Why ITAR Compliance Is Critical For Defense Contractor Marketing

Do you want to increase your defense firm’s overseas sales?  ITAR compliance provides not just legal, but also business development benefits.

ITAR Compliance Defense Contractor Marketing

Thomas B. McVeyThis guest post is by Tom McVey, the Chair of the International Section at the Williams Mullen law firm in Washington, D.C. Mr. McVey focuses his practice on international business law, including the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the Export Administration Regulations, U.S. sanctions programs administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the anti-boycott laws and CFIUS. [Read more…]

How Defense Contractors Should Respond To Critics on Social Media

Defense contractors will always be criticized by a vocal minority. That does not mean they should eschew social media. Here’s how to respond.

Defense Contractor Social Media Response

Defense contractors are often the target of criticism. While they sell legally authorized products and services, they can’t shake the perception held by some of being evil merchants of death. And with the Internet and social media, critics of anything have megaphone. [Read more…]

The Content Marketing Field Manual for Defense Contractors

Has your defense firm hesitated with content marketing because you didn’t know exactly what to do? You now have a field manual. 

Defense Contractor Content Marketing

When I was a field artillery lieutenant, my first assignment was as a Fire Direction Officer (FDO) in a howitzer battery. The FDO supervised the communication with forward observers and the calculation of firing data (e.g. elevation, deflection, fuze type and setting, amounts of propellant, etc.) that was sent to the howitzer crews. [Read more…]

Winning Government Contract Proposals: The Ultimate 19-Point Checklist

Does developing a winning government contract proposal seem impossible? It doesn’t have to if you follow these proven, effective principles.

winning government contract proposals

Jim McCarthyThis guest post is by Jim McCarthy, Principal Owner and Technical Director, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI), a federal contracting proposal and business development consulting firm. Since 1983, KSI has helped clients win over $130 billion in federal contracts. 

To some, managing a complex major proposal is a fearsome task. It doesn’t need to be if you keep some foundational principles in mind. Next time you face a significant proposal challenge, fall back on these principles that winning contractors follow:

[Read more…]

Defense Contractor Website Design: Why Fire And Forget Is Best

Is your defense firm’s website optimized for mobile devices? It needs to be. With responsive web design, your site will be good to go on any device.

Responsive Web Design Defense Contractors

Are you reading this on a mobile device? If so, you’re in the majority. It’s true: Internet use on mobile devices has surpassed desktop computers.

[Read more…]

29 Reasons Why Government Contract Proposals Fail

When you prepare government contract proposals, is failure an option? If not, here’s your chance to learn from the mistakes of others. And win.

Winning Government Contracts

Jim McCarthyThis post is based on a presentation delivered at the Veterans In Business Conference. The presentation was made by Jim McCarthy, Principal Owner and Technical Director, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI), a federal contracting proposal and business development consulting firm. Since 1983, KSI has helped clients win over $130 billion in federal contracts.

As sweepstakes rules often state, “Many will enter, few will win.” The same applies to winning government contracts. But the winning contractors don’t place their odds on chance. They follow best practices to help them consistently submit winning proposals. Sadly, government contractors who submit losing proposals commit a lot of unforced errors that fall into five areas:

[Read more…]

The 2014 Inc. 5000 Defense Contractors

The 2014 Inc. 5000 did not break out defense contractors separately, so I did. Here you go.

Inc.5000 Defense Contractors

Amidst declining defense budgets, the number of defense contractors on the 2014 Inc. 5000 declined -7%, from 94 to 87.

[Read more…]

6 Marketing Trends Defense Contractors Should Exploit Now

Are you frustrated trying to reach government buyers amidst declining defense budgets and fewer trade shows? Your marketing is about to improve. Here’s how.  

defense contractor marketing trends

Survey RespondentsMarket Connections has released its sixth annual Federal Media & Marketing Study™. The report analyzes media usage of 3,700 federal decision makers, as well as their demographics, job function and purchasing habits. Just over one half of the respondents are in a defense- or military-related government agency.

[Read more…]

2014 Defense News Top 100 Aerospace & Defense Companies

Amidst declining defense budgets, many of the world’s top defense companies are successfully diversifying to commercial markets to reduce risk and survive.

Defense News Top 100Defense News Top 100 for 2014

2014 Defense News Top 100

According to Defense News, there is an increasingly blurred line between the defense and commercial work at some of the largest defense contractors. Many of the defense firms are leveraging their core competencies honed from military contracts and diversifying into commercial work. [Read more…]

Secrets To Epic Content Marketing For Defense Contractors

Are you having trouble getting your defense firm’s marketing messages in the orbit of the right audience? With content marketing, the force will be with you.

epic content marketing defense contractors

Wikipedia:

Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire customers. This information can be presented in a variety of formats, including news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, how-to guides, question and answer articles, photos, etc.

[Read more…]

Why Defense Contractors Should Avoid Random Acts Of Marketing

Is there a method to your defense firm’s marketing? If it’s a “spray and pray” approach, you might be practicing “random acts of marketing.” Here’s how to know.

random act of marketing

The way companies market themselves is going through jarring change right now. As it relates to advertising alone, an IBM study predicted that next 5 years will hold more change for the advertising industry than the previous 50 did.

[Read more…]

Government Contractors: Top 10 Rules of Winning Proposals

Have you wondered how some government contractors keep flying high and winning more contracts? Here’s their winning pre-flight checklist.

winning proposals government contractors


Jim McCarthyThis post is based on a presentation delivered at the Veterans In Business Conference. The presentation was made by Jim McCarthy, Principal Owner and Technical Director, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI), a federal contracting proposal and business development consulting firm. Since 1983, KSI has helped clients win over $130 billion in federal contracts.

With a nod to David Letterman, Jim presented the top 10 rules for winning proposals. Drum roll please!

