Published on January 22nd, 2015
If you're a cyber security firm, you know there is no "cookie cutter" business model to which you market your services. In addition, cyber security marketing strategies that work well for attracting enterprise-level clients aren't as effective when you’re targeting small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
That's because each audience has very different needs, goals and priorities, so you need to tailor your marketing message to specifically address each type of client.
Typically a cyber company will be going after one market or the other. It is very rare that a cyber product or service suit both enterprise-level businesses and SMBs equally. The reality is that budget constraints exist for smaller companies that don't with larger ones. The first step in defining a target market is really knowing which high-level audience your product or service is going to serve, because the messages to the two different markets are going to be vastly different.
In order to determine which approach to take with your messaging, you need to first understand the players you'll be talking to at both enterprise and SMB levels.
The Importance of Buyer Personas
The term “buyer persona” is one that is used very often in the inbound marketing world, but really, buyer personas are a logical necessity for all marketing efforts - inbound or outbound.
In a nutshell, a buyer persona is a fictionalized representation of your ideal customer, and often companies will have multiple buyer personas to accommodate different job titles, service lines or other key differentiators.
As a cyber security firm, you can start by determining if you'll be talking to enterprise clients or SMBs, but you can (and should) go further by constructing personas for the individual people you will be speaking to within each kind of organization.
Understanding the needs of each persona, as well as the kind of language they use to talk about cyber security, can help you create marketing campaigns that are more likely to succeed. You need to refine your message to the individual level, depending on the person you're talking to, as they will be bringing unique perspectives and demands to the table.
And enterprise and SMB prospects have their own cast of characters...
Large enterprises typically have expansive workforces and highly-structured hierarchies. Therefore, it is important to know which person you need to speak to about cyber security, as well as understanding that person’s priorities.
The three personas you will likely encounter when marketing to enterprise-level clients include risk managers, chief information security officers (CISOs), and technical or IT stakeholders.
Risk Manager Persona
The risk manager is responsible for reducing the overall business risks faced by an enterprise, as well as ensuring compliance within the organization. The main challenges that risk managers face are difficulty in measuring the performance of their programs and assessing the risks they need to protect against. Risk managers have to consider more risks than just cyber security; and, depending on their background, they may not have a good understanding of cyber security risks.
Your Message to This Persona: Focus on your ability to supply data that can help with quantifying risks, justifying risk management spending, and tracking the performance of risk management programs.
The CISO or CSO of an organization focuses on managing IT and cyber risks. It is this person’s job to prevent IT security breaches. This may involve managing multiple security technologies and ensuring they all work together to reduce cyber risk. The CISO reports to the executives and the board, so it is important for a CISO to have access to data and dashboards that clearly communicate an accurate and accessible picture of their IT security posture to nontechnical stakeholders.
Your Message to This Persona: Focus on how your solutions can help them collect data on cyber security risk in their organization and translate it effectively to their nontechnical colleagues.
IT Stakeholder Persona
IT stakeholders include risk analysts and people working in IT and audit departments. They are cyber security experts and do the day-to-day work of neutralizing threats. They spend a lot of time responding to individual security events and often have trouble backing up to see the bigger picture.
Your Message to This Persona: Your job as a marketer is to convince these technical experts that the data you provide can help them communicate with their superiors, as well as helping them to stay safe in a constantly changing cyber security landscape.
By definition, SMBs have much smaller teams of people working to defend and reinforce their IT security. The CEO or CFO may be directly involved in cyber security, or you may find yourself working with a general head of IT. The challenges faced by SMB personas are quite different from those found in enterprises.
CEO or CFO Persona
The CEO or CFO of an SMB is highly focused on the budget. This person needs to invest not only in IT security or risk management, but in every aspect of the business. Therefore, cost is a key factor when addressing this persona.
Your Message to This Persona: Emphasize the potential costs of a data breach and the ROI of spending on IT security. Approach the discussion around cyber security in a similar fashion to financial investments. Cyber products and services should be positioned as a hedge against cyber risk. It is generally best to stay away from overly technical details.
Operations Leadership Persona
The job of the COO or director of operations of an SMB is to keep the business running, no matter what happens. COOs want to know that you can help them prevent breaches that will disrupt the business, but do not necessarily care about the technical details of the solution you have to offer.
Your Message to This Persona: Focus your messaging entirely on how your cyber security services tie directly to their goal of keeping operations running smoothly, at all times.
IT Leadership Persona
Managing IT for an SMB can be a challenging job. IT managers and directors spend a lot of time fixing problems as they arise and may lack specialist training in cyber security. They spend the majority of their time responding to tickets and user problems. IT managers may also be hungry for data that they can use to communicate with the organization’s nontechnical decision makers.
Your Message to This Persona: Explain how your solution can make their life easier, perhaps by putting in place systems that reduce the number of events they need to respond to on a daily basis.
You Need to Know Your Audience
While it may be tempting to create one-to-many marketing strategies for the sake of efficiency - or a desire to market your services as being everything to everyone - ultimately, you will undermine the potential power of your campaigns with such a broad audience.
A good rule of thumb here is that the more defined your audience is, the more likely it is a focused campaign will resonate and have the desired effect.
Without this kind of foundation in place, you run the risk creating muddled cyber security marketing strategies and campaigns; your messaging will continue to fall flat, and you won't see the results you want in the long run.