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

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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!

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Want to know the ROI of your marketing, but aren’t sure where to start? Here’s how to tell if your investment is measuring up.

marketing measurement

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When someone subscribes to my newsletter, I send them an email that includes this message:

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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

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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 the rest of this entry »

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

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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.

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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.


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%.

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Are you wondering if Twitter can help your defense firm? Defense contractors worldwide are leveraging the power of Twitter. Here’s how to make the most of it.

Twitter for Defense Contractors

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DefenceIQ, the UK-based news source for analysis and commentary on global defense and military-related topics, has released its first-ever list of “Top 100 Defence and Security Twitter Accounts.”

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Are you profitably leveraging the latest social media marketing trends for your defense industry firm? Here are three that will keep you flying high.

defense industry social media trends

While the adoption of social media gains traction amongst defense contractors, the attitudes and usage of social media by marketers overall continues to evolve. Social media is a moving target.

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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

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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.

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

Defense Contractor Thought Leadership

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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

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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.

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

Don Draper

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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?

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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.

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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

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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.

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Most military contractors don’t need to advertise. In this AdWeek article, Robert Klara interviewed me about why some aerospace and defense contractors have advertised over the years.

Why a Military Contractor Needs to Advertise to the Average Consumer

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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.

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While 2013 was a year of uncertainty for aerospace and defense contractors, Fire Support’s readership soared to new heights. Here are the 5 most read articles.

Top Fire Support Posts 2013

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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.

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

defense industry press coverage

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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.

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

top aerospace companies 2013

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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.

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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

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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.

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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. 

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.

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Using a website for business development can be foreign for defense contractors. But for those who do it right, it can pull them over the line.

The marketing world continues to change because the way people buy is changing. And the way that customers of aerospace and defense industry companies buy is no exception.

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

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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.

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The number of defense, aerospace and national security blogs is growing. This list of the most popular blogs changes based on your votes.

Who doesn’t like lists? Collaborative, crowdsourced lists that you can add to, upvote, filter, search and sort are magic.

So here’s the list of Top Defense, Aerospace and National Security Blogs.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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