Anyone working in marketing or sales in the gov con space has, at some time, either asked or been asked how much a government contractor website costs. It is, as you can expect, a difficult question to answer, as it usually depends on what the site needs to accomplish. In this article, I’ll explain what those variables are and how they factor into the cost of a website. We’ll also discuss some of the unique features a government contractor needs from a website in terms of leveraging a website to win a new contract. In a soon to be released article, we’ll also review how a website can help you support awarded contracts.
First things first, lets discuss the features that come into play in determining the cost of a website for a government contractor. Obviously the term “government contractor” covers a lot of ground, and a number of industries. As such, there are a number of factors that will likely apply to your specific industry, and we’ll likely delve into those in more detail in a future post. But, for today’s post, we’ll focus on the website elements that most, if not all, government contractor websites have in common.
There are two different scenarios government contractors will find themselves in:
- Competing to win a contract that is currently receiving bids or being evaluated.
- Support a contract or contracts which have already been awarded (congrats!)
How to Use Your Website to Win Government Contracts
Today, we’ll talk about those that fall into the first category. If you’ve come this far, we’re going to assume you’ve done your homework on how to bid on government contracts, how to ensure you’re eligible, and if possible, become certified for any advantages you may have in your favor (woman, minority and veteran owned businesses for example.) Having made it this far, you’re most likely also aware that selling to the government is very different than selling to commercial clients. Your website can turn this difference into a great advantage.
Before we get into specifics, it is important to remember that the government is made up of people, just like you and me! And to that end, they would like to be treated as people, not cogs in a machine. The structure of government contracts has built a culture of blandness based on conformity and compliance restrictions. However, your website is an area where you can break free from the pages and pages of black on white and give the people who are evaluating your bid for the contract something worth looking at.
While the world of web design has evolved quickly, and continues to do so, the overwhelming majority of government contractors (save the handful of large ones parodied in movies) have terrible websites with bland design, large volumes of small text, little to no multimedia and essentially exist just to check a box in the reviewers’ minds – “yes this company seems to have a website.” Great stuff. I bet you’d love to have that job, looking at stacks of paper and terrible websites all day. Government contractors have felt OK having these poor websites for decades because it’s the status quo: If all the competitors’ websites are terrible, then ours can be too, and no second thought is given.
In our experience, the greatest way you can win government contracts with your website is: Be Interesting and Educate.
Where your competitor has a wall of text, you can have a series of engaging videos demonstrating your product’s or service’s ability to do what the government needs to accomplish their mission. Instead of a poor design, you’ll have an aesthetically pleasing, brand-consistent site that looks like a company the people reviewing your website would want to work with regardless of if they were in the public or private sector! While your competition’s website from the mid ’90’s is a disaster to navigate on a tablet or smart phone, your site will be responsive and work well across all devices. So when John the procurement officer goes to show his colleague your video on his tablet, it plays like a dream.
I could go into much more detail on a number of fronts, but in an effort to keep this article a readable length of some sort, I’ll summarize with a checklist below.
- Remember your bid is evaluated by people
- Ensure your site is modern and responsive (or mobile-friendly)
- Maintain brand consistency
- Keep your content interesting
- Use multimedia to tell your story
- Embedded presentations
- Educate your audience by sharing your knowledge on the topic or sector of the contract you’re bidding on
- Summarize, ideally in one line large text, why your company is a good fit
- Support that summary with more detailed information
- Showcase any past performance you have in the area
- Explain any additional value you add or bring to the table
- If applicable, showcase public support you may have
- Showcase any certifications you have (it doesn’t hurt to remind them)
- Ensure your site is 508 compliant (while often not a requirement to win a contract, it will certainly help)
Lastly, you’ll want to remember that your website is only a part of the mix. While largely influential in its own right, it needs to work in conjunction with your in-person or phone (or Skype, Gotomeeting, Webex, join.me, etc.) meetings, the submitted bid itself, and much more. However, once your bid is submitted, your website is the only member of your team who is ready and available to continue to educate the people reviewing your bid 24/7.
OK, so how much does this wonderful website cost?
The answer, as it so often is, is that it depends on a number of factors. In this case, the biggest factors are usually how much content you need to showcase to accomplish these goals on your website, and whether that content creation is a part of the creation of the website (or whether you have existing content you can use). The amount of content needed, and the format of that content will usually be the primary driver of cost for 75% of government contractor websites.
The effort to prepare for, design, and build the majority of government contractor websites often falls in the $25,000 to $50,000 for smaller contractors. Medium sized contractors can expect their site to fall in the range of $50,000 to $150,000, while larger more complex contractors may expect to pay $250,000 or more depending on their size. Again, these are ballpark estimates for a very customized solution, a simple website built to focus on a single contract reusing multimedia content you already have may be as little as $5,000 to $10,000.
All that said, I’d ask you to look at the possible value the website can provide. If the website is being build specifically for a single contract (or series of contracts) we usually advise that you aim to keep the website budget as .25% to 2% for most contracts. For smaller contracts with less competitors it can make sense to spend a little more, especially if it gives you a chance to build proof of performance, get your foot in the door or provide other long term benefits in addition to the award of the contract itself. If the website is your organization’s primary website and this contract is your impetus for redesigning your website, you’ll want to consider what other ways your website can be of value to your business before settling on any figures.
If you have questions on this front, or would like to know more, let us know.