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Security Marketing is About Trust, Not Fear Robert Mohns

Written on: March 7th, 2016 in marketing, security

Marketing in the cybersecurity sector has a tough challenge: The security so often centers on fear, uncertainty and doubt. Am I safe? How do we keep the hackers out? Will my career here survive a breach?

It’s easy to sell FUD. Your SSL certificate isn’t secure! Don’t let your VPN get hacked! Insiders account for most intrusions!

But that’s not the only way, and it isn’t even the best way.

Over the years I’ve been privileged to work with some truly great marketers and sales people in the security sector. They’ve focused not on instilling fear, but on building trust.

How do you establish trust?

To gain trust, you have to show you are worth it. The quickest way to do that is to give your trust.

In the world of digital marketing, this means:

  • Share freely. Give away useful information that helps people with their problems. Show your wealth of knowledge by gifting it to others. They’ll come back for your expertise when they need it.
  • Ask for feedback. Legendary New York City mayor Ed Koch was known for asking everyone he met the same question: “How’m I doin’?” And he cared about the answer. Is it any wonder he twice won re-election by landslides?
  • Let others learn from your failures. No, really! When you share your lessons about what didn’t work so well, you increase your credibility because you’ve learned from experience.
  • Respect your visitors. They have their own needs; don’t let yours overwhelm them. Don’t use pushy pop-ups on your site in the name of “lead gen,” and don’t bombard people with email in the guise of “nurturing.” Provide quality content, and target it at people who’ve expressed interest in specific topics.
  • Be transparent. If you do ask for personally identifying information (I’m looking at you, “white paper registration” pages!), be very clear about why you are asking for it, and what you will do with it.

Trust in Security Marketing

“But,” I hear you saying, “that goes for any B2B marketer!” You’re right. Here are a few things I’ve seen work well for our security clients over the years:

  • Focus on what you enable. Mimecast’s Business Continuity solution enables companies to maintain email access even if their email servers go down. (How cool is that?) And their content focuses on what you’ll get, not what you might risk.
  • Give your customers tools to be team players. Rapid7’s Security Advisory Program, for example, focuses on how you can align your executive team and measure your security situation in ways everyone can understand.
  • Play well with others. SSH’s Privileged Access Control focuses on how you can work securely with third-party business partners and service providers.
  • Educate everybody. Tomorrow’s customers are just learning today; by educating everyone you invest in your own future. Mimecast helps non-specialists keep up with security topics away by giving away concise, informative analyst reports such as “The Five Faces of IT Preparedness.” And RSAConference takes this to the extreme, with a deeply informative blog that is just as important as their huge conferences around the world.
  • Own any security issues that arise. Nobody likes to admit there was a problem, but it’s better to get out in front of it than to be the next Target or Home Depot. We take our own advice: When the Heartbleed vulnerability was discovered, we blogged publicly about how we responded, and followed up with a helpful article on good password managers. And then it happened again with POODLE. (Who names these things?)

Trust must be part of your brand

Trust-building is a brand-level activity. It must go all the way through your communications, from the information you choose to share to the way you write copy, from visual design choices to calls-to-action, and even to your own emails and phone calls.

The hardest part about adopting trust-based marketing is that, by definition, it makes you a little vulnerable! Letting others see your challenges and occasional failures, and giving away your hard-won knowledge, can be pretty unsettling. But it’s in your interest, and it pays back in loyal customers, repeat business and referrals. Enlightened self-interest is a powerful tool.

 Need help creating a digital marketing strategy that builds trust? Let's talk!

Bonus! Security Content!

Imarc engineer Kevin Hamer gives a great layperson’s introduction to website security in How Sites Get Hacked. Enjoy!

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