Early engagement is a great way to gain insight into public sector buyers’ needs and use the information to enhance your marketing efforts. It creates opportunities for all marketers and suppliers who want to increase their chances of winning a B2G contract.
In fact, early engagement in public sector procurement is considered the norm and anyone who wants to get into the B2G procurement market would do well to familiarise themselves with early engagement best practices, so they aren’t at a disadvantage when compared to their competitors.
Early Engagement and Under-Threshold Contracts
The UK government sets a threshold amount in public procurement, which is the dividing line between buyers having to publish tenders on public sector platforms and having the freedom to pick a business out of a supplier pool. Procurement thresholds in 2023 are £12,000 for central government procurement contracts, and £30,000 for sub-central procurement contracts.
Contracts above the public procurement threshold must be published, while those under the threshold give buyers freedom of choice. So, suppliers who take advantage of early market engagement in procurement and ensure they stand out in the crowd are more likely to be remembered than those under the radar. For savvy B2G suppliers, early engagement is the best way to take advantage of low government procurement thresholds and generate high-quality leads.
Early engagement also enables suppliers to prove their value before any decisions are made. They can do this by providing advice pertinent to the sector, which could save buyers money and time, reduce waste, streamline procurement processes, etc. For example, buyers involved in construction projects might appreciate news about a new type of cement which makes concrete twice as strong.
How early engagement leads to high-quality lead generation
There are several marketing methods that can be used early in the engagement process to help secure qualified leads.
Webinars are great for creating brand awareness and establishing yourself as a specialist in your field. Both of which are crucial in early engagement when you need something that sets you apart from all the other businesses competing for B2G procurement contracts.
Creating successful webinars
Webinars are fairly easy to put together and they needn’t cost the earth. You need a goal and a relevant topic. If your goal is to create brand awareness, topic options include:
1) Introduction with areas of specialisation, unique solutions, professional accreditation, and branding. You can put your logo on a dais, branded coffee cup, and perhaps a branded tie. Use slides with your company name at the top and a discrete logo in a bottom corner.
2) Pick your main service or best seller and create a webinar that blends sales and tutorials. It can be tricky to find a balance but that’s where a public procurement marketing company comes in. They have the experience and the expertise to script and stage webinars that draw in your target audience and leave an indelible imprint on their minds.
3) Pick a pain point and solve it. You don’t have to give away trade secrets, but you should showcase your genius and innovation, especially where what you offer differs from your competitors.
Important things to remember.
- Spend time on the script. Now, most webinars are intended to be live and live events sometimes go in directions unimagined and that’s ok. But, you need to be able to bring the event back on track and a script will help you do that.
- Money spent on production value isn’t wasted. You’re not remaking Avatar, but you need a good camera, good sound, and a good set that enables your presenter to move around without tripping over cords.
- You must market the webinar. Think about which marketing channels are most likely to garner attention. Social media is usually a preferred option, but not all social media platforms are appropriate for public procurement.
LinkedIn is a good option because it’s the best-known professional networking site, although Twitter can be useful, especially with the right hashtags.
- Include a live Q&A. Q&A sessions are a great way to interact with your audience, which is important. It’s your chance to really engage your audience, get to know them, and get a better understanding of their real pain points and needs.
You could even create a follow-up webinar that specifically addresses problems brought up in the Q&A. This shows that your company is responsive – and pays attention to what your audience says.
- Make the webinar available on-demand. There are two good reasons for this: 1) Attendees may want to refer back to your presentation, and 2) people interested in the webinar might already have a full calendar. They’ll appreciate being able to access it after the fact.
Live events and webinars serve much the same purpose; opportunities to interact with your target audience, increase brand awareness, and establish yourself as a force to be reckoned with in the field.
Live events enable in-person networking, which is an effective way of building relationships. They also give you an opportunity to put a human face on your business, making you more relatable.
Benefitting from live events
Live events are a great opportunity to generate brand awareness while showcasing your product or service.
