Cybersecurity Marketing has become as complex, and as much a moving target, as the security market itself. A brief walkthrough Black Hat or RSA will leave even the most seasoned pro confused about where one solution ends and another begins. Today’s cybersecurity businesses (from threat intelligence to edge security and security services firms) are working to not only differentiate their products and services but also their thought leadership programs to build higher brand awareness and be seen as the most knowledgeable and forward-thinking security experts in the industry.
But what makes a solid cybersecurity thought leadership program?
What works best in one industry may not be as effective in another. Security pros sell services primarily to other security-minded individuals, and what impresses them is different than what sells a leading cola, or even a hardware platform.
In order to implement an effective thought leadership program, companies need to prioritize certain tactics executed with a slant toward cyber audience appeal. Below are what we have found to be the top five most effective tactical elements in an overall thought leadership strategy. If specifically built, designed and delivered with the tech-savvy buyer in mind, they can drive more clicks, reads, leads, and pull through for your cyber product or service.
Catch the Wave
Cybersecurity news is rife with stories about recent hacks because they command headlines. You can tap into this wave via media articles, social commentary, and blogs—but with an important caveat. The market is tired of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt); if you take the approach of touching upon the incident only briefly, and then advising readers/customers how to protect themselves, avoid becoming a victim or apply lessons learned/best practice security in their environments, you position your company as a knowledgeable advisor rather than an ambulance chaser.
If you cover the specific facts of the cyber incident in detail, you could not only be seen as taking advantage of a company’s misfortune, you also risk getting the facts wrong—cyber incident details continually change, and diving into the details could come back to haunt you. Use the news but take the high ground.
Drip, Drip, Drip
In today’s mobile, the social media-conditioned world thought leadership is often consumed in bite-size chunks, and these snippets are more effective when dripped out over the course of time. How you serve up your message is almost as important as what you say. If you are releasing a white paper, consider providing a sneak peek of key facts on social media channels. Release infographics that emphasize a tantalizing subset of points, leveraging edgy design. Following your launch of the paper (via press release or blog), emphasize these points again using your better-known subject matter experts on social media.
Then, consider releasing bite-sized messages with a vertical market slant, again using infographics, social media, and media pitches. Take advantage of as many approaches as possible get your message out.
Catch the Fish Where They Are Swimming
While your thought leadership program can be successful as a cybersecurity vendor or service provider, it’s more of a challenge. So, get more personal and targeted for more effective results. Leverage the people in your organization to post articles and messages on social media, as engagement rates on postings from individuals are higher (in fact, organizations typically see 8X more engagement in the content shared from employees vs. corporate-owned channels*).
Leverage targeted Digital Advertising, newsletters you can send to curated lists, and send relevant content that speaks specifically to the knowledgeable security buyer.
Tell, Don’t Sell
As Ira Glass of public radio once said: “Great stories happen to people who can tell them.” Share your thought leadership in the context of a story or meaningful information that real people can use in real business. Never explicitly push your company or products in thought leadership (you have marketing collateral for that!). Thought leadership is the domain of sharing great thoughts and learnings—not selling.
Sales techniques mostly demonstrate that you are new to thought leadership.
Data Is King
Cybersecurity personnel are highly intelligent and appreciate data. One of the key differences between cyber thought leadership and that of consumer products or even many B2B products and services is the “cut through the clutter” mentality of its audience. Hyperbole, fluff, and broad generalizations don’t cut it. Research reports, white papers, infographics with concrete and verifiable data upon which organizations can base decisions will go a long way to building credibility.
There are many Marketing tactics and methods that are common across all markets and have been tried and true over time. Cybersecurity has its own nuances (as does every industry); by knowing your audience and leveraging the tactics that appeal and inspire interest, your thought leadership program can gain greater traction and be more effective in building your brand.