[Read more…]

The 11 Best Practices For Winning Government Contracts

The “new normal” of government contracting is a tough adjustment. And yet, many contractors are thriving. Here’s how they are winning the proposal process.

winning government proposals


Jim McCarthyThis post is based on a presentation delivered at the Veterans In Business Conference. The presentation was made by James K. McCarthy, Principal Owner and Technical Director, AOC Key Solutions, Inc., a federal contracting proposal and business development consulting firm. Since 1983, KSI has helped clients win over $130 billion in federal contracts.

At the beginning of Jim’s presentation he talked about “The New Normal” of government contacting, adding that “the storm clouds have formed.” While there has been some signs of life of late in various government market sectors, the market has not rebounded as fast or as robustly has some observers had hoped. [Read more…]

Why Defense Contractors Should Invest More In Content Than Events

Is your defense firms’ business development being crimped by cutbacks to government travel and events? You can fill that void with content marketing.

Defense Contractor Content Marketing

It’s no surprise to defense contractors that there are fewer conferences and events these days. And for the foreseeable future there will be fewer events at which face-to-face business development can take place.

[Read more…]

Fortune 500 Aerospace & Defense Companies (2014)

One defense contractor on the Fortune 500 is amongst the 20 biggest stock gainers this year. And all defense firms are stepping up their marketing efforts.

FORTUNE 500 AEROSPACE & DEFENSE

The most interesting thing about this year’s Fortune 500 aerospace and defense list is that one company also appeared on the list of “20 Biggest Stock Gainers.” Huntington Ingalls Industries has bucked the defense industry category and posted a one-year total return of +109%.

[Read more…]

How Defense Contractors Can Win At Social Media Marketing

Have you been thinking about ramping up your aerospace & defense firm’s social media but are still trying to get your arms around it? Here’s how to get started. And succeed.

Defense Contractor Social Media

Social media is one of the most significant communications advancements since the invention of the printing press. It is changing the way people communicate, do research and make decisions. It is changing long-established industries, institutions and even governments. Social media is not going away.

[Read more…]

How Defense Contractors Can Boost Win Ratios With Thought Leadership

Ever wonder how winning defense contractors boost their contract win percentages? One tactic that is increasingly effective is thought leadership.

Defense Contractor Thought Leadership

Amidst great wailing and gnashing of teeth, the post-sequestration environment for defense contractors has introduced dramatic and permanent change. Yet despite the media attention given to the changing procurement landscape, there are contractors who continue to win contracts and grow. And not just the enormous, publicly traded prime contractors.

[Read more…]

9 Ways Aerospace & Defense Contractors Can Boost Blog Traffic

Great blog content alone is not enough to get more traffic, readers, advocates and contracts. These nine tactics will get your blog discovered by more of the right people.

9 Ways Defense Contractors Can Increase Blog TrafficIn the not-to-distant marketing past, an aerospace and defense company’s marketing arsenal included a relatively small number of weapons. Examples include advertising, direct mail, trade shows, news releases, event sponsorships, etc.

[Read more…]

How Blogging Can Help Aerospace & Defense Firms Sell More

In an era where buyers now find vendors, aerospace and defense companies keen on commercial diversification can increase awareness and preference by blogging.

how blogging can help aerospace and defense firms develop new business

In  CSC’s annual Aerospace & Defense Market Survey, most challenges facing aerospace and defense companies were not surprising in the face of “defense cutbacks, program cancellations and uncertainty.” One challenge, however, was indicative of a changing defense industry where many contractors are embracing commercial diversification. Specifically, “Defense companies seeking new relationships with commercial suppliers to sell unused capacity and assets.”

[Read more…]

How International Marketing Is Helping One Defense Contractor Thrive

Defense contractors looking to balance out declining defense budgets are diversifying their product portfolios and going overseas. Here’s one example.

 Textron Marketing

Sometimes I think I’m the only person writing about defense contractor marketing. But I’m not – the chatter is increasing as marketing becomes more important to defense contractors. So much so that I’m seeing more and more articles about the subject.

[Read more…]

4 Things Defense Contractors Should Know For Better Press Coverage

Looking to get more press coverage for your company? Walking a day in a reporter’s shoes and becoming a resource for journalists can help your defense firm stand out.

defense contractor media relations

Defense contractors, like many companies, often seek out the news media to raise their profiles. A steady stream of positive press coverage can help companies achieve their business objectives.

[Read more…]

The Emotional High-Stakes World of Defense Contractors

What’s the difference between marketing a shampoo and a defense contractor? A lot.

Don Draper

After the Army, I worked on New York’s Madison Avenue at ad industry giants JWT and Grey. I worked on a variety of package goods accounts including Listerine, Wisk Detergent, and Lever 2000 deodorant soap. Recently I was interviewed by 2paragraphs about the difference between marketing shampoo and a defense contractor. Here’s my response. What other differences would you add?

[Read more…]

Why Aerospace and Defense Contractors Should Jettison Press Releases

For effective PR, aerospace and defense contractors should chuck their reliance on press releases and leverage their own websites and social media. 

Why Aerospace and Defense Contractors Should Jettison Press Releases
An F-22 jettisons an external fuel tank.

Press releases (also known as news releases) have been around since before World War I. For most of that time, press releases were integral to a company’s effort to try and tell their story through the news media.

[Read more…]

How Defense Contractors Can Get Found By Customers They Don’t Know

With modern inbound marketing, defense contractors can get found by a lot more prospective customers. Especially buyers they don’t know.

defense contractor business development

I speak with a lot of aerospace and defense contractor business development people about what they do.

Interestingly, some of them assume they know who all of their prospective customers are. But yet, they’ve all been contacted by prospects they’ve never heard of.

