This week marks my first 3 months of marketing to government. As much as I believe I’ve learned over the last 90 days, the one thing I am sure I know — is that I am just beginning to understand the true complexities of government, especially involving change management and procurement. Every so often, a deal that looks sure to close, or a marketing campaign that looks engaging and interesting, is beset by complex processes and subtleties out of my control.
As I come to understand little by little, government is a well-oiled machine that, while often having the very best in mind for its citizens, is built for consistency and resiliency, not disruption and innovation. It is designed to stand the test of time, of officials and leaders coming and going, of popular ideas rising and falling, and much more that as a startup business, we can’t hope to understand.
As a startup, we nickel and dime for every deal, pivot and re-pivot our company’s position, and birth and kill products faster than a typical government decides what to serve at the staff appreciation luncheon.
In government, it is stability and dependability that carry the day; and those virtues are carried proudly throughout the administration from the City Manager, to the IT Director, to the County Clerk. These public servants attack every day with the same discipline and high standard of service that many of us in business hope to approach EOM, EOQ or even EOY, when our targets are actually on the line. For members of government, every moment they are held to their “company initiative or goal” — to serve their constituents with utility and grace.
The more writing for, engaging with, and marketing to government we do, when deadlines are coming up fast and everything is on fire, the easier it is to forget that our customer is not like ourselves. More critically, it is easier to lose sight of why our target customer is not designed the way we are. When selling to and servicing government, it is easy to become frustrated, confused, and downcast. As a startup, we look to the “newness” of our product, the speed of our product development process, and we wonder why our customer, if not everyone, is not this same way.
But it is precisely this difference that makes government the dependable, unselfish, patient entity it is. Speed is not always a virtue, and it takes a special kind of tolerance and trust to remember why government works the way it does, and what gratitude we owe it on most days of the week. Built into the very mission of government is us — not a bottom line or a quick buck. WE are their inventory, and our happiness and peace of mind are their products.
WE are their inventory, and our happiness and peace of mind are their products.
As Thanksgiving nears I ask, in a time when it is not so easy to look at government with admiration and gratitude, to do just that. Remember why the post office, the fire department, and city hall exist. Remember what goals local officials have in mind for you, not themselves, as they gather to discuss their 2017 initiatives and fiscal year. Don’t focus on the flag, the news, or whichever representative you did or didn’t vote for. Focus on the small things that well-run government affords us all every day. Remember that Government is Beautiful, and thank them for it, in whichever way you choose to. Happy Thanksgiving.