In the market for marketing

FCW's DotGov Thursday column describes the importance of using the Web as part of a professional marketing plan

The World Wide Web has brought new energy to the dialogue about how an agency

gets its message out to the public and its peers.

Often in the federal context, marketing is viewed as a part-time activity

typically performed by the managers of a project. However, full-time people

are needed to properly perform this function. What value is a program or

Web site if the public doesn't know about it?

Increasingly, federal agencies are creating marketing groups and sales

organizations and are looking at hiring or contracting for marketing professionals.

Generally, it is legitimate to spend a percentage of budgeted funds on promoting

agency Web sites and programs based on the size of the program and the needs

of the public to find out about the program.

By incorporating Web sites into marketing and sales strategies, the

Web offers opportunities for providing cost-effective methods for promoting

agency programs or support. By using the Web to post the details that explain

a program, more money can be spent on promoting the "sound bite" to draw

users. The sound bite should provide an extremely focused message that attracts

the interest of the targeted community.

The promotion of the sound bite is the most expensive component of any

outreach campaign. News outlets and advertisers can provide a short overview

to catch the viewer's attention, followed by reference to a Web site for

further details. The Web provides the details for "free" or at a very low

cost.

The incorporation of the Web site into the marketing strategy is only

one piece of a complicated undertaking. Marketing involves a number of activities,

as listed below. And as the agencies interact more frequently with the public

and become more e-business oriented, marketing groups need to be formed

to address this important component of e-business. Marketing involves the

following activities:

* Establishing a clear organization mission and vision.

* Assessing the organization's current position, including staffing,

budget, goals, current performance.

* Performing an external marketing analysis.

* Identifying the organization's products, services and organizational

skills and resources.

* Assessing SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.

* Defining marketing objectives (i.e., strategic goals and objectives).

* Employing marketing strategies, such as identifying target markets

(customers); developing marketing mix; carrying out product/service development,

distribution, promotion and price.

* Carrying out marketing implementation, including specific actions

to be taken; determining how and when the activities will be performed;

assigning the people responsible for the completion of these activities;

and determining how much the activities will cost.

* Performing evaluation and control: planned performance vs. actual

performance.

—Tolliver is a program analyst at the General Services Administration's

Emerging IT Policies Division. Kellett is founder of the Federal Web Business

Council, co-chairman of the Federal WebMasters Forum and is director of

GSA's Emerging IT Policies Division.

NEXT STORY: GSA loses top talent

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