[Read more…]

Defense Contractors: How To Help Your Boss Understand Modern Marketing

One challenge for defense industry marketers is getting management to understand and approve new marketing methods. One successful approach is to educate with questions.

Understanding Modern Marketing

With all the change occurring in the marketing world, marketing professionals are constantly challenged to learn new skills and keep up with the latest trends.

But to many defense industry marketers, the even bigger challenge can be getting their management to understand and adopt more of the “new” marketing strategies and tactics such as inbound marketing.

[Read more…]

Defense News 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense (2013)

The latest list includes America’s enemies and focuses more on policy, budget and strategic issues, and less on personnel and veterans issues. 

Defense News Top 100 Most Influential People

defense news top 100

Each year, the editors and reporters for Defense News (a Gannett publication) compile a new list of the 100 most influential people in U.S. defense. The list actually has more than 100 people since some of the slots represent broad groups like “The Lobbyists” (15 people) or “Wall Street” (17) or “The Oracles” (25). By my count, the total list includes 179 people.

[Read more…]

How Aerospace and Defense Contractors Can Get More Media Coverage

The most effective way to get more news coverage is changing. Here’s how to be more successful.

defense industry press coverage

In the old days of PR (which means recently), success at getting media coverage for your company was due in part to building lists of reporters, blasting out news releases (via mail, fax or email), pitching editors with the tenacity of a cold-calling sales person, asking favors, etc. Looking back, it was a shotgun approach to glorified begging in order to get as much media share of voice as possible.

[Read more…]

Top 100 Aerospace Companies – 2013

Despite declining defense budgets and a stagnant economy, aerospace industry profitability remains strong, and M&A activity should increase.

top aerospace companies 2013

The latest list of the Top 100 Aerospace Companies, compiled by Flight Global and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (“PwC”), has been released:

Our Top 100 analysis of aerospace industry 2012 financial performance sees no change in the top 10, but a number of new names – from China and Russia, and from acquisition-driven reshuffling that may herald shifts to come.

[Read more…]

National Journal Takes The Stick For Pentagon’s Early Bird Newsletter

National Journal’s Early Bird has been launched to fill the void created by the retirement of the Pentagon’s Early Bird newsletter.

National Journal Early Bird
photo credit: Oslo_Lego via photopin cc

With the Pentagon’s decision to discontinue production of Early Bird, an early morning newsletter with a devoted following among the defense community, National Journal has announced that it will fill the void with National Journal’s Early Bird, a new early morning newsletter that will offer the same up-to-the-second coverage of defense policy that made the Pentagon’s product a must-read.

[Read more…]

Defense Contractors: Are You Locked And Loaded For Foreign Sales?

With recent changes to U.S. law aimed at reducing red tape, American aerospace and defense contractors now have more of an edge in selling to foreign countries. 

defense contractor international sales
photo credit: André Gustavo Stumpf via photopin cc

Recently, as part of the President’s Export Control Reform Initiative, the U.S. State Department moved a number of highly regulated items from the U.S. Munitions List to the less regulated Commerce Control List.

This means that items such as aircraft, military aircraft parts, and gas turbine engines can now be sold to foreign nations with a lot less bureaucratic red tape.

[Read more…]

The 2 Big Reasons Why Defense Contractors Should Use Email Marketing

Defense contractors who overlook the power and cost effectiveness of email marketing do so at their own peril.

photo credit: familymwr via photopin cc
photo credit: familymwr via photopin cc

When I discuss marketing with business owners and managers in and out of the aerospace and defense industry, there is a fascination with shiny objects. The shiny objects I’m referring to are marketing tactics that are perceived as newer and more cutting edge, etc. This is especially true with social media.

[Read more…]

How Defense Contractors Can Hook More Leads From Website Traffic

Armed with a content marketing strategy, defense contractors can convert more of their website traffic into business development opportunities.

defense contactor lead generation
Henry Koerner, 1943

When I talk to defense contractors about their marketing, a paradox about lead generation comes up.

  • On the one hand, defense contractors have mixed emotions about trade shows. They question whether they are getting value (i.e. business development leads) from them. They also express concern about the increasing costs and decreasing attendance of many trade shows.
  • On the other hand, a lot of defense contractors are not using their websites to generate quality leads. Many of the websites are essentially static, online brochures which don’t generate much traffic, and even less returning traffic.

[Read more…]

Why Defense Companies Are Arming Themselves For Marketing Warfare

As defense contractors adapt to a declining marketplace for their products, they are diversifying into areas where marketing plays a larger role.

Defense Contractor Diversification

In a Forbes article “Five Reasons Defense Companies Need To Start Getting Out of Defense,” the author Loren Thompson, CEO of the Lexington Institute, bluntly makes the case that seismic shifts beyond the Pentagon are signaling a long-term softening in demand for military goods.

[Read more…]

15 Reasons Why More Aerospace & Defense CEOs are “Liking” Social Media

A growing number of aerospace and defense CEOs are embracing social media because it makes business sense. They are not alone in their thinking.

Raytheon's Bill Swanson Twitter Cufflinks

Shown here is a Twitter logo on the cufflink of Bill Swanson, Chairman and CEO of Raytheon.

According to Wikipedia, “Raytheon Company is a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics.” The company has 68,000 employees and revenues of $24.857 billion.  It is #5 on the Defense News Top 100.

[Read more…]

How Defense Contractors Can Draft a Social Media Policy in 5 Minutes

Defense contractors who enlist the help of their employees in company social media efforts can quickly increase awareness, preference and business opportunities. Here’s how to get started.

defense contractor social media policy

Over 500 years ago when the printing press was invented, it was not immediately embraced. In fact, many rulers and church leaders were threatened by how the printing press could be used to challenge their authority and the status quo.

There are parallels to today with the Internet and social media. Both have upended companies, entire industries and even governments. And the change is happening in real time.

