The Frustrations of a Cybersecurity CMO
Thanks to omnipresent security threats, cybersecurity CMOs no longer need to demonstrate the importance for companies to get proactive about their company’s cybersecurity resilience. Their challenge has progressed to muddier waters; figuring out how to market this already well-defined requirement and be heard in a space dominated by established and veteran vendors, carving out a new and nuanced message.
Setting the Scene
In 2017, there were approximately 3.5 million malicious applications wreaking havoc on businesses in all verticals, causing companies significant losses of time and money. The average number of cybersecurity breaches rose by over 27 percent, from an average of 102 breaches annually to 130. Thanks to omnipresent security threats, cybersecurity CMOs no longer need to demonstrate the importance for companies to get proactive about their company’s cybersecurity resilience. Their challenge has progressed to muddier waters; figuring out how to market this already well-defined requirement and be heard in a space dominated by established and veteran vendors, carving out a new and nuanced message.
Through our work over the years with dozens of cybersecurity clients, we’ve identified several recurring marketing challenges. We’ve listed the most prominent ones below.
Challenge #1: Identifying and Agreeing on the Right Target Audience/s
Many CMOs make the mistake of casting their marketing nets as wide as possible in search of opportunities that will ultimately lead to the golden revenue promise. Casting wide is only really feasible if you have substantial budgets, dedicated messaging, targeted marketing tools and processes per audience. Most companies do not and therefore the result is bland messaging and marketing tools that do not mean much to anyone. The graveyard masses of unqualified leads that will never convert - cluttering your CRM, reflecting a chunk of wasted marketing budget - is a scene no CMO needs.
To overcome this, we recommend mixing traditional inbound marketing methodology with Account-Based Marketing (ABM) approach. This combination forces marketers to better identify their low hanging fruit and develop the contacts that will have a higher conversion potential from leads to opportunities. Focusing on quality over quantity, leads to a far more effective marketing budget - which will also impact the ROI directly.
Challenge #2: Oversaturation of Cybersecurity Vendors
There are over 2500 cybersecurity vendors in the marketplace competing for the same clients’ attention and budgets. “Suddenly, we are in this situation where there are just too many vendors and too few can be sustained,” notes Dave DeWalt, the former CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye Inc.
Fierce competition means that cybersecurity marketing teams have a very tough job to make their product stand out with a unique brand presence, crystal clear message, and aggressive pricing.
Many cybersecurity CMOs fail to differentiate their products from the competition. Instead, they recycle the same dull industry messages or, worse, reuse their own company’s unsuccessful messaging. Half a day at RSA Conference is sufficient to grasp the severity of this problem. If you remove the logos from most booths, there is very little (if anything) that will differentiate one company’s message and brand experience from their neighbors’. This is a marketing disaster.
Challenge #3: High Cost of Entry
In most industries, CMOs can do their research and build a marketing plan that suits their budget and growth plans amidst the veteran vendors. But in the cybersecurity industry, there is an extremely high bar to entry. Companies need deep pockets in order to pay to play. There is little choice whether to rebuild the website, spend significantly on PPC, SEO, branding, SMM and regular participation and sponsorships at industry conferences. All of the activities become compulsory. CMOs are left to determine only how much to allocate to each channel, not whether to…
Challenge #4: Promoting a Niche Product
Most cybersecurity products address a specific problem but do not tackle all cybersecurity threats that a company faces. Convincing decision makers to pay for a niche product that offers a specific solution isn’t easy. This means that market education has to be an integral part of the marketing strategy. But this takes a lot of time… and again, a lot of money.
Strategic partnerships that enable the niche vendor to expand their offerings and meet the broader range of their clients’ needs are also necessary. Such strategic partnerships will offer clients a comprehensive solution, defray marketing costs, and create a qualified lead referral source.
Challenge #5: Building a Solid Marketing Team
As mentioned in challenge #3, the requirement to do so many marketing activities in order to have a chance of success in lead gen means that no cybersecurity CMO can handle all the necessary marketing tasks on his/her own. A solid cybersecurity marketing team needs to be built. Finding the right candidates is frustrating, time consuming and guess what, expensive! Marketing for cybersecurity requires both marketing prowess and deep technical knowledge, or at the very least, an interest in the industry and a willingness to learn. Cybersecurity CMOs must make the job and the industry sound exciting to appeal to the best talent and be willing to pay. This requires talent in itself.
If you are a veteran cybersecurity vendor CMO, you can pat yourself on the back. This is not a job for the weak-hearted. You have the mother of all challenges to contend with, and there are no magic tricks or pink ponies waiting to make your job any easier.