How and when should you use “threat” as part of your cyber security marketing strategy?

Cyber Security Marketing
Angela Greaves

When considering the best approach to your cyber security marketing strategy one of the questions that almost always needs to be evaluated is “if” and “how much” you should play on the element of threat. Is feeding your audience with fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD), the best way of communicating your message and getting prospects to buy your cyber security solution? What is the right balance to strike in communicating when we are all receiving information on cyber security threats in the media on a regular basis and it is becoming familiar territory?

With everyone affected by mobile and email scams, and with all the media coverage of major data breaches, cyber security has become part of everyone’s experience. There is no argument that keeping customers and potential customers well informed about potential risks and the need to protect themselves and their businesses should be part of every cyber security firm’s communications strategy. This is an important part of the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey.

We see an abundance of communications from cyber security companies on social media highlighting the latest breaches and potential threats, alongside the national media who are also quick to pick up on cyber security stories. Which begs the question, have we become too familiar with the issues surrounding cyber security? And, how can you cut through this mass of information, especially in such a crowded market?

With familiarity, also comes de-sensitisation. We are used to seeing images of cloaked and hooded figures, reminiscent of the Grim Reaper or Emperor Palpatine (the true villain of the saga). We’ve seen them far too often, to the extent that these icons for something “dark” or “threatening” have become cliches. In addition, they do not convey any details of what the challenge or threat actually is, what is on offer, or how it might solve a particular security problem, which is essential at the research stage of the buyer journey. 

With the plethora of cyber security issues and solutions out there to match, cyber security companies need to assess different approaches to their cyber security marketing strategy and content, which are based on their own offering, market, customer personas and the place that the customer is on their purchasing journey.

Getting your cyber security message across

In general, IT security people are aware of the issues and challenges that they face in terms of cyber security. It’s their business to keep up with all the latest threats, and the tactics of cyber criminals. Security specialists need the right information and will be seeking it out at the research stage of their journey. They need technical information that will help them select the right products and answer their needs.

The IT manager for a smaller company, for example, looking after all the IT functions, will no doubt be aware of many of the security threats and the need for a solution, but probably be very hard-pushed to keep up to date with everything. Again, they are looking for factual information that will help them to make their decision. Regurgitating well-known threats and industry stats, which the technical audience is probably already familiar with, needs to be handled with care.

The real challenge, especially at the consideration and decision stage, is getting the message across to business as a whole. Once the IT Security or IT Manager have identified the problem and potential solutions, they then need help in convincing their business colleagues, not only making them aware of the threats, but also showing some of the other benefits that addressing security issues might bring – such as through business efficiencies, facilitating new ways of working, making life easier for employees and reducing cost. A rounded approach is called for. It’s not just about preventing and detecting threats, but also how that affects the business. This is also acknowledged by the UK National Cyber Security Centre in their board toolkit which helps technical staff explain why board members should care about cyber security.

Moving away from the cyber security threat to business value

Moving away from FUD to informing and marketing the business benefits of cyber security solutions, here are some ideas to consider in your cyber security marketing strategy and messaging to the broader business audience:

  • Can you position the cyber security threats as challenges?
  • Consider the business benefits of your cyber security solution. Will the solution help save money by protecting the organisation, for example, or have an impact on employee productivity?
  • Do senior management fully understand the risk that exists to their organisation? It does not matter who you are, the risk is there. When talking to the management audience, consider “exposure” rather than “threat”.
  • Can you focus on safety and security, rather than threat and risk? Providing a cocoon of trust and supporting employees. With stress levels among staff rising especially through the challenges of working from home during the pandemic, for example, staff are potentially at greater risk to cybercrime. The criminals are getting smarter, the risks look more realistic, or are more well thought out.
  • Focus on facts rather than suggestive threat. Explain with case studies – how other companies have addressed the issues and positive results.
  • The hacker persona, that we mentioned at the beginning and other imagery – is it getting your message across? Can you make it more real rather than a fictional character? Or, give it character that makes it real and engages the business audience?

In conclusion, when considering your cyber security marketing strategy, there are some key steps and considerations to make:

  • In a crowded cyber security market, when everyone is playing on the threats, it is crucial to differentiate your solution and demonstrate its unique selling points and benefits. 
  • The specific features and benefits of your solution need to be mapped to the persona and tone of voice of your visuals and messaging.
  • Make sure you have the right content for each stage of the buyer’s journey and different personas involved.
  • Getting the right balance in your cyber security messaging will depend on the area of security you are involved in – whether you are a vendor, channel partner, security consultant, or if cyber security is only just part of what you have to offer.
  • Demonstrate the unique value of your cyber security solution and business benefits, and provide potential customers with valuable information at every stage of their journey, to secure trust in your solution and bring sales opportunities.

Motion Marketing has in-depth experience as a cyber security marketing agency, working with cyber security vendors and services companies, including Accelerate Technologies, SecurEnvoy and School of Phish, to ensure that their branding, communications, and content is getting the right message across to both technical and business audiences.

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