Market Connections http://marketconnectionsinc.com Research you can act on Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:05:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How do Government Contractors Position for the Win? http://marketconnectionsinc.com/government-contractors-position-win/ Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:05:57 +0000 http://marketconnectionsinc.com/?p=8755 The long government procurement process is a challenge in marketing to the federal government. The 2016 Federal Government Contractor Study showed several ways federal contractors are responding and other marketing challenges to remain competitive. One of those tactics is thought leadership. Last week, we posted a link to research Edelman and LinkedIn conducted showing the…Read More

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The long government procurement process is a challenge in marketing to the federal government. The 2016 Federal Government Contractor Study showed several ways federal contractors are responding and other marketing challenges to remain competitive. One of those tactics is thought leadership.

Last week, we posted a link to research Edelman and LinkedIn conducted showing the real impact quality thought leadership has on winning business. Those results are consistent with what the Government Contractor Survey showed: Three quarters of respondents (75 percent) rated thought leadership materials as the most effective marketing tools. Senior executives agree—87 percent cite thought leadership materials as effective. Speaking at large industry-wide tradeshows and conferences (71 percent) and hosting their own events (66 percent) also rank high on the list of effective marketing activities. And companies with higher new pursuit win rates grade themselves significantly better on demonstrating thought leadership and subject matter expertise (61 percent) than companies with lower new pursuit win rates (38 percent).

“We do not have budget problems in the federal government, but we do have an issue of leaders who need to implement change. To sell that change, you must be positioned as a thought leader and provide insights and solutions they may not know about,” said Anthony Robbins, Vice President of Global Defense at AT&T.

Webinar: Using Research to Position Your Company for Contract Wins

Great thought leadership alone won’t help contractors win the business. The study also showed contractors are being more selective about what they bid on. Capture research is a great tool for informing that decision. By letting contractors probe the customer needs and perceptions, they can create win themes that resonate… or determine the best decision is no-bid.

Join Market Connections Executive Vice President, Aaron Heffron, as he shares tips for using capture research to position your company for the win, or to help make a no-bid decision. Register for the webinar today.

Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Time: 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Cost: Free

REGISTER NOW

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Top Innovator: IBM Brings Identity-as-a-Service to Hybrid Cloud Environments http://marketconnectionsinc.com/ibm-idaas/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 11:17:17 +0000 http://marketconnectionsinc.com/?p=8753 As workforces across industries become more mobile, identity management is an increasing challenge. To address that challenge, IBM has developed a new hybrid cloud service to manage how employees gain access to their preferred business applications. It’s called IBM Cloud Identity Connect. This Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) provides users with rapid access to thousands of popular cloud apps…Read More

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As workforces across industries become more mobile, identity management is an increasing challenge. To address that challenge, IBM has developed a new hybrid cloud service to manage how employees gain access to their preferred business applications.

It’s called IBM Cloud Identity Connect. This Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) provides users with rapid access to thousands of popular cloud apps while enabling single sign-on (SSO) to their applications, whether from the cloud or on-premise.

Managing and securing multiple identities across a business becomes more complex on mobile and IoT devices, desktop environments, and internet services. These complications are magnified as enterprises continue their journey to the cloud trying to bridge from their traditional on-premise tools and operate in a new hybrid world.

“Businesses need to infuse identity everywhere. Cloud Identity Connect makes it easier than ever before for customers to inspire productivity and efficiency, while helping ensure their enterprise is securely managed and can effectively transition to the cloud,” said Jason Keenaghan, Director of Strategy and Offering Management, IAM and Fraud, IBM Security.

The IBM family of IDaaS tools provides seamless access to applications across cloud, on-premise, mobile and IoT devices, and hybrid environments. These tools give enterprises access management capabilities born-on-the-cloud without sacrificing their existing investments. IBM Cloud Identity includes following services Cloud Identity Connect, Cloud Identity Service, and IBM MaaS360 UEM.

For the company’s efforts to enable mobile workforces by making applications more secure, IBM has earned a Market Connections Top Innovator commendation.