[Read more…]

How Brand Journalism Can Elevate A Defense Contractor’s Marketing

Aerospace and defense contractors moving to a brand journalism approach to marketing can increase awareness, understanding and sales of their products and services.

Aerospace & Defense Brand Journalism
Raytheon Home Page

Brand journalism is a relatively new marketing term. It describes the practice of using digital publishing and social media tools to speak directly to customers, prospects, influencers and even the news media. It is probably one of the most significant changes happening in the media industry today.

[Read more…]

2013 Inc. 500 / 5000 Defense Contractors

The 2013 Inc. 5000 did not break out defense contractors separately, so I did. Here you go.

2013 Inc. 5000 Defense Contractors

Amidst declining defense budgets and sequestration, the number of defense contractors on the 2013 Inc. 5000 declined -25%, from 126 to 94. Just less than half the defense contractors on last year’s list remained (56). There are 38 defense contractors new to the list.

[Read more…]

How One Defense Contractor Is Using Content Marketing To Boost Sales

Defense contractors are using content marketing to build awareness, improve lead generation and strengthen customer retention and loyalty. 

Defense Contractor Marketing

The most recent Aviation Week and CSC A&D Market Survey confirmed the growing interest in diversification within the aerospace and defense industry:

Where until recently federal and government markets were seen as the source of growth and prosperity, companies are instead focusing on the commercialization of existing products — first domestically, then internationally.

[Read more…]

Defense Contractor Content Marketing: The Business Development Afterburner

Defense contractors who develop marketing content that is solution-based, properly mapped and more than just text can increase their leads, contracts and customer engagement.

Defense Contractor Content Marketing
Image: U.S. Navy

Yesterday I attended a defense industry workshop about growing international sales. It was well attended and had a large number of midsize and smaller defense contractors (the primes already have successful international sales processes in place).

The discussions were wide-ranging and included familiar topics like International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

But there were also discussions of a less familiar topic to defense contractors: marketing.

[Read more…]

Why Content Matters More Than Budget in Defense Contractor Marketing

For defense contractors marketing their firms, quality content is becoming more important than the size of their marketing budgets. Here’s why.

defense contractor content marketing

In marketing, one of the biggest shifts created by the Internet has been from space to attention:

  • Before the Internet, marketing’s core constraint was space. That could include the size of an ad, the length of a TV or radio commercial, the dimensions of a trade show booth, direct mail piece, etc. Money was the most important factor.
  • With the Internet, there is almost no space constraint. Websites can have a nearly infinite number of pages, multiple emails can be sent, videos can play for hours. Quality content is now what matters in marketing.

[Read more…]

6 Ways Defense Contractors Can Make Their Websites More Effective

Defense contractors who follow website design best practices can demonstrate something important in the aerospace and defense industry: technical proficiency.

Defense Contractor Website

As a defense contractor, your website can be the first impression that a prospective buyer, partner or employee is going to have of you and your firm.

Setting aside your website’s content (which is ultimately more important), if the basic design of your website is driving visitors away, you might be calling attention to your lack of technical proficiency. In the aerospace and defense industry, that is not a good first impression to give.

[Read more…]

2013 Defense News Top 100 Aerospace & Defense Companies

Despite declining defense budgets, revenues for the top aerospace and defense companies are up, in part due to diversification to commercial markets.

Defense News Top 100

While total revenues for the Defense News Top 100 are up +3%, defense-related revenues are down -3%. This is the second year of declining defense-related revenues.

[Read more…]

How Defense Contractors Can Triumph With Social Media

With the right fundamentals and strategy, defense contractors can use social media to attract business opportunities, close contracts and reinforce customer relationships.Defense Contractor Social Media

In the first-ever analysis of social media attitudes and usage by defense contractors by DefenceIQ, a majority (61%) of respondents indicated that it is “essential” or “very important” to improve their online and social media presence over the next 5 years.

[Read more…]

How Online Marketing Can Help Defense Contractors Expand Overseas

Defense contractors who tailor their online presence for international buyers can develop more business in emerging markets.

defense contractor international marketing
photo credit: U.S. Embassy New Delhi via photopin cc

A National Public Radio news story outlines two realities facing defense contractors:

  1. Defense spending is shrinking in developed countries where defense budgets have been largest, especially the U.S. and Western Europe.
  2. Defense spending in emerging markets is booming.

[Read more…]

Why Marketing Is Just One of Many Changes for Defense Contractors

With warfare’s evolving nature, declining defense budgets and new competitors, the business landscape for defense contractors is changing. The need to market themselves is a sign of the times.

Defense Industry Change
photo credit: Matt From London via photopin cc

For defense contractors, a perfect storm of change is brewing:

  • Defense budgets are declining in nations that have had some of the largest budgets.
  • The nature of warfare is changing. The ascent of asymmetric and cyber warfare requires new doctrines, training, equipment and support.
  • Many companies from commercial markets are moving into the defense sector.

[Read more…]

Defense Contractors: How To Pick And Use The Right Social Media

With a social media engagement strategy, defense contractors can pick the right social media networks and send the right messages on each one to best connect with buyers and influencers.

Defense Contractor Social Media
photo credit: greyweed via photopin cc

When I speak to defense contractors, one of the most frequent questions I get is “Which social media networks should we use?”

Because there are numerous and very different social media networks, the short answer is usually something like “it depends,” and the long answer is “who are you trying to reach and what reaction do you want them to have?”

[Read more…]

Crisis PR: What Defense Contractors Can Learn From The Australian Army

When a defense contractor is hit with a public relations crisis, the best response is to be as quick, helpful and open as possible. The worst response: “no comment.”

Australian Army
© Commonwealth of Australia

In an excellent primer on crisis communications3 Rules of Crisis Communications That Never Change,”  from Ragan’s PR Daily, readers are reminded:

  1. Be Quick
  2. Be Helpful
  3. Be Open

In response to a PR crisis, Australia’s Chief of Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison, has done just that. Brilliantly.

