Information Security Marketing: Planning Your Marketing Communications
In our first post in this series, Information Security Solutions: Construction of a Marketing Content Strategy, we defined marketing content strategy and discussed its importance as the blueprint for your successful B2B marketing communications. In this post, we put our hardhats back on to build the steps in planning an information security marketing communications project.
Step 1: Define Your Audience
If you were leading a building project, you would first need to know your client. You’d no more propose a large corporation operate out of a cozy main street shopfront than you would a mom and pop store occupy a city center high rise. Carefully defining the audience and how to present information to address their needs is the first, and probably most important, step in developing effective communication.
Various types of professionals evaluate and purchase information security solutions. In larger organizations, the audience tends to be more specialized, whereas medium and smaller businesses tend to be comprised of more general audiences. A Fortune 500 company will likely have full-time, dedicated information security specialists; smaller organizations are more likely to have IT generalists who incorporate security into their daily duties as network engineers, system administrators, or database administrators. A generalist audience is less likely to possess in-depth knowledge of the security industry than a specialist audience.
Once you define your primary audience, try to answer these questions from their perspective:
- What specific threat/threat actor, vulnerability, or risk does this solution help me guard against?
- What are the most important security measures to minimize or eliminate the threat, vulnerability, or risk, and what must a solution provide to achieve this?
- What type of information would motivate me to learn more about this security solution – say, read a couple of blog posts, or have a conversation with someone?
- Why wouldn’t I purchase this security solution?
- What’s my current knowledge of the threat, vulnerability, or risk, and what do I need to know about the solution to be confident it will minimize or eliminate the problem (e.g., terminology, technology, regulatory requirements, etc.)?
These questions provide insight into how to address the points so they are relevant and compelling to your audience.
Step 2: Define the Purpose
Next, carefully define the single purpose of each piece of communication, and then make every decision based on how best to achieve its purpose. Going back to our construction analogy, if you know the purpose of your building is to house goods for distribution, the decisions you will make about its design, size, location, and accessibility will become clear.
For your communications piece, if the primary purpose is to inform about, say, a new threat or vulnerability, then provide timely and relevant information on the topic in a single piece of collateral. This saves the audience from additional time required to locate more information, which can be frustrating. Of particular value to any audience are options for a hotfix or stopgap measure to protect themselves until a more permanent solution can be implemented. Complete background on the problem with actionable advice on remediation, even if temporary, increases the collateral’s value.
Step 3: Choose the Format (i.e., Medium)
In construction, the choice of medium is dictated by the building’s future occupants – its “audience” – and its purpose. If the purpose of the structure is to provide temporary shelter to festival-goers, then a large tent pavilion would be appropriate. Likewise the best method (format or medium) to deliver your information security marketing message depends on the audience and purpose of the collateral. Examples include:
- Company blog: Many information security companies maintain widely read blogs, in which they cover everything from threat activity reports to new research findings.
- Multimedia video: Online media increases the useful lifespan of videos beyond their initial purpose offline.
- White paper: A white paper that cites third-party sources provides information security professionals the in-depth content they seek.
Step 4: Identify the Optimal Style
Ensure your style fits the medium. In our analogy, a log cabin would be more suitable for a mountain retreat than a corporate headquarters. Similarly, email and blog posts should be casual, whereas white papers and case studies should be more professional. We’ve written a popular series of blog posts on the many aspects of style, which are applicable to information security marketing:
- Marketing Communications Tone: Is Your Marketing Collateral Tone Deaf?
- Marketing Communications Word Choice and Voice: Your Corporate Persona’s Inner Khakis or Suit
- Marketing Communications Style: Know Your Audience…and Your Company
- Marketing Communications Style Guide: A Dress Code with Style
Now that you’ve planned your information security marketing communications project, check back next week for our top guidelines for developing great content – the brick and mortar of your successful B2B marketing communications for information security solutions.
What approaches have you used to define your target audience and tailor content to them? What do you view as the primary purposes of your collateral? What format (media) have you found most effective for various audiences? We welcome your comments and thoughts.
For over 20 years, Hoffman Marketing Communications has created white papers, product launch materials, and more recently multimedia, for information security companies. Visit us here to learn more about how we can help you build successful marketing communications.