Marketing Insights from the DOD and Intel Community

Tom Temin, anchor and managing editor, Federal Drive with Tom Temin led a panel today that provided insights from government marketers on how we can all better our marketing campaigns.

The panel covered a few main topics including where they go to learn new product and solution information that supports their missions, how to get your information in front of them, and what they read. Below is a recap of the panel discussion.

The Panelists were:

  • Brigadier General Robnald Bouchard (Ret.) – former U.S. Army, principal, Deep Water Point, LLC
  • Arlene Dodds – prinicpal – intel community, Deep Water Point, LLC
  • Edward Griffin, Jr – chief marketing and corporate sponsorship, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)
  • Frank Konieczny – CTO U.S. Air Force

How do you get information about technology, especially in the three basic phases of the buying cycle?

Bouchard: Access is the name of the game for contractors. But, as an army officer I had other objectives than just acquiring technology. Army commands have industry engagement days where a product officer creates a forum around a theme (cyber, mobility, etc). These forms aren’t really for pitching products but for real solution-driven conversation.

Dodds: While we hope that the days of buying technology for technology’s sake is over, but they’re not really. This informed my approach of looking first at the stakeholder’s need rather than what would be fun or interesting to use. That way the technology purchased is very mission-focused. Also, the relationships born with marketers and sales people drive purchasing. So, don’t talk to, but talk with, and about real solutions and how they work, not just marketing speak. I mostly find the people I want to meet with on LinkedIn or through other connections and set up meetings to learn more.

Konieczny: My job is to go out and look at technology across government and industry and see how it could apply here. I don’t expect you to fully understand my mission, it would be great, but it’s nearly impossible. But, that’s my job — to analyze the offerings you have and see if they will work for us. Ten minute meetings are best – if you can give a short spiel that hits the right points it can and will lead to further meetings. Also, if I’m at a conference and you want to meet me, make a meeting with my office. I can’t go an exhibit hall or I’ll be mobbed, but I spend a good amount of time meeting with exhibitors. We want to create personal relationships, because we want to have the type of conversation where we can ask what you can do to support us through specific issues.

Griffin: Each branch of service has a arm that helps vendors get on base and market to members of the military and their families. This includes marketing everything from childcare to food and beverages. You can get access to sponsorship and advertising (ex.: a corporation sponsoring an event for military families or advertising during the Army 10-Miler) opportunities through the DLA. DLA is the conduit to ALL of the military branches (a purple organization) and manages all of the logistics for major events.

What are your sources of information?

Bouchard: Mainly AFCEA and other professional organizations. As an army officer I would go to the same place you would go – the company’s website. So what’s on your website is important – make sure it’s up to date. We also talk with each other about products and services used. Tradeshows are also a good place for meetings.

Dodds: Trust is very important. Keep commitments and fulfill expectations. Program managers are key to set goals and work to achieve them. I use internet references to evaluate contractor performance like U.S. GAO.

Griffin: I enjoy learning events such as on-base lunch and learns. That’s how we get information and vendors get in front of the right people.

Konieczny: The Air Force is kind of huge, so there are lots of things going on. If you present something at a MAJCOM level the info will trickle up to me – if it’s important to them. We present technologies and the new things that are important to the Air Force during monthly meetings. We also hold a monthly cyber innovation forum internally to talk through technologies and procedures so information is shared – good and bad. You can schedule meetings with the CTO office and we will make sure the right people are in the room. An example would be that  mobility is big right now for us and if you were to set a meeting,  I’ll make sure that people who will actually be doing the work or implementing the technology are there with me.

What do you read specifically?

Bouchard: LinkedIn and Facebook – I go through those 3-4 times a day. I read AFCEA, AUSA, and MOA publications as well as government tech pubs and CNN tech online.

Dodds: I look at fringe things like XISP and Popular Science as well as WSJ, NYT, and The Washington Post online, unless it’s Sunday. I also have a macro search that gives a new wrap up of topics i’m interested in.

Griffin: I read blogs about tech from an MWR standpoint. Also,  LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram are important to me. Additionally I read marketing and advertising publications and association emails.

Konieczny: Social Media wise I look at LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are regulated so I can’t use Them. I read FCW other government tech pubs online, hard copies are at least a month old by the time they get into my office.