It is advisable to engage a number of approaches to generate business and customers within the Public Sector. The suggestions below are intended specifically for the Public Sector and are made on the assumption that organisations will already be utilising general promotional practices such as developing professional literature, websites, engaging in Search Engine Optimisation and all other practices that are suitable for all markets.
Registering for relevant contract and tender alert feed(s) is a good starting point, especially for those organisations providing services of higher value. The Public Sector?is committed to providing as much work as possible for SME?s, so the market is as open as possible to businesses.
Approach local/suitable organisations purchasing/procurement departments and request to be added to their approved supplier listings. If relevant, apply for listing on Government/contractor run frameworks.
A Direct Marketing campaign is an option to consider if the products and services provided sit within ?Direct Buying/Purchasing? ?(eg Lower Value Products / Time and/or Compliance Sensitive / Unique Products or Services / Events / Publications / Training etc), or for organisations wishing to engage in brand development or building general awareness of products and services.
It is advisable to engage a number of approaches to generate business and customers within the Public Sector.
How to plan a direct marketing campaign:
Which organisations types / areas of the Public Sector are relevant?
It?s important to research and understand relationships between organisations and where the ?buying? decision regarding your services might happen. For example, Care Homes within a group will make some decisions at a site level, but for larger purchases, the decision may be taken centrally. Though influence may be felt from individual sites based on need or interest. Consequently one might look to market to both individual care home sites and also with the central headquarters, or not, depending on the type of value of the services being offered. Local Authority run Schools will be engaged in their own buying, but some services provided by the Local Authority (potentially Grounds Maintenance, ICT etc) and therefore marketing communications should be directed accordingly.
What Geographical areas are appropriate / suitable?
Clearly it makes sense to only spend time and money promoting an organisation within geographical areas within which it can provide services and many organisations will divide up their marketing efforts into sales team areas. Further to this though there are a number of ways of thinking about geographical areas when it comes to the Public Sector. Nationally (as in either UK wide, Mainland UK or England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland separately). Within England there are historically known Economic Planning Regions and Statistical Regions. Counties are still used and understood by many across the UK. From a contemporary perspective, there are Local Authority administrative areas, NHS regions and CCG areas. Politically, there are Wards and Constituencies and then, of course, there are also Postcodes, whether defined by Area, District, Sector or Unit.
Related to the section above on organisation types, there are national differences between the way England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland organises itself from the point of view of delivering services and therefore the potential to take a different approach to the organisations and people that are being marketed to for each country.
It?s important to research and understand relationships between organisations and where the ?buying? decision regarding your services might happen.
What is the best medium for communicating the details of the product / service?
This is somewhat non-market specific advice. Though perhaps it could be argued to be especially appropriate when it comes to the Public Sector.
There are three primary channels/mediums that can be used for direct marketing. Postal, Telephone and Email. Many organisations will employ all methods and clearly will have the best results as a consequence. For those working to a budget or just wishing to try one or two methods, it?s worth considering the following:
Postal – Potentially the most expensive option, though usually having the greatest response as a result of it being less intrusive than telephone marketing, potentially more informative and more deliverable than email.
Telephone – Telephone Research or Marketing is also quite expensive due to the time involved but can yield good results provided the callers are informed, no ?high pressure? tactics are employed and they know who they need to talk to. Often this method is best for either time sensitive services (such as events or publications) or where there is known to be a current need or demand due to changing technology, law, management etc.
Email – The cheapest means of delivering a message, though considerably less effective than those above. Email suffers somewhat from over use and increasing technical challenges with messages being delivered to the intended recipient. Often best used when the content is informative and engaging and provides something of interest to the reader. Sending messages regularly, or building up a series of emails that follow each other, or perhaps developing a newsletter that is sent periodically will often provide the best responses from a core of interested parties.
All in all, the decision is one of a balance between effectiveness and cost. This is coloured by the product or service value, the specific market – ie the organisations and people involved and the budget available.
Targeting the right people is as, if not more, important than selecting the right organisations
Critically, who are the right people to communicate to and with?
Targeting the right people is as, if not more, important than selecting the right organisations, areas and method of communication. It is also probably the biggest cause of non effective marketing.
In larger organisations, this often means considering a group of people that may be involved with and use the products or services offered. Both those specifically involved day to day and those in management positions that hold budgets and influence and ultimately take the responsibility for the delivery of their organisations or departments service(s). In the case of approaching Local Authority and, for example, an organisation promoting a data security solution, this could mean the best option would be to communicate with the Network Manager, the Head of ICT and if the offering included efficiency savings or was compelling for other operational reasons, the Departmental Director of Resources. If the security solution was particularly suitable for use within Benefits processing and the use of sensitive data, then it might also be worth considering expanding the communication to include the Director of Finance and the Head of Benefits.
A combination, balance and mixture of the two key factors, responsibility and management level, when decided who should be targeted. It may also, especially in the case of research or larger services, be worth considering the elected representatives, especially Councillors within Local Government, who have an overview or say in the running of a department or service that is relevant to what is being promoted.
Smaller organisations – such as GP Surgeries, Care Homes, Schools, Dentists etc – are a little more straight-forward as for the most part there is a specific ?Manager? or senior person that is the best point of contact for the majority of marketing.
Ultimately, the appropriate person or group of people to communicate with will depend on the nature, value and type of product or service being offered and the type of organisations included.
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