[Read more…]

Why Defense Contractor CEOs Are Getting Serious About Social Media

Defense industry CEOs who are new to social media, but who understand the financial benefits are becoming the most passionate advocates for its use.

Defense Contractor Social Media
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (Marvel Studios)

Nearly every defense contractor CEO started their careers before social media had taken hold. As a result, for most defense industry executives, social media is one of the many things they’ve had to learn on the job.

Marketing has traditionally been a lower priority in the defense sector, and social media even less so.

[Read more…]

How Defense Contractors Can Get Their Blogs to Kick Ass and Take Names

With the right content, marketing and analysis, a defense contractor’s blog can help increase awareness, preference and contract opportunities.

Defense Contractor Blogging
photo credit: AirmanMagazine via photopin cc

Until recently, when a defense contractor wanted to increase awareness and preference as part of a larger business development effort, they had to turn to a gatekeeper. For instance, a gate keeper might have been the editor of a defense industry publication. Only with their consent could your story be told.

Or, a defense contractor might have needed to buy advertising in defense industry trade publications. At one point when I was growing up, my dad was Director of U.S. Army Aviation, so there were all kinds of cool military aviation magazines in his study. And all those magazines had defense contractor ads in them.

[Read more…]

A Preflight Email Marketing Checklist for Defense Contractors

Defense contractors who use email marketing correctly can cost-effectively increase awareness with multiple target audiences and lead them toward the action you want.

Defense Contractor Email Marketing
photo credit: DVIDSHUB via photopin cc

Last week I spoke with the CEO of an aerospace defense contractor about his company’s diversification into commercial markets. The discussion was prompted in part by the publication of McKinsey’s Defense Outlook 2015: A global survey of defense-industry executives. One part of the study points to a promising future for commercial aerospace. The study also outlined how, in an era of declining defense budgets and changing procurement strategies, defense contractors are diversifying internationally and into commercial sectors.

This comment in the report captured the change afoot in the defense industry:

Defense-­industry leaders believe their companies must change the way they do business; the question is how to do it.

[Read more…]

How Inbound Marketing Can Arm Defense Contractors For Diversification

With inbound marketing, defense contractors can cost-effectively attract the attention and interest of the right prospects in commercial markets, and nurture those relationships toward profitable contracts.

Defense Contractor Inbound Marketing
Photo: U.S. Navy

A few days ago I ran into a friend who is an executive at a defense contractor. We got to talking about the thin margins in some of his company’s shrinking Pentagon contracts. That’s when the subject of diversification came up.

His company has a few federal contracts beyond the Pentagon, but he’s been urging his management to diversify more into the commercial sector. His company has had some private sector contracts, but for the most part they were projects squeezed in between military contracts back when defense budgets were growing. My friend would like to see his company develop more commercial business.

[Read more…]

The Most Popular Defense Contractor Trade Show Swag

In a comprehensive trade show study, the thing an exhibitor can provide attendees that has the highest correlation with purchase intent is new learning. Not tchotchkes.

Defense Contractor Trade Show Marketing
photo credit: tedeytan via photopin cc

If you’ve attended enough trade shows, you’ve seen them. They get bags with an exhibitor’s logo on the outside and then hit the trade show floor with one mission: to pick up as many promotional items as they can stuff in the bag(s). The effort they put into picking up exhibitor swag can resemble an episode of Supermarket Sweep.

[Read more…]

The 7 Secrets to Successful Blogging for Defense Contractors

With the right tactics, defense contractors can use blogging to increase awareness and preference, recruit top talent and expand their business development opportunities.

Defense Contractor Blogging Secrets
photo credit: RestrictedData via photopin cc

If you think back 15+ years, most companies had or were beginning to get their own websites. Now, all defense contractors have websites, but those on the cutting edge of business development are blogging. It’s similar to the mid 1990s with the advent of websites, except now it’s blogs that are becoming mainstream.

The reason for the adoption and growth of blogs is because they are the single most effective marketing tactic available today.

[Read more…]

Why Defense Contractors Can’t Afford Not to Have a Blog

Defense contractors who blog can profit from all the benefits it provides, including increased awareness and more effective business development.

In the movie Zero Dark Thirty, which dramatized the operation that found and killed Osama bin Laden, one of my favorite scenes was short and probably overlooked by many.

Defense Contractor Blogging
Photo: Columbia Pictures

In the scene, a CIA officer was asking the National Security Advisor for support to launch the risky operation to try and kill or capture bin Laden. The National Security Advisor was skeptical, reminding the CIA officer …I was in the room when your old boss pitched WMD Iraq…at least there you guys brought photographs.”

The CIA officer responded, You know, you’re right, I agree with everything you just said. What I meant was, a man in your position, how do you evaluate the risk of not doing something…

[Read more…]

Defense Contractors: How to Properly Zero Your Website For Marketing

Defense contractors who successfully arm their websites to attract visitors and develop business have a deep understanding of their buyers and the website experience they need – and, they set up their website pages properly.

defense contractor marketing
photo credit: SPC CHEESE via photopin cc

Zeroing your website (known to civilians as website optimization) has to do with getting the right people to your site, as well as what to do with them once they get there.

[Read more…]

The One Marketing & PR Book Defense Contractors Should Read

Amidst a rapidly changing defense industry, a growing number of defense contractors are successfully harnessing the current revolution in marketing. Here’s the field manual.

New Rules of Marketing & PR 4th Edition

With so much change happening now in the marketing world, I am often asked by friends, business executives and marketing professionals about how to keep up with the latest in marketing. This question gets asked with increasing frequency because so many of the traditional marketing tactics are waning in effectiveness. I always respond that if you only read one marketing book, read The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott.

