“Risk is in the DNA of everything defence related”- Justin O’Brien

Companies with watertight marketing strategies, strong branding and alluring video content are the most likely to establish strong business connections when competing for defence contracts, according to a leading industry expert.

A concise and targeted marketing campaign also provided businesses an opportunity to make a great first impression and establish initial connections, said Justin O’Brien, creative director of video production company redbikini and B2B digital marketing business LOOP.

Mr O’Brien said it was vital for businesses to have a positive digital profile in order to stand out and “nudge” their tender in the right direction, noting the increasing competition vying for defence projects in South Australia.

“When people start analysing your business as a potential partner, it’s important that you’re putting your best foot forward,” he said.

“When a tender lands on someone’s desk from a business they may not be overly familiar with, the first thing they’ll do is desktop research to look at who you are.

“And when you have a competitive tender that makes it through to the second round of evaluation, this is where good marketing, your content, your website, can nudge your tender in the right direction.”

Justin O'Brien redbikini

Article: Justin O’Brien

Mr O’Brien said marketing was about finding the best environment to sell a company’s products and services and putting them in front of the decision makers.

“Your website, digital communications and media communications all play an important role in continuing the sales process when you’re not in front of your customers,” he said.

Risk management was also a key factor contributing towards a successful tender process.

“Risk is in the DNA of everything defence related,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Keeping our defence force personnel is the principle driving factor in all defence procurement. But other factors such as workplace health and safety, cybersecurity and intellectual property are also vitally important.”

With contracts worth millions and even billions of dollars, defence companies looking to buy a product or service from another business want to be shown how potential risk factors can be minimized.

“When an organisation looks to an SME, the first thing they do is look to a risk analysis in order to establish whether they’re in safe hands,” Mr O’Brien said, adding that a lot can be determined based on a company’s website.

“Having brand and marketing assets that demonstrate your commitment to risk mitigation and effective quality procedures can be very advantageous in a tender environment.

“If you have a website that looks like it was designed in 1990 and you do little in terms of communication and managing your company’s own story these could be seen as negatives to some procurement officers”.

Mr O’Brien said this due diligence was also performed by companies moving into the Australian market to facilitate defence procurement.

“These organisations will be looking to partner with industry to fulfill local content requirements and they will apply the same criteria – the businesses that look to have their act together will be the ones to receive the first phone calls,” he said.

“Having a good tender is just the price of entry. If you don’t have a good competitive tender with the right product with the right risk with the right profile you won’t go anywhere.”

Like all business, defence organisations were also more likely to choose companies they knew of or had come recommended so it was imperative to have a well-executed and strategic marketing plan that was ahead of the curve.

“In defence as in life, familiarity matters,” Mr O’Brien said.

“People who know a brand or have had some sort of history with it, that familiarity produces an environment where they’re more likely to progress things because they have confidence that they’ll take the right steps going forward. It builds confidence.”

Mr O’Brien said it was important to note that tenders were never viewed in isolation and those likely to be chosen both ticked all the boxes and were a step ahead of their competitors.

“Often you’ll have competing products at the same level,” he said.

“Your website, digital communications, media communications all play an important role in continuing the sales pitch when you’re not in front of your customers and in order to work effectively, they need to be strategic.”

Mr O’Brien said video was a valuable marketing tool to effectively drive home the abilities of a business.

“A really well-executed video about your commitment to quality and employee safety might be what puts your tender within one per cent of the finish line,” he said.

“Whether someone is the CEO or a junior procurement officer, the one thing that unites them is that they find video easier to consume than the written word.

“A well-made short video that is of interest to them will perform better than a page of text – it’s strategic content, readily available and easy to consume.”

Mr O’Brien said often businesses made the mistake of not investing time and money into marketing themselves properly, which was detrimental to their brand.

“A lot of SMEs looking to target defence don’t have the time or money to put into it, it’s one of those things that get left on the to-do list,” he said.

“Those organisations that can recognise the opportunities that come with sound marketing and communication, and spend time and money on their brand so their organisation looks professional across the board, understand that it could be the difference between making it on the tender list to begin with.”

Mr O’Brien said it was vital for businesses to see the bigger picture.

“The bottom line is if you don’t view your business holistically and view marketing and communications as one of a number of vital cogs required to drive your business you’ll miss out on opportunities.”

Redbikini/LOOP boasts more than a decade of experience working for organisations in a B2B environment in defence and helps South Australian businesses set clear, realistic and measurable goals to generate growth.

With one of Australia’s largest defence vision libraries and an affordable step-by-step digital marketing program that identifies opportunities and assists clients to take advantage of them, the team at redbikini/LOOP stand ready to take your business to the next level.

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