- Talking TechComms: Building a cyber-security brand
- Landing a media briefing at cyber-security trade shows like Black Hat
Talking TechComms: Building a cyber-security brand
By Joel Khalili
Executing an effective cyber-security marketing plan can prove quite the challenge in a market environment that is more crowded and more cynical than ever.
As a result of the introduction of GDPR and a spate of high-profile data breaches affecting some of the world’s biggest brands, today’s consumers have become hypersensitive to the uses and abuses of their data.
What’s more, the likelihood of suffering a cyber-attack is on the rise. It’s not a case of if an individual or organization will be affected by a cyber threat, but rather when, with a new report suggesting that small businesses in the UK suffer around 10,000 cyber-attacks every day.
All this means cyber-security brands face heavy competition and scrutiny – from both consumers and business customers. So, what’s the best way to set about building a cyber-security brand in today’s landscape?
Honesty is the best policy
The first thing to remember when it comes to cyber-security marketing is that building trust as a cyber-security company is all about being direct, straightforward and honest.
Many companies make grand claims about their ability to solve all the world’s cyber-security problems, but this is simply impossible. The heavy-handed marketing strategies employed by legacy brands aren’t proving as effective in today’s market, and businesses are no longer as receptive as they once were. In reality, honesty is the best and only way to build trust.
Due in part to its technical nature, the cyber-security industry has always struggled to effectively communicate itself. New jargon appears with each passing week and, by focusing too heavily on the technical features of their products, cyber-security businesses have a tendency to forget the human impact. Cutting through the jargon and drilling down to the central issue – the right to data privacy, for example – is central to a successful cyber-security marketing campaign.
In the b2b cyber-security world, trying to remember that there’s an element of b2c at play is important. If a brand’s content demonstrates an understanding of business and consumer pain-points, and communicates these on a simple and human level, it gives itself the best possible chance of cutting through the noise.
Understand your audience
For a cyber-security business, building trust and communicating value comes down to really understanding the target audience. The audience for a cyber-security brand could be broken down into three categories:
- High-level (e.g. CEO, CTO)
- Analytical (e.g. Security analyst)
- Technical (e.g. Network engineer)
These categories cover all the individuals that a cyber-security brand needs to reach within a business, but there’s no single set of messaging that can be applied across the board. Each audience requires a bespoke approach, because they look at their own business from inherently different perspectives. For example, a high-level audience will be most interested in the return on investment the business is likely to see for a cyber-security solution, whereas a technical audience will be more interested in the nitty gritty of how the solution actually works.
The other factor to remember is that the b2b sales cycle is also far longer than the b2c sales cycle. While a watch or a phone might be purchased on a whim, cyber-security solutions involve a more considerable outlay and therefore decisions aren’t made lightly. This means it’s important for brands to deliver consistent content across the whole sales cycle, designed specifically to address the issues that most concern each of the three audience types.
Be brave and collaborate
Businesses look for a cyber-security brand that is credible, well associated and stands out in a crowded market. Indeed, this could be the difference between a brand becoming a market leader, or shrinking into obscurity.
The cyber-security industry has been having the same old conversations since its conception, so we believe it’s important for marketing to be bold and daring. Brands should take pride in being different, and can even be a little provocative where appropriate.
Another cyber-security marketing tactic to help brands stand out from the crowd is to embrace collaboration. When building technology or software, collaborations can be extremely beneficial from both a technical and reputational standpoint. Collaborating with other well-known companies adds authority to a brand’s position, and shows that a business is transparent and open to conversation instead of being a closed book.
Finally, demonstrating an openness to collaboration positions a cyber-security brand as a modern organization in contast to the typical legacy attitude, which is characterized by suspicion and paranoia.
Partner with an agency
For an overburdened marketing team, employing the right PR agency can provide the support and strategic perspective needed to really carry a brand forward.
The agency relationship works well when it’s collaborative, not transactional. An agency should be there to validate the decisions made by the marketing team, or otherwise push back on those decisions with a justification for doing so. An agency should feel like a natural and integrated extension of the team, and not just a bunch of “Yes Men”.
An agency can also provide a macro perspective of the wider climate and related industries, to support the micro perspective of the internal team working within the cyber-security bubble.
Of course, knowing which agency is right for you can be easier said than done. For tips on navigating the tricky agency selection process check out our blog: How to make sure you pick the right PR agency.
So, effective cyber-security marketing comes down to 5 key tips:
- Be direct, straightforward and honest
- Understand your audience
- Don’t follow the crowd, be brave!
- Embrace collaboration
- Partner with the right agency
For more insight into the challenges and opportunities of cyber-security marketing, take a listen to the latest iteration of the Talking TechComms Podcast!
