Procurement Corner: Capability Statements ……. ”Building Your Brand”

As you continue building your one-page business Capability Statement, remember that your primary goal is demonstrating your best value and creating lasting impressions, i.e., branding your business. Secondly, target reducing the amount of time that buyers will need to research your company by highlighting key information about your capabilities, products and services. Provide critical need-to-know information up front, make it easy to read and, always remember that more is not necessarily better, never over-embellish and, leave nothing to interpretation!

So, after completing your “What sets (your company name) apart from the competition” section, focus on demonstrating how you are “qualified” to offer/sell your products or services to government agencies (federal, state or local) and/or their authorized prime contractors. In my example, I have chosen “products” rather than “services” but you can merely substitute the appropriate information for whatever it is that your company offers. As stated above, making the buyers’ job easier is one of our main goals, so in this section include specific information about your company that gets that job done. A good start is your DUNS number and CAGE code (bold font), followed by the NAICS codes that clearly represent your company’s commodities/services. Oftentimes, buyers search using NAICS codes so be sure that the ones you have chosen adequately reflect your business. Some business owners have a tendency to create what seems to be an endless list of NAICS codes. Generally speaking, I usually pass over them and move on. Include the appropriate “product manufacturing” codes for those products that you offer that are manufacturer brand specific and for which you are authorized to sell. These codes are usually used for federal procurements (see example). This will be a good place for any other notable information such as GSA schedules, certifications, etc. Keep it easy-to-read, never overcrowd. You might consider adding a simple border around this section merely to highlight it and make it stand out a bit more.

Next, references. Compile a short but powerful list of some past/present representative customers. It’s good to include commercial, industry and government if you have them. This helps demonstrate diversification, financial stability and generally, reduced risks. It should be obvious, but ever include any entities or agencies that you have not done business with. To do so could severely jeopardize your credibility, and once lost, you will be hard-pressed to win it back. Don’t make your list so long that you lose your readers attention (or put them to sleep!).

Now, I suggest that you take the time to review all of your information. Consider adding “color” where appropriate, i.e., light colors to “accent” certain areas or just to break up the monotony of a single dark color throughout. If you have some additional space, you can add other pertinent information, but don’t go crazy!

At this point you should engage a few professional and personal acquaintances for a candid review. Be sure never to take “constructive criticism” personally. All observations are positive. Once reviewed and finalized, you now have a great marketing tool. Use it in hardcopy as a “handout” or electronically as an introductory and branding mechanism.

As mentioned previously, there’s nothing “sacred” about my format or content. Both are merely based on personal preferences from my experience with government/prime contractor procurement. Keep them simple and easy to read, nothing to interpretation. Besides conveying the limited amount of information on your business card, it needs to clearly set you apart from your competition. When I read yours, it should convey that AHA!!! that I’m looking for!!

Click here for a sample capabilities statement.

Remember, there’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Which is yours?

Scott Sealing is a Procurement Consultant with the UH SBDC (TX) and an ASBDC member. He also works closely with the UH PTAC (TX) and is an APTAC member. He specializes in counseling small businesses through the rigorous process of registering with government agencies, and then researching and bidding on government contracts. He also provides SBIR/STTR proposal development support. Scott has over 28 years of procurement and logistics experience working for A&D prime contractors on federal contracts. He supported NASA contracts in NM, TX, FL, AL CA and, DoD contracts in NM and CA. Scott is a certified Supply Chain Management (SCM) Professional (SCOR) and is certified in the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt curriculum. He has authored white papers on SCM and conducted domestic & international presentations for government, industry, and academia on procurement and supporting government contracts and, on the effective application of SCM tools & techniques.