A common theme in old episodes of the sci-fi series Star Trek was the discovery of enticingly attractive planets that ultimately concealed some kind of threat. Nowadays you don’t have to boldly go where no man has gone before in order to find such environments. For modern businesses, cyberspace is just as threatening as deep space.
In 2018, 62% of companies were subject to phishing and social engineering attacks and in the first half of last year data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records, to cite just two recent cyber threat statistics. And the situation appears to be getting worse as businesses go into lockdown to stop the spread of covid-19. To combat rising digital threats, worldwide cybersecurity spending is expected to top $133.7 billion by 2022.
In the UK, meanwhile, the security and resilience of telecoms networks is a strategic priority for the government. A ‘Statement of Strategic Priorities for telecommunications, the management of radio spectrum, and postal services’ published last year tasked the telecommunications regulator Ofcom to:
- Ensure appropriate risk understanding, ownership and mitigation by communications service and network providers.
- Lead a cyber penetration testing programme to undertake intelligence-led vulnerability penetration tests as an integral part of cyber security management.
- Strengthen engagement with providers and suppliers, including on sector-wide cyber security and supply chain arrangements.
The publication noted: “Next generation networks like 5G raise security risks as well as economic opportunities. …The Government may consider strengthening Ofcom’s statutory powers in relation to network security….”
Growing threat complexity
Is all the fuss warranted? Don’t doubt it. We live in a more connected world than ever, exposed to thousands of potential attack surfaces every day. And this threat environment is getting more complex as millions of Internet-of-Things sensors are added to our already packed digital landscape. This is a hacker’s paradise.
Cyber criminals can’t just steal your passwords, they can—if you are not careful—hack your physical security systems, reprogram your car or bring down your electric grid. Against this backdrop, it is hardly surprising that IT security vendors no longer talk about their products as being nice to have. Instead, security is seen as being a fundamental component of any digital activity.
If you’re a telecommunications sector business-to-business marketing expert, this represents an opportunity to sell security products and services. But it also presents something of a challenge. After all, your potential security customers will by now almost certainly already have IT defences in place. And they’re probably tired of hearing about having to keep those defences optimally configured and up to date.
Searching for inspiration
So how do you go about creating IT security campaigns that hit a nerve and help to drive sales? For inspiration, let’s look at the what the top cyber security companies on the planet are saying in 2020. Fortinet, for example, emphasises the need to have security that doesn’t interfere with the workforce.
Messages such as “exceptional user experience with industry-leading security” focus on business continuity: hackers won’t bring the network down, and defences won’t slow it either. The network giant Cisco follows a similar approach. “Security is a grind,” it says. “What’s the answer? Cisco is reimagining what’s possible with … a cybersecurity platform that simplifies your security.”
Both these companies effectively promise to take the hassle out of protecting your people. That’s a good message for you to adopt in your campaigns, particularly if you are selling managed services or outsourcing. Microsoft’s security offering, in contrast, emphasises the company’s strong technology leadership, promising that its artificial intelligence systems will help protect your business.
IT security marketing themes
In a rapidly evolving threat environment, it isn’t a bad idea to tout your technology competence, particularly if you can show how you are ahead of the competition in your ability to protect your customers. Another common security messaging theme, as used by IBM among others, highlights the importance of maintaining secure borders as enterprise customers move their workloads into the cloud.
Cloud migration is nothing new but concerns over security remain, making this a potentially rich seam for campaigns. If your customers are moving to the cloud, then you should be talking to them about security. The highly-regarded training company KnowBe4, meanwhile, illustrates the fact that security campaigns don’t just need to focus on hardware and software products.
With the human factor increasingly recognised as being a weak link in cyber security, selling training and awareness packages is a growing opportunity for the B2B channel. The IT service management company Splunk underscores another take on this theme.
Not just about hardware and software
The company does not provide security hardware or software platforms but instead offers powerful analytics for risk assessment and compliance. The key to both these approaches is they recognise that IT security is no longer just about firewalls or virtual private networks.
It’s about providing a full security wrap that goes from online defences through to end-user behaviour and advanced threat intelligence. And it’s about accompanying customers throughout their business lifecycles. Putting this all together, here’s a framework for how to succeed at B2B telco security marketing once markets emerge from the shadow of coronavirus:
- Accept that all your customers already have security. But they cannot afford to let their guard down.
- Offer ways to maintain or improve their security levels while improving the end-user experience. Security is vital, but it doesn’t have to be a hassle.
- Consider trends that might be taking your customers out of their security comfort zone. How will they secure their borders in the cloud, for instance? Or with the Internet of Things? Or with 5G networks such as that being rolled out by BT?
- Think beyond off-the-shelf IT security products and see how you can add value through offerings such as online training, outsourcing or managed services.
Once you’ve aligned your campaign themes to your product and services portfolio, you can get out there and sell. We can help you with all facets of campaign design, from data through to telemarketing. And one final word of advice: while security marketing may have been done over and again, it’s never too late to kick off another campaign. The hackers threatening your customers will never let up, so neither should you.