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How to build your first GovCon Capture Strategy with Google Bard?

Simplify the capture process with Google Bard.

Compound Leverage

Issue #004

Stoic Wisdom of the Day

“The only thing that is in our power is our own mind."

- Epictetus

Hello, Happy Sunday,

2016, I won a large government contract to build a data center and case management system with a teaming partner. This event marked a turning point in my life. Between 2015 and 2019, I won $6 million in federal contracts.

I experienced the highs and lows of government contracting. I learned the importance of understanding the focus. I discovered that government contracting success requires a clear strategy, a focus on core capabilities, and the ability to stand out from the crowd with market intelligence, commitment, patience, and executing plans.

The people I met doing well in government contracting were not simply spraying and praying. They had a well-defined plan, and they worked on it daily.

I also saw the power of market intelligence inside OIG Reports, Strategic Plans, and legislative news. Those who could gather and analyze relevant data could position themselves over those who did not.

In 2019, I took a break from government contracting. However, I began educating others about my government contracting experiences, sharing resources, and giving capture strategy advice, particularly to entrepreneurs in the early stages of their GovCon journey.

I quickly realized that many people were receiving information contrasting with what worked for me by teaching spray-and-pray tactics. These methods are not a strategy.

In my experience, success in government contracting requires a plan. This is where Google Bard and AI come in.

AI accelerates the time you spend sifting through data to craft capture strategies. In this article, I will walk you through how I help early-stage GovCons use Google Bard to build capture strategies in four steps.

  1. Pre-work to build the capture strategy in Google Bard

  2. Building the capture in Google Bard

  3. Managing the strategy inside a Google Sheet

  4. Analyzing market data to update your capture strategy

Using tools like Google Bard, you can create a competitive advantage by accelerating the data collection and analysis process.

AI is a game-changer for early-stage GovCons. It is an integral part of my daily income strategy and hopefully yours.

Let's get started!


Step 1: Pre-work to build the capture strategy in Google Bard

Before making a capture strategy, answer these questions about your business.

  1. What do I have the expertise and past performance in?

  2. What two to three agencies can I focus my efforts around?

  3. Where do I have past performance and a network to source around?

  4. What are my differentiators from other bidders?

  5. What is your contracting acquisition strategy?

  6. How will I leverage my contracting status or set-aside vehicles for contracts?

  7. What prime contractors can I engage to create subcontracting opportunities

  8. What value can I offer around problems that no one else can?

  9. How will I leverage headwind and tailwind data for competitive advantage?

  10. What are my long, medium, and short-term bidding plans?

  11. What are my fiscal year contracting goals?

  12. What level of contracts can I service and deliver successfully?

  13. What contracts can I bid on fixed-price, time and materials, cost plus, etc?

Once you know the answers to these or other capture strategy questions, you can start crafting the strategy in Google Bard. Please note these are example questions, and feel free to expand or collapse the questions around your unique needs.

Step 2: Building the capture in Google Bard

Now that you can elaborate on prompts to input into Google Bard, we can begin building your capture strategy. The first step is for you to tell Bard,

“I want you to act as my capture strategist; I am a new government contractor and want to craft a capture strategy for this fiscal year from October 1st through September 30th. You are an expert in government contracting who has won billions in government contracts. I will ask you questions about my business, strategy, and goals. I want you to ask me questions to help build my capture strategy.

Here are the questions.

  1. What do I have the expertise and past performance in?

  2. What two to three agencies can I focus my efforts around?

  3. Where do I have past performance and a network to source around?

  4. What are my differentiators from other bidders?

  5. What is your contracting acquisition strategy?

  6. How will I leverage my contracting status or set-aside vehicles for contracts?

  7. What prime contractors can I engage to create subcontracting opportunities

  8. What value can I offer around problems that no one else can?

  9. How will I leverage headwind and tailwind data for competitive advantage?

  10. What are my long, medium, and short-term bidding plans?

  11. What are my fiscal year contracting goals?

  12. What level of contracts can I service and deliver successfully?

  13. What contracts can I bid on fixed-price, time and materials, cost plus, etc?

    Do you understand?”

