If you have any doubts about where the business opportunities are growing in the technology market, come on out to the annual RSA information security conference in San Francisco this week and you will see a vibrant, action-packed explosion of companies showing off the latest developments in cyber security. Bluetext is out here this week, and the buzz is tremendous. RSA had to expand into a whole additional wing of the downtown Moscone Center just to house all of the vendors who are participating this year, and every night of the week there are dozens of parties and receptions.
Of course, the abundance of RSA participation underscores the central challenge for marketing and communications executives at companies here: How to break through the clutter and reach target customers in the face of hundreds of competitors. The simple answer is there is no simple answer. We’ve been spending hours walking the floors, talking with editors at the major publications, and chatting with many of the folks here from a wide variety of companies. There seems to be a consistent theme to what we’re hearing.
Reporters and customers don’t want to hear about the technology, they want to learn about how you have helped customers solve their cyber security challenges. The fact is, at the business level they don’t necessarily understand the technology, but they do know that they need to make a business case for any solution they want to consider. For those of us in the marketing and communications arena, this isn’t surprising. Talking about the market challenges and how a company has helped its customers is always a more compelling approach than describing the underlying technology, no matter how new and cool it might seem.
What we’re also hearing is that editors and customers want to know how that solution fits into the larger market trends that they are focused on, ranging from the move to the cloud to the aftermath of the Target security debacle from last year. They need to understand how they can meet their own market requirements and how they can avoid being the net poster-child for security breaches.
One of the hottest topics this year is around security automation; the ability to take measures across an organization’s network in near real-time to thwart attacks. It currently takes hours or longer to detect security events, and can takes weeks and months to resolve the attack. With automation, that can be handled in minutes. It also allows resources to be better allocated because they no longer have to respond manually to every threat. Bluetext’s client CSG Invotas is getting a huge amount of interest in its automation technology, but it’s clear that other competitors are using similar messaging—whether or not they can deliver on that promise.
And that offers the second lesson from RSA: Messaging needs to be both similar to the market space but differentiated from competitors. That might sound like a contradiction, and it’s no easy task. But the point is that if there a market trend that you are addressing, that must be made clear. Yet at the same time, how your solution is different from everyone else’s and why it is the best solution also needs to be part of that message.
Clear, concise and compelling messages, and telling your story through the customer’s eyes. Those are the two main marketing messages we’re getting from RSA.