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QA: Aaron Heffron on the Role of Research to Help Your Company Win http://marketconnectionsinc.com/qa-aaron-heffron/ Thu, 15 Jun 2017 11:44:10 +0000 http://marketconnectionsinc.com/?p=8749 As contractors enter the “busy season” for proposal development, gaining any edge possible for winning new business (or retaining existing contracts) is critical. On June 28, Market Connections’ Executive Vice President, Aaron Heffron, will lead Market Connections’ webinar, Best Practices: Using Research to Position Your Company for Contract Wins. We spoke with Aaron about why…Read More

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Aaron Heffron, Market Connections Executive Vice President

As contractors enter the “busy season” for proposal development, gaining any edge possible for winning new business (or retaining existing contracts) is critical. On June 28, Market Connections’ Executive Vice President, Aaron Heffron, will lead Market Connections’ webinar, Best Practices: Using Research to Position Your Company for Contract Wins. We spoke with Aaron about why this proposal season is different than those in the past and what contractors can do to prepare.

MC: What spurred your decision to host a best practices webinar on capture research?

Aaron: Contractors have traditionally spent this time of year fine-tuning win themes as they prepare for proposal season; this is particularly true after a change in administration. But I think we can all agree this year feels different. This administration has brought a very different perspective to the procurement process and government in general.

With a great level of uncertainty and change in executive leadership, understanding what agencies are going to need and want from the contracts coming up for competition is more important than ever. As we come into the last quarter of the fiscal year, everybody must be well-equipped and have as much information as possible to be competitive.

MC: Given all this change and uncertainty, what do you think is of greatest value in doing capture research?

Aaron: In our experience, the greatest value is identifying one or two overarching themes embedded within an agency. Identifying these themes help our clients connect to the challenges the agency is facing. As they bid on contracts they can develop a very specific message tailored to those challenges. For example, there may be greater focus on new technologies, cost-effectiveness or innovation at that agency than there was in the past. Without doing research, a contractor wouldn’t necessarily know an agency’s priorities. Proposals that speak to those themes will naturally rise to the top immediately.

MC: Why do a capture research project rather than talking to the agency directly?

Aaron: Using independent third-party —a researcher with no vested interest in the outcome — can get contractors feedback they are not necessarily going to get from their normal business development process. We have found agencies are more guarded in talking to government contractors than they are to a neutral third-party. This is especially true for incumbents coming up on re-competes — it’s amazing what they will tell us, as opposed to the people they sit next to day after day.

MC: Any additional insights to share?

Aaron: Definitely. Being surprised in the bidding process never leads to anything good. Period.

What we are doing with capture research is figuring out the best way to minimize the element of surprise. While there will always be something you don’t know, we want to help our clients best position themselves based on what the agency prioritizes by giving them as much information we can garner from the agency itself. We are trying to make the capture process efficient as possible so you can focus on the solution, rather than having to worry about the best way to position it.

Webinar: Using Research to Position Your Company for Contract Wins

Get ready for proposal season by joining Aaron as he shares more tips for how to prepare for this unique proposal season. Register for the webinar today.

Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Time: 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Cost: Free

REGISTER NOW

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Study Finds Thought Leadership Influences Decision Makers at All Stages of the Sales Funnel http://marketconnectionsinc.com/study-thought-leadership-influence/ Wed, 14 Jun 2017 11:15:31 +0000 http://marketconnectionsinc.com/?p=8747 (How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation from Edelman)   We are firm believers in the power of well-done thought leadership. Our clients who do these projects share the ROI, and it is substantial — from becoming known as the industry experts in one area (SolarWinds) to increasing sales (Iron Mountain), thought leadership has a real,…Read More

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We are firm believers in the power of well-done thought leadership. Our clients who do these projects share the ROI, and it is substantial — from becoming known as the industry experts in one area (SolarWinds) to increasing sales (Iron Mountain), thought leadership has a real, measurable impact.

That’s why we were thrilled to see the results from an Edleman and LinkedIn study. We know thought leadership is effective and our own studies show that decision makers value it. This study of 1,300 business decision makers went deeper to uncover additional insights, including:

  • Thought leadership can directly lead to inclusion in RFP opportunities. In the study, 41% of C-suite executives and 37% of business decision makers said that after engaging in high quality thought leadership, they invited an organization to bid.
  • Thought leadership increases trust. People buy from people they trust and 80% of business decision makers said thought leadership has increased trust in a vendor organization.

However, these things only hold true when thought leadership is well executed. When poorly done, it actually harms perceptions and has a negative impact — one third of the respondents said they had removed a company from an opportunity list after engaging with poor thought leadership. What is quality thought leadership according to these respondents?

