If you feel like there are more IT security vendors out there to compete with than ever, you’re not wrong. Today there are more than 1,200 point solutions alone, an explosion compared to their number from less than ten years ago. The obstacle this presents is compounded by the fact that IT security professionals today are in higher demand and shorter supply, and the related fact that a lot of your potential customers likely won’t know enough about IT security to appreciate why they even need the solutions you offer.
All these factors outline in concrete terms why it is more important than ever to identify and emphasize what puts you ahead of the pack. Considering both the current threat and IT security industry landscapes, here are some of the major marketing challenges you are likely to face, and some suggestions for how to address them:
Marketing challenge #1: Setting yourself apart
As stated earlier, as an IT security company, you have more competitors to outmaneuver than at any other time in the industry, and therefore more consumer fatigue to overcome. The major advantage you have is that most of these are just shades of more-or-less the same increasingly obsolete point solution. As a reseller for Overwatch private-label or co-branded solutions, you are able to provide end-users with a forward-looking, proactive alternative to your rank-and-file security vendor.
However, be conscious that this alone doesn’t sell the product. It is still up to you to guide your audience so they appreciate the truly substantive differences that make your product unique, especially if it is hybridized with your proprietary services. Completing that conversion journey can be accomplished in a few ways.
- Target your efforts on providing services to certain industries, especially those that are underserved. Specializing is almost always a dependable tactic, as it can help establish you as the go-to brand for a whole swath of enterprise businesses. Overwatch’s Security Platform-as-a-Service and Security Operations Center-as-a-Service both allow your end-users to set network collection, monitoring, and detection to conform to industry-specific compliance requirements. This ideally positions you to get the attention of enterprise businesses in industries with regulatory regimes that your competitors simply aren’t suited to serve. This is just one example of how to make inroads with specialized industries, though. Another approach is to establish yourself as a thought and knowledge leader for the industry’s needs by developing content, such as blog posts and whitepapers, that speaks directly to their unique concerns (more on that below).
- Specialize in one type of IT security solution. Sound IT security strategies require a holistic outlook, and most vendors are not in a position to cover all the bases that this entails. If you are able to achieve and demonstrate expertise in one or more IT security sub-disciplines, you will be able to capitalize on underserved customers. Overwatch’s Security Platform-as-a-Service perfectly disposes you to develop specialized expertise, as it ships with top-tier IT security services that cover the broad strokes, ready for you to turn around and market. This frees up your bandwidth to refine your brand and channel it into an area of specialization without neglecting the rest of the IT security picture.
- Showcase metrics that illustrate the efficacy and efficiency of your solutions and keep them front-and-center in your online presence. Just because you may not specialize in a certain industry or IT security sub-discipline doesn’t mean that your product can’t still perform well in that context. Publish case studies that demonstrate in qualitative and quantitative terms how your products address every area your customers might be concerned with. By showing results and sharing testimonials, potential customers can readily see the value of your services from a real-world application.
Marketing challenge #2: Finding your audience
Selling a great product accomplishes little good if you aren’t engaging the potential customers who benefit most from buying it. With the high demand for robust IT security solutions and the prevalence of less-than-technically literate consumers, it can be a struggle to reach that audience, let alone find it. This is where knowing which audiences prefer which marketing and media channels come into play, and can mean the difference between engaging with an untapped audience and hammering a fatigued one.
- Build a rich social media presence and keep content and audience interaction steadily flowing. Don’t just register matching accounts and leave a minimal footprint, but make sure every platform you operate on is an extension of your brand voice and a conduit for bilateral communication between you and your audience. By going beyond announcing products and promotions, to prominently featuring organic brand narratives and informative content for the entire IT security space, you can establish and foster real relationships. The more you interact, the more people across the industry will feel familiar with your brand and company values and weigh your offerings more carefully when the need for a new solution arises.
- Use industry-specific marketing funnels to reach more niche audiences in more natural ways. Especially if your products are tailored to the compliance or security needs of particular industries, find out what professionals in those industries use to communicate and ensure that you have a presence there. It may take some digging, but once you find these marketing funnels, your company will enjoy a reach that competitors with footprints only on major social networks will not. And, of course, once you find industry-specific platforms, make sure your messaging is styled differently (though still with your brand voice at the core) for each one.
Marketing challenge #3: Becoming a thought leader
Becoming a thought leader means contributing value to your field, in the form of actionable information, that creates an association of knowledgeability and reliability with your brand among professionals in that field. In essence, it is about building trust in you beyond your customer base, but with every professional and business that constitutes your industry. By establishing thought leadership, you offer up your brand as a resource not only because of the services you market but also because of the information you provide.
While this is the most enduring form of credibility you can build for your company, it is also the most time-consuming. You can’t take shortcuts to thought leadership, and you definitely can’t fake it–it’s another manifestation of trust, and trust has to be earned. You can’t get there overnight, but you can take steps to start your brand down the path to thought leadership. Here are a couple of good habits to get into with that in mind:
- Perform and publish your own study. Collecting, analyzing and sharing your own data is the most direct path to becoming a thought leader because it not only proves your commitment to the advancement of IT security as a whole but your commitment to following the data and pursuing evidence-based answers to security problems. This might not seem like much, but there are enough snake oil salespeople among IT security vendors that it really goes a long way toward distinguishing yourself as a serious player in the industry. Perform a study on a topic that potential clients would find useful, and then publish the results in a downloadable report or as a blog post, so that IT security professionals can benefit from and reference your work. One widely cited whitepaper can instantly put you on the map because good work always speaks for itself.
- Create a blog and keep it current. Your blog can be the centerpiece in your thought leadership strategy, as long as you keep content fresh and actionable to a wide audience. Your main consideration in a thought leadership-minded blog should be publishing content that is truly useful and helpful, not just promoting your products. If your content is truly edifying to the industry at large, the attention to your product line will naturally follow.
- Answer questions whenever you can, and wherever you have a brand presence. Become active on sites where professionals in your field ask them, such as Stack Exchange, Quora, LinkedIn, and even Reddit. These sites can give you a boost in brand presence beyond your site, blog, and social media accounts that are not only organic but helpful to IT security queries.
Our success is built on your success. For more tips on marketing your IT security product, or requests for engineering new solutions to meet your customers’ needs, Contact High Wire Networks.