[Read more…]

Why Smart Defense Contractors Are Investing in International Marketing

With declining domestic defense budgets and increased competition, the smart money is on defense contractors who are diversifying internationally into emerging markets.

Defense Industry Marketing
photo credit: MojoBaer via photopin cc

For defense contractors, this is a time of enormous upheaval and change.

  • Defense budgets are declining in the countries that have had the largest defense budgets.
  • Traditionally non-defense companies are earning an increasingly larger slice of defense budgets.
  • The nature of military procurement is evolving away from the program management model.

As a result, to survive, defense contractors have been diversifying…

  1. To other parts of the government.
  2. To commercial markets.
  3. Overseas.

[Read more…]

Why Content is the Marketing “Silver Bullet” for Defense Contractors

With content marketing, defense contractors can increase awareness and demand for their products and services in a way their prospective buyers actually like.

Defense Contractor Silver Marketing BulletAccording to Wikipedia, “‘silver bullet’ refers to any straightforward solution perceived to have extreme effectiveness.”

Most of the time, when the term “silver bullet” is used, it is prefaced by the words “there is no” [silver bullet]. But if a defense contractor were to deploy only one marketing tactic that would have the most impact, it would be content marketing.

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The Six Social Media Skills Successful Defense Industry Execs Need Now

Defense industry executives who harness the power of social media can build more agile and responsive organizations, a capability that will soon be a critical source of competitive advantage.

Defense Industry Social Media
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Social media has changed the world like the printing press did over 500 years ago. Just much faster.

Social media has touched nearly every aspect of the business world, including the defense industry. Many companies have responded by tapping into the potential of social media to transform and better run their businesses.

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Why Successful Defense Contractors are Warming Up to Marketing

A defense contractor’s ability to compete in commercial sectors is now vital, according to a Booz & Company whitepaper that outlines defense industry challenges and prescriptions.

Defense Contractors Warming Up to Marketing
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The global management consulting firm Booz & Company, summarizes the current and future situation for many defense contractors this way:

Today’s declining budgets and changing customer requirements, and the increasing success of nontraditional competitors such as Cisco, Eurocopter, and even Boeing Commercial Airplanes signal that the industry’s status quo is likely untenable. Some portions of the sector may become more stable by spanning defense and commercial applications

The recipe for success in this type of environment can be distilled into a single imperative: manage the company as a business rather than as a collection of programs.

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Defense Contractors: How to Arm Your Website for Marketing Warfare

Defense contractors whose websites are evolving from online brochures to business development and marketing machines are gaining higher visibility and more business opportunities.

Defense Contractor Website
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For defense contractors to survive and thrive today, modern marketing techniques are essential. Specifically, they need to generate more website visitors, convert them to leads, turn those leads into customers, and continuously analyze every step of the process.

To accomplish all that, there are five keys to turning a defense contractor’s website into a lead-generating sales and marketing machine.

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How Search Engine Marketing Can Help Defense Contractors Get Found

With search engine marketing, defense contractors can cost-effectively raise their profile and develop more business opportunities.

photo credit: Official U.S. Air Force via photopin cc
photo credit: Official U.S. Air Force via photopin cc

Question: What does traditional, outbound marketing have in common with fax machines and audio cassettes?

Answer: All still exist, but because of the Internet, their heyday has passed.

Ten years ago, sellers had more control over product information than did the buyer.  So, when a business was going to buy from another business, the buyer had to contact the seller early in the process to research the purchase. Consequently, the seller could exert a lot of influence over the buyer and the ultimate sale.

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How Quora Can Enhance Defense Contractor Business Development

With Quora, defense contractors can ask and answer questions, establish thought leadership, build their network and develop more business.

quora defense contractor marketing
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According to Quora’s “About” page, “Quora is a collection of questions and answers that is created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The main goal is to be the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about each question.”

Although there are some other Q&A sites such as Yahoo Answers and Wiki Answers, Quora stands out on one respect by requiring users to provide their real names when answering questions. As a result, the site’s answer quality is extremely high. You can ask questions anonymously, however.

The Q&A site was started by two senior Facebook executives, is growing steadily, and with LinkedIn Answers being shut down and Facebook retiring its foray into the Q&A space, the future growth of Quora is very promising.

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How Thought Leadership Can Help Defense Contractors Write The RFPs They Answer

With a thought leadership marketing strategy, defense contractors can influence buyers, outflank the competition and expedite the purchase cycle.

Defense Contractor Thought Leadership
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We are transitioning from a knowledge-based economy to a wisdom-based economy. It’s no longer just about what you know, but what you do with what you know. -FORBES

Forbes has a two-part definition of a thought leader:

  1. A thought leader is an individual or firm that prospects, clients, referral sources, intermediaries and even competitors recognize as one of the foremost authorities in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual or organization for said expertise.
  2. A thought leader is an individual or firm that significantly profits from being recognized as such.

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How Defense Contractors Can Avoid Competing on Lowest Price

Defense contractors who systematically measure and monitor their customer engagement can lessen their dependence on lowest prices – and increase revenues and profitability.

defense contractor marketing engagement
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When a defense contractor wins a contract, the perception is that the process was completely rational and non-emotional, unlike a consumer purchase. But in fact, the reverse is true.

When consumers make bad purchases (with the possible exception of houses or cars), the financial and emotional impact is not usually significant or long lasting. However, when a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-government (B2G) buy goes wrong, whole careers and possibly national security are at stake.

Yet in a Gallup study of thousands of B2B relationships, it was found that most sellers don’t leverage the emotional engagement of their customers.

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Defense Contractors: Trade Show Cancelled? Market With LinkedIn Groups!

With lighter attendance or cancellation of defense industry trade shows, defense contractors can continue to make connections and network effectively with LinkedIn Groups.

