How A Good Capability Statement Wins Government Contracts
How do I get my Capability Statement noticed by a Contracting Officer?
Most business owners and corporate officers have no idea just how important their Capability Statement is in the world of Government Contracting. In fact, there is a special formula for Capability Statements that can make or break the deal. Even companies who have been winning contracts for 20 years don’t realize that they could be far surpassing their contracting revenue goals if they only understood the Secret Sauce to a successful Capability Statement. Lastly, did you know that there are two different types of Capability Statements? Service Based Cape Statements and Product Based Cape Statements. It’s important to understand the difference between them because it’s no fun trying to bang nails into a wooden board with a screw driver or drive in screws with a hammer! Using the right tool for the job is essential to getting a Contracting Officer to bond with your Capability Statement. Below I’ll talk about what most business owners think a Capability Statement is and what not to do, aka Common Mistakes everyone makes when creating their Cape Statement. I’ll also tell you what goes into a good capability statement and what the difference is between a Product Based Capability Statement and a Services Based Capability Statement.
Step One: The Mind of the Creator.
Most people know who Leo Burnett is, (If you don’t, you should) but for those who don’t let me explain quickly that Leo Burnett Worldwide Inc. is an American advertising agency with worldwide influence and success. It was founded in 1935 in Chicago by Leo Burnett and if you look up “Marketing Genius” in the dictionary you’ll find his picture, or at least you should. Mr. Burnett teaches us the first little piece of Secret Sauce when it comes to Capability Statements which is, “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at and make it fun to read.” Many business owners think that their Capability Statement should be a technical document explaining the capabilities of their business or that it should be designed like a business resume. Well that couldn’t be farther from the truth! While some people do think of their Capability Statement as a “Business Resume” it’s this very mindset that gets their “Cape Statement” shoved into a drawer, stacked into a pile or pasted into a folder on a Contracting Officers computer, never to be seen again. While it is sort of like a business resume, it shouldn’t be designed to look like one. The main problem with this “Resume” mentality is that most Capability Statements have three fatal flaws. The first being that they look like a business resume, the second being that they are overly technical in nature and the third being that they are not unique enough to stand out in the mind of the reader. A good Capability Statement should be a Graphic, Full Color Marketing Document.
But I Hired an Expert/Former Contracting Officer/Technical Engineer/My Industries Guru!
“One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is choosing the wrong person to develop their Capability Statement. Companies don’t understand that this document is NOT necessarily intended for The Project Manager or the C.O.T.R. (Contracting Officer Technical Representative). It is intended for the OSDBU Rep (Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization), The SBS Rep (Small Business Specialist) or in the case of a large business, the Contracting Officer or Prime Contractor” That’s right folks, done right a good Capability Statement can get your foot in the door with a Prime Contractor who has already bid on and won that lucrative contract. So what’s the bottom line? The person who develops your Cape Statement needs to know a lot about government contracting in general. They also need to know who performs which job functions in the agency office you are marketing to! The big mistake is made when a company assigns a person to create their cape statement who only has a high level of knowledge about their company or industry and lacks experience or insider information in the contracting world in general. Specifically inside knowledge about how agency offices work and who else is involved in the contract award decision process.
Companies sometimes hire former contracting officers to oversee their contracting campaigns. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it’s not. If an Aerospace company hires a former Aerospace Contracting Officer to market to an agency that buys Aerospace products and services then they are one step ahead in the game but if they hire a former Aerospace Contracting Officer to market to the Navy or the DHS sub-agency, Department-of-Janitorial-Services, then they have done themselves a great disservice because the latter two agencies probably make acquisition decisions vastly different from government agencies dealing with Aerospace.
Business owners fail to understand that the Contracting Officer is just ONE of the major players in the agency office issuing the contract. There are other players in the game such as the C.O.T.R., the Small Business Advocate or even a Project/Program Manager and without their input contracts don’t get awarded. Getting your Capability Statement in the hands of the right person for that specific agency office is half the battle.
The 7 Second Rule: Making your Capability Statement More Popular Than a Top 40 Hit Single!
On average, you have 7 seconds to make a Contracting Officer captivated by your Capability Statement or its going on the bottom of the stack! Remember what Leo Burnett said, “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at and Make it fun to read.” Your Capability Statement needs to tell a story without using lots of words! It needs to be clean and polished and it needs to represent what your business does with pictures, bullet points and differentiators. It needs to be branded according to your companies marketing strategy with colors, logos, and clearly defined sections that communicate your message with as few words as possible. You have 7 seconds, ready go!
Product Based Capability Statements:
There are a few notable differences between a Serviced Based Capability Statement, (such as a company that provides IT Solutions) and a Product Based Capability Statement, (Such as a company who sells nuts and bolts). In a Product Based Capability Statement your Core Competencies should be your products. While I won’t give away all the secret sauce on this one I will say that you need to list your overall product categories and hot button products and you need to use Icons or Logos to represent those products. If you’re smart, you might even hyperlink those icons or logos to your GSA schedule or website for easy ordering! If you are a company who does business with the government through Micro Purchases, a GSA Schedule, Your Company’s Website or you are trying to fulfill a products based IDIQ or BPA you must make it as easy for a contracting officer to make that purchase or place that D.O as possible. You accomplish this by turning your Product Based Capability Statement into an “ordering menu” that the contracting officer picks up and orders directly from without searching for a product, typing in a website address or sifting through the GSA. If you have a specially designed Product Based Capability Statement you will win the sale every time if you design your capability statement to be an easy order menu. It makes ordering your products virtually zero effort for the contracting officer or project manager.
As you can see there is a lot to think about when it comes to Capability Statements and getting your company’s Cape Statement in the hands of the right member of the contracting team. We’ve just barely scratched the surface here and I can’t stress enough that choosing the right person or company to create your capability statement can be a game changer. If you hire a company like ours to produce your capability statement for you, make sure they understand you and your company and aren’t just trying to sell you an out of the box product. Make sure you have a strong website with a government landing page which displays your capability statement and makes it available for download. Lastly, make sure whoever creates your capability statement has graphic design/marketing skills and can provide you with a highly polished, finished product, complete with a professional business logo that represents you and what you do. To find out more about Capability Statement Production give us a call. We will be happy to review your Capability Statement with you and make recommendations or provide you with our Capability Statement Solutions Services.
Now that you know all the Do’s and Don’ts of Capability Statements you might even be able to make one yourself. If you can make your Capability Statement yourself, then good for you! We’ve given you the recipe above so get cooking and start winning more federal dollars!