Procurex hosts some of the most highly recommended events, including Procurex National, Procurex Scotland, Procurex Ireland, and Procurex Wales. There are two ways in which you can use the events to your advantage. You can be a sponsor or an exhibitor. Both options are excellent for early engagement.
Specific benefits include:
1) Meet and engage with key decision-makers from around the UK (and quite possibly further abroad).
2) Sharing the stage with industry leaders, and being considered an industry leader as a result.
3) Build brand awareness with things like branded coffee mugs, stationery, lanyards, and USB flash drives.
4) Generate leads by impressing attendees with your industry knowledge, the uniqueness of your product/service, and a sales spiel that doesn’t come across as an obvious sales spiel.
Important things to remember
- Decide if you want to be an exhibitor or sponsor. Both have pros and cons; for instance, exhibitors can interact with an audience, answer questions, and keep chatter informative and informal. On the other hand, sponsorships can benefit businesses with a very limited budget or that don’t have the time and personnel to design, create, and manage an engaging stall.
- You don’t need a large stall to make an impact. Stands come in various sizes from epic to table tops. As we know, size doesn’t matter, so a well-thought-out, creative display on a table can be even more effective than a boring double stand.
- Use your exhibition stand to demonstrate the effectiveness of your service/product. If it’s not something that is easily demonstrated (too big, perhaps) try to create a mock-up so that decision-makers have a visual of your offering. Visuals are very impactful marketing tools.
- Sponsorships also needn’t cost the Earth. Big budgets can be headline sponsors, but there might be an opportunity to co-sponsor goodie bags, which is an opportunity for attendees to take your brand home with them.
Email marketing works well for establishing early contact, faciliating engagement, and generating high-quality leads. To get those leads, however, you need to come up with a strategy. A generalised email blast isn’t going to get you anywhere, especially if this is the first time you’re reaching out to your audience.
Personalisation is the only way to go. Your audience must feel like you’re talking to them; use their names and/or job titles, and pain points. Tell them why you have the solution and mention a successful track record.
Compelling email campaigns
1) Nail the subject line. Aim for something attention-grabbing, semi-salesy, and succinct. Avoid shouting with ALL CAPS and don’t try to convince the recipient that it’s exciting with mulitple exclamation marks!!
2) Optimise the intro/preview. Recipients should have a good idea of what’s to come based on the first sentence or two and should want to read more. Don’t worry if writing is not your strong point. Cadence Marketing has public sector content specialists who know how to phrase subject lines and previews and incorporate optimisation as necessary.
3) Eye-catching design. Colour, font, images, readability – those must be at the forefront of email design. Marketing specialists can take care of the design process for you, using their expertise to entice recipients to open and then read the entire email.
Important things to remember
- Ensure you are GDPR compliant. The General Data Protection Regulation governs the use of personal information by any organisation, including the government. According to the GDPR, organisations must adhere to data protections principles:
- Fair, lawful, and transparent use
- Limited use – for explicit purposes
- Data protection and security, including access, loss, and damage
- Include legitmate, verifiable contact details, like your business’s email address and physical address, including number, street name, post town, and postal code.
- Ensure the opt-out process is clear. Don’t make recipients hunt for a way out; make the Unsubscribe link easy to find and use. Your automated opt-out system must remove the contact within 10 business days.
Leave Your Early Engagement In The Hands Of Experienced Public Procurement Marketing Agencies
Early engagement might sound simple enough but when you get down to the nitty gritty, generating quality leads is surprisingly nuanced and best left to B2G marketing specialists. Cadence Marketing has over 40 years’ experience in the UK’s public procurement sector, giving us the expertise to manage all aspects of public sector. We provide support to the public and private sectors, enabling both sides to leverage their assets and succeed in the B2G market.
Why not contact us and book a free consultation to find out how our experts can take your business’s marketing to the next level. We’ll discuss which set of services best suits your needs.