The government takes center stage in the DC Metro area and so do B2G marketers. With our long-time partner Doug Anderson of DCA Live, we recently gathered a group of public-sector marketing leaders to discuss what issues are top of mind for them as they kick off their marketing plans for 2024.

Here are the key takeaways from the conversation:

It’s an election year. You won’t be surprised that the upcoming Presidential election is at the top of the list for government marketers, along with the resulting political impacts to the acquisition process. Also, the “endless CRs” (Continuing Resolutions), as one CMO called them, have stalled growth opportunities as new programs aren’t being funded. One participant mentioned his team is focused on cross-selling to existing customers while another has shifted her focus to fee-funded agencies like the IRS.

Procurement officer turnover is a barrier. With many long-time procurement officers retiring, combined with post-Covid work-from-home dynamic, it’s harder to get into government offices and meet with key buyers. Also, newer procurement officers are being brought in later into the buying process, which means they have a lot of questions that can take the deal back to square one.

Employer branding continues to be a focus. Each of the marketing leaders on the call agreed that strong employer branding is critical to their company’s success. One recently engaged a PR firm to focus specifically on this area. Also mentioned was the importance of ensuring a positive candidate experience. Unfortunately, hiring companies don’t always prioritize this, which means they risk losing great candidates. As one participant said, “I’ve been in the workforce for thirty years, and I’ve never felt the interviewing process was a two-way street.”

Inflation is making marketing more expensive. From food to flights, inflation has impacted expenses across the board, and marketing has certainly not been immune. Events, speaking opportunities, ads, sponsored content – it’s costing more to leverage the same marketing channels. To add salt to the wound, a lot of the bigger government contractors are cutting Market Development Funds (MDF) for their partners.

While marketing to any sector has its challenges, marketing to government agencies has always presented a unique set of hurdles. However, despite the headwinds noted above, the marketing leaders were optimistic about their ability to navigate these obstacles –  and were generally bullish about 2024.