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Confessions of a Cybersecurity Digital Marketer3

After almost a decade as a digital marketer, I have seen the digital experience change year over year – but 2020 proved to be the one that has challenged us all.  Here are my confessions as a digital marketer.

Digital marketers are challenged to establish brand and market leadership, work to consistently improve ROI, and ensure that demand is converting to revenue – no matter the state of the world or the economy.  Now add in the competitive noise, increased push to digitize all communications and engagements, and that what you are pitching is crypto-complicated – well, suddenly your job as a B2B marketer just became that much more difficult.

One reason that marketing security to enterprise clients is so tricky is that all vendors are saying the same things, in the same places. Only 29% of buyers want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product or solution – so our messages get lost in the noise.

Imagine yourself going to the local pharmacy searching for the best supplements –but every 2 seconds you are getting a company representative trying to convince you why his premium product will help your nutrition, what makes his formula the winning one, and why the price is not the issue when you purchase this kind of product. If you are getting a new pitch every 2 minutes, you are not going to buy anything at all.  So how do you distinguish your marketing strategy from all the others?

Identifying the Right Persona within the Enterprise

In a nutshell, a buyer persona is a representation of our ideal customer. Every so often, companies will have multiple buyer personas to accommodate different job titles, service lines, or other vital differentiators.

The path to purchasing a security solution is not always linear or determined by one stakeholder. Cybersecurity marketers must understand that every persona will have specific security needs based on job function; those personas can be grouped into many silos within the organization, which makes the number of personas who are responsible for the organization security as many as a few hundred job titles.

The primary personas we market to for enterprise-level clients include the Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), and technical (architects and engineers) or IT stakeholders. Large enterprises include extensive workforces and highly structured hierarchies. Therefore, it is essential to know which person you need to speak to about security, as well as understanding that person’s and the organization’s needs and priorities.

It becomes even more complicated when you think you can effectively market to this extremely broad audience; hence to market to the enterprise we need to focus on creating a customer journey that speaks directly to each audience segment. To accomplish this, start by segmenting your audience and identifying their needs at each stage of their journey.

Structuring the Buyer Journey

The Buyer Journey is the process each one of us goes through to purchase a new product or service. It does not matter if we are referring to a new insurance policy that you are researching for your family or a new cyber solution that you want to implement in your organization; whether your purchase is impulsive or involves a conscious decision, you go through what is called a buyer’s journey. HubSpot has a short and sweet definition that goes like this:

“The buyer’s journey is the active research process a buyer goes through leading up to a purchase.”

57% of buyer decisions are made before buyers even pick up a phone to speak to a supplier.

The new B2B buyer behaves like a B2C consumer, and they expect the same purchase experience and level of service. These days, buying decisions are based on a buyer’s direct or indirect customer experience and are not only based on the price or the actual offering; buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than vendors control the selling.

This places more focus on identifying the persona and building a content strategy around their needs, and the pains of those personas. It is time to create the journey based on the digital experience of that user cycle.

82% of buyers viewed at least five pieces of content from the winning vendor. (Forrester1)

By providing value and answers at every stage of the journey, we can nurture prospects toward making a decision, providing expert guidance with a personalized message according to their particular buying stage and helping them understand better your products and solutions and how they answer the problems of the prospect.

Messaging at Enterprise Scale

As a digital marketer, it clear that the primary strategy around content marketing will lead to more buy-ins and positive engagement from a large organization, but this also requires delivering valuable, relevant, and consistent content.

In marketing cybersecurity products and solutions, it is easy to assume that going “to the top” of the hierarchy in the organization will help you increase your revenue since the executive level will be the decision-maker. I think that companies should embrace the “bottom-up” approach and target developers, IT admins, PKI teams, etc. While executives can see the overall value of your product to the organization in terms of security and business, they will often pass the purchase decision down to the middle management or the technical, cryptography, and engineering teams for the final decision. Security products are complicated and critical; therefore, they must consider existing infrastructure, compliance, vendor compatibility, and standardization of the enterprise.

A technical message has a reputation for boring content — and the question is, “how can we create compelling content for the different stages of the journey?” For example, for the CISO, it will be evident that the focus should be on how your solutions can help them collect data on the organization’s current risks and needs, how to improve the operations of the security team, and how to grow the business without letting cybersecurity solutions be the burden. The CISO’s job will be to translate it effectively to their non-technical colleagues in the executive team.

For the IT Stakeholder and middle management, I would like to convince these technical experts that the data you provide can help them communicate with their superiors, as well as helping them stay safe in a constantly changing cybersecurity landscape.

It Comes Down to the Experience

The Marketing team works hard to establish the brand as a thought leader, to educate through content, through webinars, PRs, and alliances.

When the technology you are marketing is disruptive, and you are trying to educate the target audience on a product that replaces a legacy solution, the work is that much harder. Many prospects believe vendors are responsible for solving problems, educating them around  best practices and how to keep the cryptographic hygiene of the organization — but it’s not only about the “what,” but also about the “who.”

The buyers are not just after content and education. They are after content experiences. This means you need to work harder to meet their demands. Therefore, you must focus on optimizing content formats for digital consumption, for the digital-savvy person who is not willing to invest more than 3 minutes in reviewing content (for the first time). Practically, this means we invest a lot of effort to provide better automation and better personalization — for example, chatbots that will help sort out content and generate conversations with leads.(2)

Summary:

Just as B2C companies have been adopting advanced technologies, such as automation, AI and big data to improve their customer experiences, we will see more B2B organizations relying on them as well.  Therefore, the aim of a digital marketer in the world of cybersecurity marketing is to enhance the user experience in the digital world, via the website, and on social media.

Marketing to the enterprise has always been considered a relationship that is all business — but as more data and tools become available to tailor those relationships, personalization will thrive in B2B as it has in digital consumer channels. In addition, enterprise buyers are looking at their vendors as more than just product or service providers, but rather partners that help them grow their businesses.

These are the core values of Unbound Security, and this is why the Marketing team is working hard to bring those values to customers.

[1]  The Future of B2B Marketing; New Tactics for a New Generation

[2] Own The Moment: B2B Marketing Trends For 2020