  • It delivers facts and insights about emerging trends.
  • It contains supporting data (in charts and graphics).
  • It contains analysis of underlying issues and events.

The study contains a wealth of useful information and insights, and we encourage you to look at the full study results. Hopefully they will inspire you to incorporate more thought leadership into your content marketing plan.

Click here to learn how Market Connections helps customers craft thought leadership studies that give you the facts to support your expertise.

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Winning Contractor: Navy Awards Leidos $43M Contract http://marketconnectionsinc.com/wc-navy-awards-leidos-43m-contract/ Wed, 07 Jun 2017 15:51:27 +0000 http://marketconnectionsinc.com/?p=8682 The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Systems Center Atlantic has awarded global science and technology company Leidos a prime contract to provide technical expertise to sustain and update the Distributed Common Ground System – Navy (DCGS-N) Family of Systems (FoS). DCGS-N is the Navy’s shipboard and ashore intelligence enterprise, providing primary intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting support capability.…Read More

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The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Systems Center Atlantic has awarded global science and technology company Leidos a prime contract to provide technical expertise to sustain and update the Distributed Common Ground System – Navy (DCGS-N) Family of Systems (FoS). DCGS-N is the Navy’s shipboard and ashore intelligence enterprise, providing primary intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting support capability. Afloat or ashore, DCGS-N tools are critical for the operational commander’s battlespace awareness and netcentric operations.

The single-award, cost-plus fixed-fee contract has a one-year base period of performance, a single-year option, and a total contract value of approximately $43 million if the option is exercised. Under this follow-on contract in support of DCGS-N FoS, Leidos will provide technical assessment and evaluation, program definition, organization, and direction including the development of long and short-range plans. This includes the responsibility for formulating, guiding, and directing the evaluation approach; and defining and negotiating with agency personnel for the necessary resources.

Leidos will perform the work primarily in Charleston, S.C., Suitland, M.D., Norfolk, V.A., San Diego, C.A., and Fallon, N.V.

For the company’s demonstrated innovative technical expertise and guidance for DCGS-N since the program’s inception more than 10 years ago, Leidos has earned a Market Connections Winning Contractor commendation.

 

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How Research Informed One Company’s Capture Strategy http://marketconnectionsinc.com/research-informed-companys-capture-strategy/ Thu, 01 Jun 2017 11:54:45 +0000 http://marketconnectionsinc.com/?p=8646 As one government contractor considered entering the cybersecurity space, they realized in order to be successful, they needed to approach their capture strategies differently than other markets; that meant conducting capture research. They knew not only would the research give them actionable insights about market perception, the information would play a key role in developing…Read More

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As one government contractor considered entering the cybersecurity space, they realized in order to be successful, they needed to approach their capture strategies differently than other markets; that meant conducting capture research. They knew not only would the research give them actionable insights about market perception, the information would play a key role in developing the right offerings to meet government needs and budgets.

“Without understanding the customer’s problem set and challenges, it is impossible to develop the right solutions that meet their needs,” the company President said.

She noticed many competitors seemed to develop their cybersecurity solutions and then search for a problem to address. Using capture research, her company could do the opposite: they determined the problem first, then developed a way to meet those needs. “By starting with requirements rather than the solution we feel we have much more effective mission support-based solutions.”

Capture research provided a competitive edge by uncovering the needs and defining mission success, and the company entered a new market with services their target customers wanted and needed. Today, they have a robust cybersecurity practice.

Using Research to Position Your Company for Contract Wins

Want to learn more? Attend our next Best Practices Webinar on using research to position your company for contract wins with Market Connections Executive Vice President, Aaron Heffron.

Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Time: 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Cost: Free

REGISTER NOW

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Is Email Marketing Dead? http://marketconnectionsinc.com/email-marketing/ Wed, 31 May 2017 11:44:44 +0000 http://marketconnectionsinc.com/?p=8642 Not if you’re selling to the federal government. The 2017 Federal Content Market Review asked federal decision makers what content delivery channels are most effective. Almost three quarters said email (just behind corporate websites and search engines). When we talk to our customers about their marketing strategies, they’re often reluctant to do an email campaign…Read More

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effective delivery channelsNot if you’re selling to the federal government.

The 2017 Federal Content Market Review asked federal decision makers what content delivery channels are most effective. Almost three quarters said email (just behind corporate websites and search engines).