You will receive the response below.

If you have a sample capture strategy you want to use, tell Google Bard that you have a sample capture strategy you want to say to it as it develops your plan. Feel free to expand on the contracting questions. The key is to ensure you leverage your unique insights about the market and business to build a well-crafted strategy.

Next, tell it to begin asking each question about your capture strategy question one by one.

After you complete the exercise, feed it additional information about your capture strategy. One example might be, “My goal is to win three contracts this fiscal year. Please tell me the average size of the contract and the criteria to decide what I should and should not bid on.” and

“Once I answer all of your questions, I want you to ask me questions I may not have thought of and then build my capture strategy for the next 12 months.”
Once you complete the exercise, your next step is to ask it to write up a capture strategy for the next twelve months with a 90-day action plan.

Transfer the strategy wherever you plan to house your strategy document. I like using Google Docs for this to refine and optimize it.

Note: Leverage Sam.gov, agency procurement portals, forecasts, OIG reports, Strategic plans, events, small business liaisons, online communities, SBA, and PTAC to enhance your AI strategy.


Step 3: Managing the strategy inside a Google Sheet

I use a Google Sheet to manage the capture strategy. By tracking your progress in a centralized location, you can measure how well your capture strategy is going and where you can improve.

Here are the ways you can use the Google Sheet to manage your capture strategy:

  • Track the forecast of opportunities. The first tab is a sales forecast sheet that you can use to manage deals in seven different stages. I have definitions for each step inside the spreadsheet.

  • Opportunity Tracking. The second tab lists the opportunities you consider including in your capture strategy to determine whether or not to bid on them.

  • Teaming Partner listing. The third tab is to track potential teaming partners you are considering by opportunities you plan to bid on.

  • Capture Strategy summary. The fourth tab summarizes the critical factors for your capture strategy to help with your opportunity analysis process.

  • Track your NAICS codes. The last tab lists the NAICS codes you are bidding on with your capture strategy.

You can make a copy of the Google Sheet template here.

​Step 4: Analyzing market data to update your capture strategy

There are several ways to gather market data that can be used to update your capture strategy. Some of the most common sources of market data include:

  • Government websites

  • Industry publications

  • Market research

  • Trade organizations

  • News and Networking events

  • Your experiences and internal data

  • Award announcements

  • Debriefs from unsuccessful bids

  • Understanding the FAR and DFAR

Once you've gathered market data, you can use it to update your capture strategy in several ways. For example, you can use market data to:

  • Identify new opportunities

  • Assess the competition

  • Decide what set-aside and contract vehicles to go after

  • Develop specific differentiators and problems

  • Refine your teaming strategy

  • Modify your pricing strategy

Regularly reviewing and updating your capture strategy ensures that you're always giving yourself a chance to win contracts. I see new contractors suffering by not understanding budget dynamics when they respond to proposals and remember the government is mission-driven.

Stay current on your data and market trends to ensure your capture strategy is always relevant and practical.

Closing Thoughts

To successfully build a capture strategy, you need to focus on the daily activities you need to be successful by thinking about who your government customer is and is not. Where I see people make a mistake is targeting an area they have little to no experience as their starting point. Leverage AI to assist you in making data-driven decisions to give you clarity on where to focus your time. This is a long game; starting small and focused will pay off over time.

If you know anyone who would enjoy my AI productivity tips, please have them subscribe at marvharris.com.

Good luck building your next capture strategy with Google Bard,

Marvin Harris

Whenever you're ready, here are three ways I can assist you:

 1. ​You want tools or templates. Visit the Tools section of my website. Click here to make a Google Workspace tool request. (free)

 2. You want a one-on-one session. ($200 an hour)

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