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Marion Soubliere

How to Market Your Services to the Feds

Copyright: xtockimages / 123RF Stock Photo

The Government of Canada, one of this country’s biggest markets, is eager to do business with the tiniest of firms.

Its Office of Small and Medium Enterprises launched in 2005 to help small companies land contracts. And, after many attempts to simplify procurement, a new e-commerce web portal is planned that would feature catalogues of goods and services from pre-qualified suppliers. Provincial / territorial / municipal governments and other players may use these catalogues, too—greatly expanding market reach for businesses.

In Winning Contracts With the Government of Canada, I outlined steps for registering as a supplier and getting security clearance. But even after your firm has garnered a spot on a supply arrangement like ProServices, you need to keep marketing yourself.

Why? Because solopreneurs are small fish in a big pond of suppliers. Marketing your firm to keep its profile in buyers’ sightlines is crucial.

  1. Do your research.
  • Learn about a department’s initiatives by reading its latest annual Departmental Plan (formerly called Report on Plans and Priorities).
  • Review the Throne Speech and Budget, scrutinize House of Commons and Senate committee reports and subscribe for free to Canadian Government Executive magazine.
  • Read key Government of Canada communications policies and guides, including the new Canada.ca Content Style Guide.
  • Know the government’s fiscal planning cycle. The fiscal year runs from April to March. Q1 (April to June) is for setting budgets. Q2 (July to September) is for establishing programs and work plans. Q3 (October to December) is for purchasing. And Q4 (January to March) is for wrapping everything up.
  1. Be active online.
  • Contribute regularly to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to showcase your expertise. Follow government departments and executives for updates on programs, jobs and more. On Twitter, see hashtags like #GoC and #w2p, or take part in a #LeadersGC
  • Update your online profiles with skills, project experience and client testimonies. This includes your Government of Canada Supplier Registration Information service profile as well as your business website, LinkedIn page and Online Directory of Editors profile.
  • Register in the federal Canadian Company Capabilities directory. This database helps buyers worldwide suss out Canadian talent and goods.
  • Add your standing offer award numbers to online profiles (as long as there are no advertising restrictions on the standing offer) to aid search efforts.
  1. Contact buyers selectively.
  • Target departments, agencies and Crown corporations that are a good match for your skills and experience. Don’t e-blast everyone.
  • Get contact info from the Department Listing section of the Government Electronic Directory Service (GEDS). Phone departmental materiel managers and email other managers with titles like editorial services manager or creative services manager.
  • Some Crown corporations, like the CBC and VIA Rail, are not on GEDS. For those, check the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Inventory of Government of Canada Organizations. It doesn’t have staff details, but at least you’ll get main website links.
  • Stay in touch with clients over the years. Send a Christmas card or shoot off an email in spring to let clients know you’re available to help during summer holidays. Public servants often move from department to department. Bonus: more marketing possibilities for you!

Have questions? Comment below and I’ll do my best to help.

~~~

Previous post from Marion Soublière: Winning Contracts With the Government of Canada.

The Editors’ Weekly is the official blog of Editors Canada. Contact us.


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4 Comments on “How to Market Your Services to the Feds”

  • Alyssa

    says:

    I would love to know more. I own my own editing company. It is just me – I don’t have any employees. Does that matter?

  • Not at all! You can be a sole proprietor and still contract directly to the Government of Canada. That’s what I am and my firm has won standing offers with the federal government since 2007.

    The key is to be a structured business of some sort—a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation—because federal security clearance is assigned now to your business as well as your employees, even if you are self-employed.

    • Alyssa

      says:

      I don’t have a GST/HST number, but I am a sole proprietor. Is a business number different from a Business Identification Number?
      Definitely something to look into! Thanks for the article!

      • Hi Alyssa,

        You register your company for a business number through Revenue Canada, unless you are located in Quebec, in which case you register with Revenu Québec. I’m not sure what the Business Identification Number is. Do you mean the Government of Canada’s Procurement Business Number?

        As for having a GST/HST number, I have seen different opinions expressed about this. Some companies with annual revenues below $30,000 don’t see the need to get a GST/HST number. (If your revenues are more than $30,000, you must register for a GST/HST number.)

        But even if your annual revenues fall below $30,000, there are valid reasons to apply for a GST/HST number anyway. One is that some clients find it a hassle to deal with companies that don’t have a GST/HST number because they have to change their own accounting processes, which may be set up to automatically charge GST/HST.

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