore, marketing your product or service to the federal government at the micro-purchase level is fairly similar to marketing to the general public.

When the purchase amount is between the micro-purchase level and $25,000, a purchasing agent or contracting officer must have competition before buying a product or service from a business. For purchases more than $25,000, it is mandatory, according to the FAR, that a solicitation be posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

At both levels, a business must be registered in the Central Contractor Registration in order to sell to the government.

However, it is very important --Â for purchases at the micro-purchase level up to $25,000 --Â that a small business doesn't overlook the Small Business Administration Profile that is at the end of the CCR. The SBA Profile goes into a database called the Dynamic Small Business Search.

The DSBS, a free marketing tool, is only offered to small businesses. Within the DSBS is a capabilities narrative. The narrative gives you the opportunity to explain your business and what you have to offer.

The DSBS can link to your website. Elizabeth Parks, information specialist with the Wyoming Entrepreneur Market Research Center, is a great resource and she provides free website optimization services for small businesses in Wyoming.

While conducting market research, government agencies often rely on websites to find contractors. Are you making it easy for them to find you on the Internet? Do you have the information on your website that is needed to match your products or services with their needs?

The MRC will evaluate your website to ensure that it is functioning as a marketing tool that will attract government agencies looking for contractors. They also will review your DSBS profile.

To schedule your free Web optimization report, contact Parks at eparks@uwyo.edu or 766-5405.

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Editor's note: Natasha Stahla is the Wyoming Entrepreneur procurement specialist, part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

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