What drives public sector enterprises to buy?

Building an effective marketing strategy to public sector in Australia requires insight and an understanding of the structure and complexities of the markets you are targeting.  A “one-size-fits-all” approach is simply insufficient in today’s complex procurement environment.

government procurement

Readers found our recent blog B2B vs B2G – Set your enterprise marketing strategy  useful as it outlined how doing business with government doesn’t come cheaply. It requires a long term investment in dedicated personnel and resources. According to the second annual American Express Open Government Contracting Survey in 2011 in the USA, small businesses spent an average of US$103,827 seeking federal government opportunities, up 21 % from their 2010 attempts to keep the government as a customer (US$86,000).

Every organisation has different strategic needs. For example a local IT services firm may have a flexible yet effective and transparent supply chain. It would operate very differently to a global professional services firm which must deliver services that fit its global services capability.

Development of marketing plans to public sector is justified as long as your organisation can supply products and services that can be used to help improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the agency to provide services to citizens. A public-private partnership can lead to satisfied customers and employees and help public sector enterprises achieve their objectives. Successful implementation of services will also lead to a loyal customer base and a platform from which new customers can be identified.

How you plan your marketing programs to the public sector can be influenced by the tier of government (local, state or federal) and the “category” of agencies you are targeting.


5 Categories of government:

  1. Agencies that provide free services to users such as schools, police, fire fighters
  2. Monetary transfer bodies such as social security, tax administration, customs etc
  3. Intervention and control agencies include prisons, defence, judicial and regulatory agencies
  4. Health and education services such as hospitals, libraries, universities and health services
  5. Government services includes employment, housing, utilities and transport


By grouping agencies into the five key categories you can identify commonalities between each that transcend state and territory borders. By building solutions for agencies with “like” commonalities your company will quickly build a healthy customer base.

When planning the marketing mix you also need to consider the three tiers of government: Federal, State and Local. Each requiring an implementation of marketing plans that take into consideration the unique aspects of each:



Federal Government has geographic footprints throughout Australia. Suppliers need to consider the topography and spread of offices and branches and how if successful, services can be rolled out across a wide physical area. Federal Government agencies include mega departments and ministries down to the smallest agencies, authorities and commissions. The most effective means of communication with agencies is to engage directly with the influencers and decision-making personnel. These decision makers often sit in the “parent” organisations and may make strategic marketing decisions on behalf of the smaller (child) agencies. The key to successfully serving the agency will depend upon the relationships, skills and experience of the people you will be dealing with and your understanding of their unique requirements, culture and drivers.



There are eight State and Territory Governments throughout Australia. Within each government are multiple agencies, ministries, utilities, public transport, health, education services and political agendas. Each state operates within their own rules, priorities and budgets. Pricing levels demanded by state based public sector enterprises are determined by taxes paid by citizens and businesses located within that region. When dealing with government be aware of the local political cycle and sensitivities of the masters who ultimately control the direction of government spending.  It is unlikely for example that any large purchasing decisions will be made when an election is coming up or a government is in care-taker mode. Each state authority has their own strategic priorities and budget constraints giving rise to competing demands from suppliers who need to show flexibility and a solutions-based culture. It is also important to understand what drives the decision makers who will ultimately decide if your organisation will be the successful supplier.



There are 572 local and municipal councils in Australia of all different sizes and financial capacity. What works for one local council will be unacceptable to another. Your marketing campaigns should reflect what is important to each council. For example a rural council located in remote Far North Queensland will have very different requirements to a mega council operating in the heart of one of Australia’s capital cities. What drives each is what the supplier needs to understand and without an intimate understanding of these drivers – suppliers will ultimately fail both themselves and the customer. As with Federal Government, suppliers targeting local councils need to consider the topography and spread of councils across a wide physical area. How will services be delivered and will transport costs and support services affect the overall cost of supply?


Who are we?

A-ZGovBIZ is a specialist public sector data provider that assists suppliers to target the key decision makers and influencers in government, health and education. Prospects can be selected by job level, geographically, job function, tier of government, industry and more. Go to the LIST of LISTS to find a list that fits your requirements or contact us on 02 95164703 or at sales@azgovbiz.com.au  to find out just how affordable and easy it is to get the contacts you need today.


Michael Bleakley is a journalist, communicator and marketing professional of 25 years. His career began in his early 20’s publishing tech magazines for education. Michael’s career then moved into online and book publishing for a global business publisher, then finally into database publishing and marketing at A-ZGovBIZ.

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