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  • Clare Tweed

How to market your business to public sector organisations

Updated: Jul 21


Winning a contract with a public sector organisation can be an exciting but daunting task. Successful public sector bids can be highly financially lucrative, as well as putting your business on the map and greatly expanding your professional network.

The UK Government’s target to award 25% of all contract to smaller firms was surpassed in 2019 and since then, the public sector market has continued to expand for small businesses. In 2020, the target was set at 33% which is worth approximately £3 billion to SMEs.

It can be difficult to get to the desirable position of winning a contract with a public sector organisation. There is huge competition nationwide from other businesses and the public sector itself can be a complicated process of box ticking and hoop jumping.

Lead generation for public sector organisations can be tricky but with the right approach, small businesses and entrepreneurs can be confident with their marketing strategy. In this article, we take a look at how you can build an effective campaign to beat the competition and win big bids with public sector organisations.

Targeting the public sector – marketing that is focused and strategic

If you think your company would benefit from working with a public sector organisation, it’s important to research the structure that underpins that authority to get a thorough understanding of who you need to target.

England is made up of 25 counties, with 192 district, borough or city councils within them. Alongside this, there are 9,000 parish and town councils and 10 national parks, all with their own priorities, needs and budgets. The UK central government has over 455 separate departments that employ multiple staff managing various areas of the supply chain.

This means getting your business known to the right person at the right time considerably more difficult than if you were targeting a private sector company. With this in mind, there are a number of different factors you need to consider in order to gain a fruitful public sector contract.

In marketing, public sector organisations are regularly targeted by thousands of businesses but most of their efforts fall flat because they are directed too broadly and are unlikely to reach key decision makers.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to improve your chances of securing a contract with a public sector organisation.


Learn more about contracts


Understanding how public sector contracts work is the first necessary step in winning relevant bids. It’s worth doing your research in this area so you have a clear understanding of which businesses have been successful in your sector in the past and how.

UK tenders are regularly published and updated online. The government website is a useful tool to browse existing contracts, learn about upcoming contract and gather relevant information about previous tenders to improve your pitch.

Register on the Contracts Finder website to receive email alerts when a relevant tender is released, so you can be sure you’re staying up to date with potential business options for your company.


Look out for local contracts


An alternative source for tender information is the local authority website of the area you’re interested in targeting. You may stand a better chance in winning contracts in your close proximity so it’s worthwhile staying up to date with information they release.

Find out who the relevant decision maker is in the public sector body you’re interested in is and contact them directly to introduce yourself. This way you can glean information on what product and services they might be looking for both now and in the future.

Buyers in the public and private sector are always looking to connect with businesses who are consistently engaged within their field and are willing to adapt and grow as the needs of the economy change.


Understand public sector procurement

Getting clued up on the process of supplying the public sector is vital. Having an in-depth knowledge of supplying public sector organisations doesn’t need to be scary and there are a whole host of educational resources out there to help you.

Procurex Live are the UK’s leading public sector training event company who regularly host live and online workshops to share knowledge in this division. They discuss best practise skills through key speakers to increase your understanding of procurement in the public sector.

The UK Government are also keen to broaden businesses understanding of the procurement process. There are many articles available online for you to read at your own pace, from basic knowledge to more advanced insights.


Get help from the experts

If you run a small business, you’ll know that it’s a relentless task in itself, and making time for research, preparation and bid winning uses valuable time and energy. Trying to take on too much at once can be overwhelming so we recommend you partner with a marketing agency to help ease the pressure.

In the world of an SME, it can feel as if you’re chasing too many projects at once and none of them are getting your full attention. Success comes when you focus on one tangible goal at one time and strive to achieve it to the best of your capacity – which is why outsourcing your marketing allows you to focus on the day-to-day running of your business.


Be proud of your achievements and capabilities

Don’t be afraid to sell yourself. There is no room for modesty in a small business and its vital you have faith in your business’s abilities. If you truly believe your company can take on large public sector contracts successfully you need to convey this to the people you’re pitching to so they believe it, too.

If you’ve worked in the public sector before don’t be shy to mention it. Highlight the success stories you’ve created and bring in any relevant experience or results you think will make a good impression.

Your key aim is to make your audience believe you’re the right candidate for the job and give them no excuse not to hire you. Confidence is key, so don’t be scared to shout about your achievements.


Ask for feedback

Sometimes in life and business you get knocked back. If your bid is unsuccessful, look at it as a learning curve in order to improve for next time. Be sure to ask the authority for feedback, and as they are obliged to do so within 15 days of your bid being rejected you can count on this information in order to reassess your plan of action.

Qualify your leads

It can be tempting to find a list of required projects and apply for a lot of them. This isn’t best practise as writing a successful bid takes time, effort and focus and should be directly written for the specific project.

Successful businesses and entrepreneurs know it’s far more efficient to spend more energy creating pitches for bids they have a high chance of winning as opposed to casting a wide net and hoping for the best.

Finding good potential contracts can be done by purchasing a marketing list that includes contact details of key decision makers across the public sector. Lists available include data for local authorities, central government, the NHS and many others.


How More Than Words can help your business

More Than Words have access to many public sector databases that include the name, email addresses, telephone numbers and postal addresses of the contacts you need. We are a full-service marketing agency staffed by experience sales and marketing professionals.


We have created a successful lead generation service that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs link up to public sector services without the time-consuming research and pitch revisions.

We can use your existing public sector database or create a new one from scratch. We use telemarketing to qualify information on your target, such as:

· Whether the organisation has a need for your product or service

· What their specific procurement process is

· Who is their key decision maker and what are their details

· Whether or not they have an existing contract with a different supplier, and if so, who

The More Than Words approach – our success stories


We have many years’ experience helping companies target the public sector. We help our clients find and successfully pitch to a wide range of organisations including:

· Working with a PAT testing company, using our email and telemarketing service to target universities, schools and NHS trusts. Through this we managed to determine when testing would be due, and which staff members were in charge of procurement, leading to our client successfully securing businesses with an NHS trust, three universities and numerous schools.

· Working with a well-known company who design, plan and install playground and fitness equipment. We were able to identify parish councils who had a responsibility for playgrounds, as well as those who didn’t, so that our client was able to enjoy access to a comprehensive and up-to-date email database of relevant contacts for future pitches.

We take the hassle out of finding and pitching to public sector organisations in order to save you time and money. Work with us to gain a step up from your competitors and maximise your chances of securing valuable public sector contracts.


To discuss how we can help your business, please call us on 0330 010 8300, or email clare@morethanwordsuk.co.uk



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