In this episode, we sat down with one of our cyber-security clients, Noble, whose anomaly detection tool powered by deep learning sifts through tonnes of threat data and eases the burden on security analysts. Tala Baadarani, director of marketing at Noble, and our very own head of digital, Errol Jayawardene, joined our podcast host Sam Pudwell to talk cyber-security marketing and how to build an enterprise security brand. Find out what they had to say about jargon, transparency to prospective clients and the benefits of working closely with IT teams.
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Landing a media briefing at cyber-security trade shows like Black Hat
By Justin Ordman
It’s that time of year again. Thousands of cyber-security professionals have descended on a sweltering Las Vegas for yet another Black Hat conference, which is taking place this week. Businesses have been prepping for this for months, with cyber-security marketing and tech PR professionals pulling out all the stops in order to rise above the noise of a crowded exhibition hall. While Black Hat offers a great opportunity for cyber-security companies to show off their latest and greatest innovations, it’s also a good opportunity for executives to meet with press and analysts face-to-face.
Unless you have the brand awareness of a Cisco or Accenture, or you’re a company with deep cyber-security marketing pockets, this is a lot easier said than done. For starters, press and analysts have limited time to meet with vendors – especially since they’ll be interested in attending several sessions throughout the week. Companies are also competing for face time with dozens (if not hundreds) of other vendors all vying for media attention, so you’ll need to be able to offer something a little more tantalizing to pique their interest.
Here are a few ideas to help secure yourself some briefings at any trade show, be it at a cyber-security show like Black Hat, or other tech-focused trade shows like Mobile World Congress or NAB:
- Hands-on experiences: What can you offer in person that a reporter or analyst won’t be able to get over the phone? This could be anything from offering a live demo at your booth, a photo or video opportunity or an early look at a new product.
- Unveiling research: Have you uncovered a new ransomware trend? Or an additional step in the ever-changing customer journey? Technology trade shows are great for unveiling new research that highlights how the industry is evolving. If you’ve already got a research project in the budget for a different campaign, consider keeping a few findings under wraps that you can release later during an appropriate conference.
- Unleash your heavy hitters: Media will be more interested in speaking with one of your c-level spokespeople than, say, someone in marketing or sales. These are the changemakers within an organization, and have the authority to discuss broader trends and issues impacting the industry that media are writing about.
- Major news: Announcing news at a trade show can be risky. On the one hand, you have a captive audience. On the other, you won’t be the only one announcing news – far from it. The most successful news announcements at trade shows offer something truly new and exciting, whether it’s a new product or a complete overhaul of an old one. New customer or partnership announcements won’t carry as much weight – especially if that customer or partner isn’t attending the show with you, or the results of your partnership have yet to be realized.
- Keep your eyes on the prize: Media and analysts will likely be strolling the expo floor, so keep those eyes peeled for opportunities for a quick hello. (Without becoming a stalker!) Press and analysts are often given special passes that are clearly labeled, so take a look at who’s around you next time you’re in line for coffee or lunch (or simply walking by your booth). Exhibitors will also often get access to a list of attending press and analysts, so familiarize yourself with who will be in attendance, and select a few you want to look for specifically.
- Early bird gets the worm: Evenings are usually chock full of events and parties, but early mornings before the expo hall opens can be a prime opportunity to take a reporter or analyst out for breakfast or coffee before the day properly begins.
Don’t take our word for it
I asked some media friendlies for some anonymous tips on what they look for when accepting briefings at trade shows. One editor at a top cyber-security trade publication said:
I take meetings with folks who are working on new research or findings, or have expertise in an area that I am writing about.
Another editor at a leading publication covering software-defined technologies had this to say:
A lot of it is based on the company and the exec being offered for an interview. About the company: is it one that readers care about and click on stories about? […] Have they been in the headlines recently for good or bad reasons? Do I think their technology is interesting and do I think readers should keep this company on their radar? If it’s a startup: are they doing something new and innovating that I want to learn more about and think readers should as well? And I also look at the executive being offered for the interview; a CEO, CISO, CTO, etc. is much more appealing than a product marketing guy.
It’s not always about coverage
Not every trade show media briefing will result in coverage – and that’s fine! Briefings for the sake of relationship-building are a great way to let press and analysts get to know you and your company and keeps you front of mind next time they’re working on an article or report they think you’d be a good fit for. Background briefings can also help establish trust and give media an opportunity to vet you as a potential future source.
Securing media briefings can be a time-consuming task – especially when timing is everything. Some media and analysts like to start planning their schedules three to four weeks in advance of a trade show. Others like to wait until the week before to still filling their calendars.
Need some extra hands with your cyber-security marketing? Drop us a line at email@example.com.
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