4 unique ways to market in the world of cybersecurity
In a highly-disrupted space riddled with emergent challenges, it’s increasingly crucial that cybersecurity marketers know how to express brand purpose, nurture effective channel partnerships and take advantage of on-the-ground opportunities to build relationships, writes Critical Start chief marketer Carrie Kelly.
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At the recent RSA Conference — an annual IT security event, held this year in San Francisco — the expo floor was brimming with security vendors, partners and information security executives looking to advance their security posture and operations. Considering the many different perceived security challenges, solutions, products and services evidences just how dynamic — and perhaps volatile — this industry can really be.
The increasingly complex landscape of information security makes it difficult to get noticed in the space — whether you’re a chief information security officer (CISO) aiming to level up your businesses’ security posture or an analyst who is exhausted and overwrought with alerts around the clock.
So, what can a cybersecurity marketer do to help CISOs and their teams make great decisions for their business? It’s the job of marketers to make the entire buyer experience as simple and frictionless as possible. In cybersecurity, that doesn’t necessarily mean applying the typical direct-to-buyer marketing strategy. This framework might prove effective, but there are a few additional levers to pull in order to achieve an impactful pipeline and desired revenue results.
Here are the top four ‘must-dos’ for every cybersecurity marketer.
1. Stand for something clear and meaningful
Customers (and partners) want to know the brand’s purpose. Why do you exist? What is its mission and core focus? Does it align with theirs? In a heavily commoditized, noisy space like managed detection and response, this might end up being the only distinction between you and the other guys.
Marketers must stand for something that speaks to their target audience. Does this audience want a strategic partner? Do they simply want an easier way to achieve their goals? Become crystal clear on buyers’ needs and build a position around that. Ensure the message comes across in all marketing efforts. Positioning and distinction in the marketplace matters more than most realize.
2. Love your channel partners and alliances
Whether the brand’s go-to-market strategy is 100% through the channel or this plays only a small role, know how important it can be in your marketing and sales process. The channel comes with a built-in customer base. A given channel often has deep relationships with those customers and act as trusted advisors to them. Your marketing strategy should consist of a strong market-to and market-through plan concerning the channel ecosystem. Make sure brand partners truly understand how your offering is different, better than the competition and why they will be happier recommending your solution rather than a competitor’s.
It’s critical to invest time, resources and budget to crafting partner-focused materials to help educate and enable the channel. Build trusting relationships with channel partner marketing and sales teams, and plan together. Align on goals and understand their needs. Agree on what you can do for each other, and how you’ll ensure their success — and be sure you deliver for them. If you show them love, they’ll return it in spades. Above all, be consistent. Extra tip: always have great swag options for both channel partners and customers.
3. See industry analysts as your matchmakers
This is particularly important for any emerging business or a business in an evolving or emerging space. Industry analysts are deep in the research and knowledge of how and why markets are evolving, and they often have a deep understanding of the technology that is influencing those markets. They are the voice of your customers and the ones analyzing your products and solutions on behalf of those customers. Industry analysts are essentially the matchmakers between a customer and a provider.
They offer insights, guidance and brutal but necessary feedback for both parties, to ensure the best possible outcomes for all. If a customer is struggling with a decision between two vendors who look equally good on paper, the tiebreaker will either be a call to an analyst or a closer look at a vendor assessment written by an analyst. Industry analysts are among the most valuable third-party voices to aid in a customer’s decision.
Make sure you’re investing in analyst research and getting direct guidance and feedback from key industry analysts who write about your space. The more they know about your business, the more information they have to share with inquiring customers. Let them guide you when it comes to product innovation and strategic messaging. Share plans with them prior to a launch to garner their insights and help shape your strategy. In turn, if they are aware of what you’re working on, they’ll be better-equipped to advise customers on provider decisions.
Relationships with industry analysts are worth nurturing. They could be the relationship that lead you to the ultimate win.
4. Know the power of events
Again, relationships matter. That means showing up wherever you can, in-person, to meet with prospects, customers and partners. This does not mean forgoing your typical digital strategy. Data from Gartner suggests that 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels by 2025. However, in the world of cybersecurity, field marketing efforts are equally as important, and in many cases, take the lead in terms of impact to pipeline and revenue.
A strategy can be extremely impactful if you align your channel marketing efforts directly into the field with your partners as well. Whether you’re co-sponsoring a partner event, showing up at a third-party trade show or hosting your own local events, the field can be the most effective place to get in front of target audiences and create trusted relationships. Check out local security events across regions. Allocate budget and resources to show up at these events and overlay this tactic with a strong digital program for air cover and funnel progression. That consistent omnichannel experience is another critical distinction that your customers will make during the buying process.
At the end of the day, the most effective marketing comes to life because there’s passion behind it. In the cybersecurity space, there should be no shortage of passion. The great thing about working in this space is knowing that the solutions, services and tools powering it are designed to protect businesses and individuals. They ensure that cybersecurity professionals, who are guarding the perimeter, are equipped to prevent breaches around the clock — and possibly get a little more sleep from time to time.
Carrie Kelly is chief marketing officer at Critical Start.