When we talk to our customers about their marketing strategies, they’re often reluctant to do an email campaign because they don’t want to annoy their list. The data shows, and experts agree, if the campaign provides information that will help your customers, then it won’t annoy them.

How do you do that? We found this great A to Z guide to email marketing from SendGrid. On the subject of frequency, the guide says:

“If you’re watching your engagement metrics, then you should be able to derive how often your recipients would like to be contacted. An even better way to figure out how often your recipients want to be emailed is by giving them an opportunity to tell you in a preference center! A preference center is a powerful tool that helps maintain the right expectations between the sender and the recipient.”

All 26 tips provide wonderful guidance on how to effectively use email marketing. And if you need some inspiration, Hubspot compiled some great examples of email marketing campaigns. View them here.

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Capture Research Helps You Win With Actionable Insights http://marketconnectionsinc.com/capture-research-helps-you-win/ Thu, 25 May 2017 11:37:12 +0000 http://marketconnectionsinc.com/?p=8639 To increase win rates and retain existing customers, contractors need know when and how to engage effectively with government customers and prospects throughout the lifecycle of the acquisition and the contract. This infographic illustrates how New Pursuit and Capture Research aligns with the Shipley Associates business development lifecycle, a model that has helped organizations gain…Read More

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capture researchTo increase win rates and retain existing customers, contractors need know when and how to engage effectively with government customers and prospects throughout the lifecycle of the acquisition and the contract.

This infographic illustrates how New Pursuit and Capture Research aligns with the Shipley Associates business development lifecycle, a model that has helped organizations gain competitive advantage for more than 40 years.

Specifically, for the capture process, a needs and requirements study can help you fully understand the new contract requirements, as well as who the incumbents, competitors, and potential partners are. In-depth interviews with the source selection committee and other decision-makers and influencers before the procurement goes into RFP can tell you about expectations and requirements, and how well positioned you are to win the business. This is the time to test possible solutions with decision-makers and end-users, and use the intelligence to help shape the procurement.

The actionable insights you gain can help you determine how qualified you are for the opportunity, how you are perceived in the marketplace and how you stack up against the competition. It will give you the information you need to position effectively, mitigate weaknesses, and fend off the competition.

The best way to counter uncertainty in the marketplace is with targeted knowledge that will help you win more new business and recompetes, and keep your business development and capture operations running efficiently and effectively.

Using Research to Position Your Company for Contract Wins

Want to learn more? Attend our next Best Practices Webinar on using research to position your company for contract wins with Market Connections Executive Vice President, Aaron Heffron.

Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Time: 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Cost: Free

REGISTER NOW

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QA: Dante Ricci, SAP, on Best Practices in Thought Leadership http://marketconnectionsinc.com/qa-dante-ricci-sap-best-practices-thought-leadership/ Tue, 23 May 2017 11:45:39 +0000 http://marketconnectionsinc.com/?p=8632 Among the research reports, case studies, and other content buyers use to make decisions, thought leadership continues to be an important tactic for building trust with prospects — both within the government and the private sector. How do the industry leaders stand out? During the Federal Content Marketing Review panel discussion, Dante Ricci, Global Public…Read More

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Dante Ricci

Dante Ricci,
Global Public Services Marketing & Communications lead, SAP

Among the research reports, case studies, and other content buyers use to make decisions, thought leadership continues to be an important tactic for building trust with prospects — both within the government and the private sector. How do the industry leaders stand out? During the Federal Content Marketing Review panel discussion, Dante Ricci, Global Public Services Marketing & Communications lead at SAP, said it is important to focus on quality over quantity of content. We recently sat down with Dante to expand on that comment and talk about how he approaches thought leadership.

MC: You said it’s important to focus on quality over quantity of content. In your opinion, what are the components of high-quality thought leadership content?

Dante: I think there are three factors that make content high quality.

First, it has to be a bit provocative. It needs to show that you and your organization think there may be a different or better approach to accomplish the outcome the reader is looking for. That theme should resonate with the hearts and minds of those readers and be different than what others in the market are saying about the subject. Being provocative doesn’t mean being risky; it just means your company may have an approach that is better than the status quo.

You also need to have a clear, concise message. People are using mobile devices and they’re not going to read 15-page pieces on small devices. Rather, they need content that is shorter and more immediately impactful.

Finally, you have to make it credible. We use relevant statistics or facts backing up our statements or clear examples from customers who have followed that same approach or used the technological approach we talked about enabled by our partners and SAP.

