Those who work in the cybersecurity business know that they have to keep up to date on points of vulnerability in technology to maintain their edge. What the ones who successfully market their products also know is that they have to adapt to evolving customer expectations in the highly competitive B2B market.
What goes into successful cybersecurity marketing? The answer to that was offered by Ken Rutsky, author of Launching to Leading: How B2B Market Leaders Create Flashmobs, Marshal Parades, and Ignite Movements in a recent interview about the paradigm shift that has occurred in B2B messaging and positioning.
Placing the customer at the center
“Classic B2B marketing was built around the assumption,” he explained, that a focus on “features, functions, and benefit” was the key. However, three specific challenges in today’s marketplace render that approach obsolete:
- Information has become commodified. Whereas in the past, buyers relied on their providers for information, now an internet search instantly yields thousand, even hundreds of thousands of results. They also are prone to information overload.
- Buyers rather than sellers are in charge. As a result of that new access to information, buyers have grown much more independent of and possibly better informed than some B2B representatives. What that means is that they are effectively well on their way into their decision process before they’ve even made contact with your rep.
- Crowded markets: While specialized services like cybersecurity used to be a niche market with few alternatives, now businesses face many choices. It’s really hard to get noticed when you appear to be just another stalk of hay in an overwhelmingly large haystack.
All these factors add up a need to shift from the old paradigm of a seller-defined market to the new paradigm of the buyer-driven market. That calls for a strategy that moves the conversation away from the generic listing of features, functions, and benefits, to the personalized take on how it addresses the customer’s specific pain points.
It’s all about “how to make value conversations relate to the buyer -- not the seller,” he says. Rutsky sets out that strategy with the acronym AIM (pp. 33-34 of his book):
- Approach: From the bottom up to the top down.
- Innovation: From benefit to Viewpoint and Value.
- Mindset: That we must challenge and engage on the customer’s terms.
The way to do that, he says, is to construct “a well-articulated Viewpoint -- an opinion about that world that aligns our value and the customer’s reality, rather than shoehorning our reality and value in theirs.” The B2B marketing conversation has to be tailored to the buyer so that it is relevant to their own business goals and strategies.
The measure of successful marketing
Rutsky’s position that successful marketers are the ones that communicate a focus on their customers’ needs is consistent with the findings of the B2B Benchmarks 2019: Budgets, and Trends—North America . It found that 90 percent of the “most successful B2B content marketers” make that the center of their messaging. And 81 percent of them strive to deliver “the right content to the right audience(s) at optimal times.”
For 77 percent of them that extends to tailoring the content to the specific point at which the customer is in the buyer’s journey, according to the report. The same percentage uses personas for their marketing, in contrast to only 36 percent of marketers with the least success. The majority of the most successful marketers also made a point of using analytics tools, and 63 percent also opted for marketing automation systems.
Relevance and innovation
The key is staying relevant. The B2B vendors who prove “successful are the one who are thinking about how to help the buying team succeed in their ongoing battle,” Rutsky said. That raises a particular challenge for those in cybersecurity who need to be equipped to answer their customers’ questions and address their concerns of the moment.
Given the rapid pace of change, those concerns can change over the course of the year, or even over a few months, particularly when a high profile breach makes headlines. There is, however, an upside to the rapid pace of change. The buyer for cybersecurity, Rutsky explains, understands that the only way to keep up with security threats is by using innovation.
That creates an opportunity for the seller to address an audience that is receptive to the information he can offer about his company’s innovative solutions. For example, with the advance of IoT, businesses may find that they have information coming through multiple devices, and so cybersecurity marketers can offer relevant information about how their solutions address those rising concerns.
Offering assurance of security for the whole array of connected devices a business may rely on is one example of how cybersecurity companies can implement customer centricity and in responding to change with their own innovations. It’s all about keeping the customer at the center of the marketing message.
Ariella Brown is a Zylotech contributing writer.
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