How to Drive Federal Buyers to Your Web Site (950 words)
By Mark Amtower
If you seek a customer who buys just about every type of product and service imaginable, look no further than Uncle Sam.
Ignore the horror stories you may have heard about arcane processes such as needing a GSA number or some other government contract, or how slowly the Feds pay vendors.
The federal government has more than 500,000 small purchase (i.e., less than $2,500) credit cards that were used more than 25 million times in fiscal year 2000. Total spent: $12.2 billion. By far the greatest beneficiaries of this largess are catalogers and other direct marketers selling on the open market—no contracts.
Market Connections, Oakton, VA, released a survey in April 2000 that describes the best methods for reaching federal buyers and influencers. Among the results presented were federal Web buying and browsing habits. The survey showed dramatic increases from 1998 to 1999, and predicted, based on the results, continued growth of the Web as a tool for information-gathering and buying, especially among the government's credit-card holders. As the Web becomes even more pervasive, the more b-to-b and b-to-g (business-to-govenment) buying will occur, experts predict.
In "Reaching Feds on the Web" (Target Marketing, December 2000), I covered basic features your Web site should offer to federal buyers, namely: easy navigation, quick page loads, accurate information, good presentation and indexing, current links, and the government credit card logo. Please keep in mind these are baseline "musts," without which you can't hope to make any gains in selling to the Feds. In fact, without these, you probably won't even get return visits to your site.
Attract and Retain
How do you get federal buyers to visit and return to your site?
First, get the word out to a targeted audience. Employing direct mail, (opt-in) e-mail, selected space advertising and your usual mix becomes critical to getting out your dot-com address. Make your URL prominent on all marketing materials—and don't let your creative folks deter you from doing so. Each of the marketing elements you employ should be used to drive traffic to your site.