MC: We have found people need to engage with different types of content. What is your favorite mix?

Dante: When we build thought leadership, we align the topics we want to cover with the other teams within SAP and with relevant partners, then we build a package around each topic. For example, we may start with a research-based white paper. Then we use that as the basis for building out different content types, like an infographic and blogs linking to the white paper. One piece of thought leadership may go out in four or five different channels and structures.

MC: Do you do any video for thought leadership?

Dante: We love video, but focus them mostly around how customers are using technology. I think those types of videos are the most impactful way to show people how their colleagues are using technology to improve.

MC: That makes sense. Back to the thought leadership, what is your approach to developing a content strategy?

Dante: I align to the corporate strategy and go-to-market strategy for the specific industry and topic area. The content strategy should be focused on building content aligning both the corporate strategy and our customers’ issues that we can help solve by delivering relevant innovative solutions addressing their business needs. We ask ourselves many questions before we choose a topic, such as: What capabilities do we have in our solution offerings that can help our customers achieve their mission? What insights can we convey that will help them achieve their mission? What are areas where we co-innovate with our customers leveraging design-thinking methodology?

I also suggest creating some type of scorecard — building a content strategy, but not executing on it and being accountable for it is not very helpful. Our scorecard includes the impact on market awareness measured by SAP Share of Voice, where we are, what the status is, next steps, and expected due dates for content. You need to constantly assess, realign, and stay accountable for your strategy based on analyst, customer, and partner feedback.

MC: Once you have this content plan, how do you drive the audience to those pieces? What kind of strategies are you using to make sure that they get seen?

Dante: This is an interesting question because I think there are a lot of different ways you could do this. Our aim at SAP is to build the highest quality and impactful content. High quality trumps quantity in my experience. We embed the content into social media — all the relevant digital channels. We send content to industry influencers and customers, and engage with them at their preferred communities.

The point is, you can’t just develop a quality piece of content and assume people will find it. You have to actively push it out.

MC: Finally, just out of curiosity, who are some of the thought leaders you follow?

Dante: I follow people who lead with purpose, whether that is helping others or helping the world become a better place. The SAP company purpose is closely aligned with my personal interests.

I follow my best friend, Sean Burch. He’s got eight world records for climbing mountains and doing all kinds of expeditions. His purpose in the world is not only to climb mountains and do interesting expeditions, but he likes to tie those together with purpose. For example, when he goes to a place like Nepal, he will collect donations and make deliveries while he’s there, and spend time helping others and volunteering. I think that’s neat.

I like Dan Rockwell because he really helps me think as a manager, as a person at a workplace, how to improve things. Lolly Daskal is motivational in terms of thinking about helping the world become a better place.

I also follow the World Economic Forum. They use fact-based graphs and charts that are easy to read and help clarify my thoughts around our global issues. And I recently started following Richard Branson — he is definitely someone who leads with purpose.

There you go, some good reading to follow up on! Thank you Dante for taking the time to speak with us.

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Marketing After Hours http://marketconnectionsinc.com/marketing-after-hours/ Thu, 18 May 2017 07:31:40 +0000 http://marketconnectionsinc.com/?p=8622 Anyone marketing to the federal government knows the challenges many prospects face with accessing content. In fact, working around blocked websites and other technical challenges is a factor in creating a content strategy. Those barriers don’t mean you can’t reach federal decision makers via new channels. Like most people, federal decision makers also own personal…Read More

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personal devicesAnyone marketing to the federal government knows the challenges many prospects face with accessing content. In fact, working around blocked websites and other technical challenges is a factor in creating a content strategy.

Those barriers don’t mean you can’t reach federal decision makers via new channels. Like most people, federal decision makers also own personal mobile devices, and they use those devices to engage with work-related content. According to the 2017 Federal Marketing Content Review study, three quarters of federal decision makers are doing that during their commute.

Think about it: during that time when they are transitioning between personal and work life, they choose to learn about the products and services that can help them in their job. They’re watching videos, reading case studies and white papers and seeing what industry thought leaders are saying about market trends.

That means it’s critical to create a mobile-first design and distribute content on platforms that are designed for mobile, such as LinkedIn and Spotify.

Are you creating content with the thought that your buyer will engage with it during a commute? In addition to mobile-first design, what considerations do you take into account?

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