Defense Contractor Marketing LinkedIn Groups

Facing certain defense industry budget cuts and uncertain economic times, the defense industry’s reliance on and use of trade shows is decreasing.

AOL Defense describes the situation this way:

The future of association military trade shows and even military conferences that require travel — even to suburban Washington — has become cloudy at best.

And while face-to-face networking is still extremely important in the defense industry, the ability to do that is becoming more difficult.

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On Social Media: Lessons for Defense Contractors From the U.S. Army

Defense contractors aiming to use social media to increase awareness and preference to survive and thrive can learn valuable lessons from one of the foremost social media marketers in the world: the U.S. Army.

Defense Contractor Social Media
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The use of social media by defense contractors is increasing.

In the first ever report on defense industry social media by DefenceIQ, over 60% of defense contractors indicated that it is “essential” or “very important” that they step up their social media presence.

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How Defense Contractors Can Better Market to the U.S. Government

Defense contractors who deploy the latest Internet marketing tactics can boost their business development efforts, and build awareness and preference with government buyers.

Selling to the Government

Mark Amtower, “Godfather of Government Marketing” and author of “Selling to the Government: What It Takes to Compete and Win in the World’s Largest Market” is an expert in marketing to the government.

In his book, he outlines the basics every company should master to tap into government markets. It is a great primer for defense contractor CEOs and business development professionals, whether they are new to government sales or seasoned pros who want to make sure they have all their bases covered in this time of procurement flux.

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How Defense Contractors Can Improve Public Relations With Twitter

Defense contractors who use Twitter correctly can develop relationships with the news media to tell their company’s story when the news is both good and bad.

defense contractor media relations
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Defense contractors who try to gain media exposure for their company can face enormous rejection.

Oftentimes the reporter is not interested in your pitch or does not know you (or your company). And usually, the reporter is busy and on a deadline. Your calls don’t get answered, your messages don’t get a response. Breaking through can seem impossible.

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Top 5 Most Popular Defense Contractor Marketing Articles from 2012

Have you kept up to date with defense contractor marketing best practices? Are you looking for actionable tips you can apply to your business? Here are Fire Support’s most read articles from 2012:

2012 Top Defense Contractor Marketing Posts
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The five defense contractor marketing posts listed below were the most read in 2012. The primary reason these were the most popular is because they were also the most shared. Thanks for sharing – and while we’re on the subject of sharing, please feel free to share THIS post with the social sharing buttons below!

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Why Defense Contractors are Reinforcing Their Websites and Social Media

Defense contractors’ websites and social media are playing an increasingly important role in selling to the military. According to an expert in selling to the government, this is a growing success factor that will become more pronounced.

Defense Contractor Websites and Social Media
Photo: U.S. Air Force

Mark Amwtower, “Godfather of Government Marketing” and author of “Selling to the Government: What It Takes to Compete and Win in the World’s Largest Market” is an expert in marketing to the government. In 1985 he founded Amtower & Associates to help clients do just that.

In a Washington Technology article (brought to my attention by Steven Bain), Amtower outlines how he has seen government marketing trends come and go. He argues, however, that there are five trends affecting government contractors that are gaining traction and cannot be ignored.

Two of the trends are related to: 1) websites, and 2) the use of social media.

Company web sites of the most successful contractors will become more informationally robust. While the company website is considered a basic, it is often taken for granted. Many ‘must do’s’ are overlooked, usually because a new shiny rock has shown up on the marketing horizon. Among those ‘must do’s’ is making the site content relevant and current, so updating the company website on a regular basis for relevance is a big must-do. Staid and stagnant web sites will not attract repeat traffic and never have. The companies that grow over the next few years will have robust, content-rich web sites.

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What Defense Contractors Should Think About When Budgeting for Marketing

With the right approach to building a marketing budget, defense contractors can clarify their business development goals, gain organizational direction for marketing and position themselves for more profitable growth.

defense contractor marketing budget
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Defense contractors budgeting for marketing are doing so in a time of great flux and change.

Defense contractors are evolving:

Similarly, the sales and marketing world is going through its own upheaval:

  • Because of the Internet, the way that people buy is changing. In the recent past, when a customer was researching a purchase, they had to interact with a salesperson fairly early in the buying process to get product information. At that point, the salesperson could exert a lot of influence as they pulled the prospective buyer down the sales funnel. Now, however, buyers can research most of a purchase without having to first make contact with a company or their sales person. On the Internet, buyers can research prices, reviews, product information, etc. In fact, studies show that in B2B purchases, buyers can be 75% through their research before they first contact the seller. [Read more…]

How Marketing Can Help Defense Contractors Survive and Thrive

With defense spending on the decline, defense contractors who want to diversify beyond the military are turning to marketing to evolve.

defense contractor marketing survival
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In a recent Forbes article, “Defense Industry Needs To Get Serious About Diversifying,” the current state of the defense industry is described this way:

The defense industry’s winter of discontent has finally arrived.  After a decade of continuously rising revenues and returns, the industry now finds itself, like Richard III in Shakespeare’s play, surrounded by players indifferent to its fate.  Having taken all the easy steps to prepare for a continuation of the post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan downturn, industry leaders now need to consider something more basic: getting out of defense.

But diversification for defense contractors involves changing the way they operate, finding customers and making sales. And that includes marketing.

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A Marketing Battle Map for Defense Contractors

Defense contractors who map their content marketing with the same thoroughness and precision as battle planners can increase awareness, generate business opportunities and get more bang for their marketing buck.

defense contractor content marketing
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The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing this way:

Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Amidst the growing number of content marketing tactics, it’s easy for defense contractors to get overwhelmed by all the different options available. It’s no surprise that one of the biggest obstacles for content marketing is getting started.

