Strategy & Integrated Communications

General Services Administration Federal Acquisition Service

Branding and Marketing a New Government Organization

Every year, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) delivers nearly $66 billion of products, services, and property to government agencies worldwide. In 2005, Congress merged two GSA customer-facing services to create the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS). The goal of this new GSA organization would be improving customer service by simplifying its offerings to customers. Sage was brought in to refine the new service’s messages and strengthen its brand image in the market.

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Situation:

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) provides mission support to government agencies by delivering nearly $66 billion of products, services, and property needed to meet national priorities. In 2005, Congress merged two GSA customer-facing services, the Federal Technology Service (FTS) and the Federal Supply Service (FSS), to create the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS).

In the past, GSA did not address customer needs by finding solutions to specific customer problems. Instead, they focused on finding the right existing purchasing contract for a customer to use to obtain a product or service (i.e., GWACs, IDIQs, BPAs, and Schedules). This focus confused both customers and stakeholders and resulted in a very fractured brand. GSA FAS turned to Sage Communications to refine its messages and strengthen its brand image in the market as a customer organization and a solution provider.

Objective:

To introduce the newly created Federal Acquisition Service to its customer base and educate potential customers about the new organization’s focus on being a solutions provider.

Our Process:

After listening to both GSA employees and their customers, Sage recommended an integrated brand communications strategy that emphasized a customer-centric approach. The goal was to increase market awareness of GSA’s product and service offerings while accentuating the agency’s renewed focus on customer service. By shifting FAS market strategy away from promoting “contracts” towards a “solutions-based” approach, the plan would support a new slogan – “One Country. One Mission. One Source.” Sage would also develop an “At Your Service” icon to support the service message.

Sage applied its Integrated Brand Communications (IBC) model to develop advertising initiatives and marketing materials in support of the new GSA/FAS brand position. The goal was to connect with the customer at every level of the buying process—awareness, consideration, preference, and sale. The approach used a wide range of tactical marketing methods to deliver the messaging simultaneously, including targeted print, online and radio advertising, e-mail campaigns, signage, and posters.

In addition, Sage created a comprehensive Customer Assistance Guide to the procurement process, as well as a suite of brochures presenting its simplified solution set of “customer-centric” offerings: Products, Services, Travel, Transportation, Technology, and Motor Vehicle Management.

Results:

The print ads and web banners Sage created ran in a variety of government trade publications, securing nearly 9.7 million impressions between print and interactive media. The online banner ads received approximately 4,000 click-throughs in just the first two months of the campaign. The guide to procurement and brochures featuring FAS’s solution set were developed and delivered in time to meet a critical deadline for GSA Expo, the agency’s annual conference dedicated to educating and training GSA customers and vendor partners. Nearly 10,000 people attended the Expo and received copies of the collateral material upon entering the conference hall. According to GSA staff in attendance, “The material was flying off the shelf!”

The integrated advertising and marketing campaign were successful in communicating key messages to GSA’s target audiences, Instead of talking to customers about hard-to-understand contracts, GSA representatives were seen as looking for clear solutions to customer needs. The campaign also created significant awareness and consideration of FAS’s new value proposition and resulted in an increase in sales over the previous year. GSA’s recognition of the success of the FAS branding initiative has since resulted in the award of a new contract to Sage and plans to develop the GSA brand on a corporate level.

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