Successful marketing to the Intelligence Community requires more than a professional looking capabilities statement and a handful of occasional meetings. While the Intelligence Community shares common marketing elements with other federal agencies, the IC is different in the way one should direct marketing efforts.
In order to win contracts and create Intelligence Community Jobs, an integrated approach is required that addressees three major segments of the business:
· Core Competencies
· Business Development
Each of these segments is critical and interrelated and requires major efforts to ensure success. Together they are parts of an integrated plan. However efforts in one area certainly affect the other two key elements.
Winning business in the IC is all about a strong value added proposition that is relevant to the needs of the community. It is not enough to have a product or service offering that works in the commercial world or in other federal agencies. The Intelligence Community, like all customers purchases on the basis of value added to meet their own very specific mission requirements, and perceived value is the basis of the purchase decision.
Core competencies are the heart of the company’s value added proposition and must be real based upon past performance and experience. Further, the list of core competencies must be presented in a way that is clearly perceived as valuable by the IC.
A clear explanation of the value proposition is required. Most companies prepare a bulleted listing of Core Competencies that addresses those services it provides best, and then post this list to their web site and go no further. Sometimes a separate capabilities statement in power point form is developed but often this is no more than a bulleted list without further clarification.
As a result only a portion of the true value proposition is established. More detail is required that will support aggressive, effective promotion in order to support a business development effort. For example, it is not enough to merely list that your company is a “software developer”. This competency needs to be described in further detail including languages used, techniques and processes applied and standards complied with. Often, detailed past performance examples aid in the perception of added value.
A suggested first step is the addition of rich content to the corporate website that expands the technical details of the core competencies. This content, in the form of white papers and other technical discussions like technical briefings can be easily included on the website and will show to the customer that the company is serious. The more explanatory data the better.
Next, marketing collateral in the form of professional looking capability statements, tri-fold brochures and other explanatory handouts and summary of past performance on relevant projects is also an effective way of communicating core capabilities.
Expanding the core competencies and preparing presentations in a form that can reach out to the business prospects definitely aids the business development effort.
Business development is a total process and includes a great deal more than merely making contacts and handing out business cards. In order to succeed the business developer needs to target and understand the needs of potential customers. This requires extra effort in the IC because of the security needs of the community.
There are literally thousands of business developers addressing the Intelligence Community but only a small portion are truly successful. It takes more than a general knowledge of proposal preparation or superficial contacts to succeed.
The first step is to gain a complete knowledge of the needs of the customer and this takes research and homework particularly for the Intelligence Community. Research takes time and commitment because the IC restricts access to the inner working of agencies in the community. But, with a rigorous program of research and networking, business opportunities will develop. It is not, however, a process that produces quick results.
The Intelligence Community has specific needs and missions. In all there are 16 agencies that make up the Intelligence community but the lion’s share of the business comes from four agencies that collect, interpret and disseminate intelligence. These are the National Security Agency (NSA- SIGINT and Cyber), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA – HUMINT), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO- IMINT) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA – GEOSPATIAL). There are other agencies as well but the big four are industries by themselves.
Each agency has specifically defines missions with different requirements in order to meet those missions. In addition buying patterns are different from agency to agency. As a result, research is required to identify the specific needs of each agency that is targeted and the corporate core competencies must address these needs.
In addition, domain experience in the form of prior work in the agency is important. This can be achieved by joining a bidding team that has domain experience and presenting core competencies that add value to the team.
Expectations must be set realistically. It takes effort and persistence to penetrate an agency but once you achieve that goal the rewards are large. The Intelligence Community is critical to the nation’s security and will be around for years to come.
Recruiting and Intelligence Community Jobs
For service suppliers and system integrators, supplying highly qualified candidates with the proper security clearances is the goal of a well run business development effort. But many companies, even large companies, overlook the importance of recruiting.
In the Intelligence Community, recruiting is as important as winning contracts and many contractors have failed because they have been unable to supply the FTE’s (Jobs or Full Time Equivalents)required by the contract. It is often said of many service providers and systems integrators that their business assets go home every night. The inability to maintain a viable employee bases is a matter of survival for these companies. Revenue is based upon billable hours created by employees.
Many factors must be considered when creating an effective recruiting process. The first is the application of best recruiting practices to the effort. This requires rigorous standards for qualification and an effective qualification process. Sources of resumes must be evaluated and used and a management database is required to manage large amounts of data in the form of resumes of new applicant.
Recruiting is a constant process because existing employees leave or change jobs as customer requirements change. The qualifications of potential new hires is also a constantly changing process as core competencies change and customer missions are modified.
As a result, marketing to the Intelligence Community and the creation of Intelligence Community jobs is a demanding effort. Each step in the process is interrelated to the other area of effort and in order to be successful, care must be taken to have a successful integrated approach.