Yesterday marked the beginning of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). While it’s the threat hunters and engineers who are the public image of most security companies, behind the scenes there’s a marketer who has created a compelling message that resonates with the customer and connects engagement to demand.
One such marketer is CrowdStrike’s Grace Bergen. We had the pleasure of talking to Bergen about her career in security marketing, how it’s changed, and how she creates effective messages and connections with customers and prospects.
Read on to learn more about her career and her insights on working in marketing and the security industry.
Modern Marketing Today (MMT): How has cybersecurity marketing changed since you’ve been working in the field?
Grace Bergen (GB): I think security marketing has really come to a place where it’s no longer about promoting awareness for the need of our products. If you look at the threat landscape and the many cyber attacks organizations face every day, it’s not necessary to prove that you need security. Where you can differentiate your organization is in marketing the right types of cybersecurity that are needed in an environment. There’s no one size fits all solution and we market from small companies to large, Fortune 500, companies to small towns and complex governmental organizations. Customers need the right attention and solution specific to their organization, their needs, and their challenges. It’s important to shift from why you need cybersecurity to why you need the right cybersecurity.
MMT: How has 2020 changed your strategy and tactics?
GB: From a messaging standpoint, we have always tried to avoid FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) or ambulance chasing. But since the pandemic started, we’ve become even more cautious in our messaging since we know there’s not only a pandemic, but an increased cybersecurity threat as adversaries take advantage of people’s circumstances. There’s always a balance to be found between looking to be helpful and looking too eager to take advantage of a circumstance.
As far as the big gap we were left with when tradeshows and in person events came to a halt, we came together as a marketing organization to figure out what our new strategies were to reach people in places we weren’t as normally comfortable with – mailing them to their home address or an increased number of webinars.
Instead of each individual contributor coming up with a new plan, we were able to put together working groups and divide and conquer – who’s in charge of our new digital strategy, our webinar outreach, interactive virtual programs, etc. By putting a top down message together with each group, each marketer could then make those smaller adjustments need for their region and they had a template to work from rather than starting from scratch.
We scrambled quite a bit at the beginning to test out tactics, you have to try to everything once before you can figure out what really works. What we found is even with all these companies going on-line and a lot more noise, people were still showing up – not in as great of numbers – but ready to listen and engage, more so than past virtual events. The quality of participant increased, even though the overall quantity of attendees decreased.
Overall, it’s about meeting customers when and where they need us to be. If they want to hop online for a 15 minute demo and then jump into a comedy show, we’ll be there; if they want a 60 minute technical demo, we’ll be there; and if they want a one page whitepaper or twenty page eBook, we’ve got that for them too. We were able to scale up pretty quickly with these groups while keeping the quality we’re used to outputting.
MMT: How do you cut through all the noise in the cybersecurity space to connect with customers and prospects?
GB: I think cutting the fluff is important in cutting through the noise – present facts and people can decide for themselves. It’s so important to represent a product you can actually be proud of marketing. One thing I’ve always loved about working at CrowdStrike is meeting our customers at tradeshows because the real-time feedback is always very positive. Their energy and positivity towards CrowdStrike is fun to watch – never knew cybersecurity companies could have fans – and it makes me feel good to know our products are making a difference.
We try to let our customer stories do much of the ‘cutting’ and transform those stories through webinars, case studies, whitepapers. This way, people can hear it for themselves, I know it holds more weight than to hear from a company representative talk about their own product.
MMT: What role does content marketing play in connecting with customers and prospects?
GB: Content marketing is extremely important! Again, not trying to downplay myself or other marketers, but if we were to create pieces that were just data sheets and product information, we wouldn’t be very successful.
Customers need to receive information in a way that still addresses problems and solutions, but that is packaged in a way that is more interesting than a list of 100 features. Our public sector marketing team has grown rapidly over the last few years and we’ve seen our brand awareness increase by 119 percent in the last year. I firmly believe that this increase came from the extra emphasis we placed on content marketing in recent times.
MMT: Any final thoughts?
GB: The last 6 months have been challenging in so many aspects of life. From a marketing perspective, it’s been great seeing internal and external marketing groups collaborate as we all share ideas on how to market in the new normal. I’ve appreciated the many spaces that vendors have given to us to collaborate with each other – I’m connecting with more marketers today than ever! Having the avenue of physical events taken away caused a major pivot but I’ve really enjoyed the creativity and challenge it’s forced on us as we’ve come up with new ways to market, together.