7 Steps to Better Government Market Research

Doing better government market research is the latest topic from Public Spend Forum that we’ll address in Spend Matters’ weekly look at public sector procurement.

PSF, a sister site of ours, has published articles addressing four of the seven steps for better government market research. It also offers free tools and templates that you can use to improve your market and supplier research outcomes. Let’s look at the full list and then delve into the details on the first four steps.

Here are the seven steps:

  1. Understand what you are buying, and why you are buying it
  2. Ask the right questions
  3. Use a mix of research resources
  4. Identify the right keywords and commodity codes for your research
  5. Identify the supply base and contractors
  6. Consider available contract vehicles
  7. Engage suppliers throughout the process

The first step — Understand what you are buying

This may seem obvious, but there are more nuances to consider before you jump straight into market research. First and foremost, consider what it is you are buying. Is it an item or service that is commonly purchased, not just within the government but by private industry as well? If the answer to that question is yes, you are buying commercial items.

Commercial items may be easier to find through common search platforms like Google, but be aware that not every commercial seller is capable of doing business with the government. So you may find great companies and products in your initial research, but it is important to know before you dig too deep whether that company is able to compete for government contracts.

Read the full blog post for all the details on the first step.

The second step — Ask The Right Questions

Market and supplier research is, after all, RESEARCH. It requires a degree of intellectual curiosity to do it right, which is easier said than done. But curiosity doesn’t always come naturally; sometimes it needs a kickstart to get you on the path toward identifying the right research questions to elicit the most productive supplier and market research. Furthermore, everyone can use a little help with thinking through a line of inquiry to support and direct their research, so in this blog, we are going to cover the following topics:

  • Preparing for meetings with customers & stakeholders
  • Thinking ahead to the solicitation
  • Developing research questions to support your supplier & market research
  • Researching cost and schedule considerations

For the full blog on Step 2, go here.

 The third stepUse a Mix of Research Resources

When it comes to doing your best government market research, it’s not enough to simply rely on Google or web-based search. You need to use a mix of resources to find your top government contractors. Whether it’s a list of government contractors or a database of labor rates paid, you can find many great resources beyond company websites and capability statements, but only if you know where to look.

When you’re looking for information on suppliers, several resources exist. There’s the Product Service Code Manual, NIGP Codes, the Federal Procurement Data System, GSA’s eLibrary representing the Federal Supply Schedules, and countless state listings of government contractor companies. Fortunately, you don’t have to search every single one of these sites to get information on suppliers. GovShop has aggregated all of that data into a single, easy to use interface.

For the full blog on Step 3, go here.

The fourth stepIdentify the Right Keywords and Commodity Codes

In this blog, we want to focus on a more tactical approach to performing market research: finding the best keywords to yield excellent results.

Today, we start most if not all of our research online. Search engines like Google and Bing are incredibly adept at cataloging all the information on the web, but it’s up to you to give instructions in the form of search terms. That’s why the old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” holds true when you’re doing market research.

In other words, if your search terms are bad or inaccurate, the results aren’t going to be any better. That’s why it’s important to identify the best search terms, which means identifying the right keywords that best describe your products or services. As we discussed in our blog, Six Tips for Your Best Market Research, taking the time to find your best keywords will save you time and increase the value of your supplier and market research.

So how do we do it better? This blog will expand on several techniques for finding the best keywords:

  1. Using Google to refine your search terms
  2. Digging into category codes like PSC, NAICs and NIGP
  3. Reviewing contract vehicles & relevant contract documents

For the full blog on Step 4, go here.

Spend Matters will update this series when PSF publishes the remaining posts on the last three steps to better market research.

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