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DoD Developing Online Trade Show To Engage Vendors

Effort hopes to engage small vendors who might not otherwise approach the DoD to do business.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is working on increasing its use of social media combined with video to engage small vendors who might not otherwise approach the DoD to do business, says a former defense official who worked on the department’s new media.

The DoD is working on producing an online trade show where small-business vendors can participate and “stakeout a space just like at a tradeshow,” Jack Holt, the former emerging media senior strategist for the DoD told Government Video. The DoD is pursuing the virtual tradeshow to provide small-businesses with a place where those vendors can meet with government acquisition officials and “talk about what they do, or their products,��� said Holt who was on a panel focused on the DoD and social media sponsored by Ogilvy Public Relations.

“We’ve seen solutions come from small businesses, however, many of the same small businesses believe there’s no way they can do business with the DoD because they don’t have the resources, manpower, or ability” to reach the right people at the DoD, Holt said. The virtual trade show is “a desire to open communication on a broader aspect through social media, and it provides DoD laboratories, scientists and technicians a place to go and catalogue what’s there, and then determine if there’s a vendor they need to engage with because there’s problem that needs to be solved,” he said.

The DoD wants to reach those vendors and ask, “Are you working on something we need to know about?” Holt said. The online trade show will enable acquisition offices to tell vendors “here’s the problems we have, here’s what we’re looking for, is someone working on this, does anyone have a solution,” he said. “You cannot underestimate the power of those small engagements,” he added.

However, the DoD’s online trade show is “still in development,” Holt said. A virtual tradeshow is “such a departure from the normal way of doing business,” but the DoD is “working on how to make that work,” he said.