Or, companies jump into specific content marketing tactics without much planning. A “ready, fire, aim” approach takes over.

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How Defense Contractors Can Get Real Smart on SEO Real Fast

Defense contractors who master the basics of search engine optimization can improve their ability to be found online, increase awareness, reduce marketing costs and compound the benefits over the long term.

Albert Einstein SEO

For those defense contractors who want to increase awareness with prospective customers, contract partners or potential employees, one of the smartest, most cost effective things to do is make sure that their online presence is properly optimized for search engines.

In the early days of the Internet (i.e. the recent past) many perceived search engine optimization as a cross between black magic and sorcery.

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How Defense Contractors Can Use LinkedIn Company Pages for Marketing

With the new LinkedIn company page, defense contractors can increase awareness of their company and products, improve search engine rankings and generate more leads.

Defense Contractor LinkedIn Company Pages
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LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social network. Every second, two people join the network of over 160 million users in over 200 countries and territories.

The users of LinkedIn tend to be affluent and influential, and can easily discover people employed by a certain company, or various types of business someone has worked for.

Any defense contractor that is looking to connect with industry professionals and generate leads should be using LinkedIn.

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How Defense Contractors Can Build a Social Media Marketing Campaign

Defense contractors who use social media marketing are able to reach current and prospective customers more efficiently, and track the effectiveness of their marketing dollars.

defense contractor social media
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Defense contractors are increasingly aware of the benefits that can be gained from engaging in social media.

In a recent DefenceIQ report on defense industry social media, over 60% of defense contractors indicated that it is “essential” or “very important” that they step up their social media presence.

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How Buyer Personas Can Sharpen Defense Contractor Marketing

Defense contractors who develop a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy their products can form a bond of customer trust that most rivals can not overcome.

defense contractor buyer personas
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Many defense contractors have only the faintest idea what lies behind their customers’ buying decisions. They think they know, but a lot of presumption is involved.

The truth is, buying decisions are driven by emotional factors which are then justified with rational factors about the product and the price. Add to that any number of subjective factors like office politics, conflicting priorities, nationalism, and you need a sharp knife to cut through it all.

That’s why the emergence of buyer personas as a marketing tool is becoming increasingly popular.

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How Defense Contractors Can Know If Their Trade Show Marketing Works

Defense contractors who measure their trade show ROI are able to increase the effectiveness of their marketing investment and determine which shows are working. And which aren’t.

defense contractor trade show marketing
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For many defense contractors, trade show marketing is driven by one the most powerful forces on the planet: inertia.

Many companies keep going to the same trade shows every year without much hard analysis of if the trade show is generating a positive ROI. Additionally, there are other trade shows defense contractors are not attending which might be a better investment.

You can determine if a trade show is worth the investment.

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The Benefits of Social Media Monitoring for Defence Contractors

Defence contractors who monitor social media are getting valuable information to ensure security and better engage with stakeholders and detractors.

social media monitoring defence industry
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This is a guest post by Patrick Herridge, Chief Operating Officer of Social360, a London-based social media monitoring and intelligence firm with defence industry clients.

Patrick HerridgeSocial media monitoring is rapidly becoming a default service for any major business.  Whilst these tools were initially seen as largely of use for consumer facing brands, more and more B2B companies are now recognising their worth. This is nowhere more true than in the defence sector, where there are a range of ways in which monitoring the social web can bring to light valuable information.

The applications for social monitoring in the defence sector are, however, potentially different from those for other brands.  Defence, like other potentially controversial market sectors, has its own set of reasons for potentially looking at a monitoring solution.

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2012 Inc. 500 / 5000 Defense Contractors

The 2012 Inc. 5000 didn’t break out defense contractors separately, so I did. Here you go.

Inc 5000 2012

Despite the stagnant economy, the median growth rate of all 2012 Inc. 500|5000 companies remained an impressive 97 percent. The companies on this year’s list report having created over 400,000 jobs in the past three years, and aggregate revenue among the honorees reached $299 billion.

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How The Defense Industry Is Using Social Media

The first-ever analysis of the defense industry’s use of social media has been published by DefenceIQ.

Social Media in Defence 2012 DefenceIQ

DefenceIQ, the UK-based multi-media news source on global defense and military-related topics, recently surveyed defense industry professionals about the use of social media in the defense industry. The report focused on the commercial sector, “considering what benefits, if any, social media offers to defence contractors and organizations.”

Highlights

A clear majority of respondents (62%) feel it is very important that defense contractors improve their online and social media presence in the next five years.

 …the defence industry is aware of social media’s growing significance as a real­‐world business tool as well as the need to embrace it more fully in future.

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Why Defense Contractor CEOs Want More Social Media Firepower

In the next 3-5 years, social media will go from the least used customer engagement tactic to the second, surpassed only by face-to-face interaction.

defense contractor social media marketing
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IBM has released its Global CEO Study of more than 1,700 Chief Executive Officers from 64 countries and 18 industries worldwide.

The study reveals that CEOs are shedding the command-and-control nature of corporations that has existed for over a century, and introducing openness, transparency and employee empowerment. Yes, even defense contractors.

The reason for this fast-moving change: companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness as a key organizational influence.

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How Defense Contractors Can Strengthen Their Marketing with Lead Scoring

Defense contractors who use lead scoring can improve the quality of leads provided to sales, and help increase close rates and revenues.

defense contractor lead scoring
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I recently had lunch with a defense contractor who described a common problem: 

A good number of leads come in, primarily from the website, and sales follows up with every lead in chronological order. Many of the leads are not a good fit and can’t be filled. Some of the leads, however, represent potentially enormous, profitable contracts. Sales treats every lead the same.

Consequently, the sales team wastes time on “junk” leads when they should be responding most quickly to the best leads.

That’s where lead scoring can help. Lead scoring is like sales triage.

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