For any company, the single key element of success besides efficacy, cost and accessibility is brand storying.
The objective of brand storying is the same one found in building a relationship with new acquaintances.
It is not about becoming besties overnight or securing the sale immediately. Rather, it’s about building a meaningful relationship with those individuals through many light interactions over time. Unique experiences and interactions founded on human understanding and empathy are how you build trust.
It’s how you turn acquaintances into friends, and it’s how modern brands build emotional relationships with their consumers.
Building an Emotional Bond
In the cybersecurity markets in particular, where we now have over 4,000 vendors competing for attention through a wall of noise that’s 50 feet thick and 100 feet tall, building emotional relationships with prospects is not just challenging, it is death defiantly difficult.
Because 5 years ago, every player in the space had only to differentiate against a small handful of competitors. Today, everyone has 25 competitors. Only a few are legitimate, but the market doesn’t know that. Everyone has magic beans that will take a CISO to the promised land of Zero Trust. It takes deep digging to discover the pretenders. That is why CISOs, in addition to other perky personality traits, are deeply cynical people.
It is very hard to persuade deeply cynical people to take a few more minutes to explore a product or service offering. Imagine trying to convince Bill Maher that there is an afterlife.
There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.
The only way to become unique in today’s competitive landscape is through a strategy that builds your brand into a living, breathing entity – one with personality, values and traits, in addition to being recognizable and memorable.
Play the Long Game
Brand building is a long-term process. If you think that loyalty and brand affinity can be built quickly, what you are actually doing is executing sales promotion tactics.
In a spastic, fragmented salad of random words that mirror the messaging of your closest 25 competitors.
Because you are likely to be focused too narrowly on clicks, views, downloads, likes and on total lead volume.
Because that is the status quo in cybersecurity marketing, and because everyone does it that way. Oddly, you cannot be fired for being the consummate, data driven, metric obsessed marketer, but you CAN be fired for lack of revenue impact or poor lead quality. Lead Quality?
Marketing Metric Mavens
Since folks are such great metrics mavens, I’m sure there are hundreds in my audience who can tell me exactly how many sales qualified leads flow out of their double download content syndication lead generation campaign as a percentage of those MQLs.
And what will Sales report on that same metric? How much ROI is marketing generating on their campaigns? Measured by actual sales? Measured by actual revenue?
When there are 25 vendors in SASE, the latest 650group research report on the Top Three Benefits of SASE, is not moving anyone’s needle.
Can You Hear Me Now? Good.
When cybersecurity marketers think about branding, they should consider the admonition of one of their best, Sherry Lowe, the CMO at Exabeam who has said that, “The shift to digital and online in recent years has completely overhauled the marketing approach, leaving marketers under tremendous pressure to execute on ideas quickly and prove value through clicks, views and downloads.”
She went on to explain that from her view, “Automation and creativity are not mutually exclusive. Automation should free marketers to dream big. And in today’s social and political climate, appealing to emotion is more important than ever. Consumers today are overwhelmed by a flood of content daily, from ads, social and marketing messages to emotionally charged news events and media content. Marketing tactics that grab those emotions will stand out – and that requires creativity and the human touch.”
Betcha Can’t Eat Just One
To succeed, marketers need to build inspiring stories and deliver compelling experiences to match. If your product is in the CMMC space, resist the urge to story based on the differences between CMMC and NIST 800-171.
Instead tell a story. About that day in 2017, back when you were a network engineer and you discovered that vulnerability in a network switch as you were conducting a normal network scan and it got you to thinking about another way to approach the whole vulnerability detection business and how, now, four years and exactly 100 customers later, you have extended that capability to the last point of presence.
And while you are at it, force yourself to focus less on personalized messaging and more on truly understanding personal patterns and context. CISOs have factually no time – as in zero – to ‘explore’ your value proposition, regardless of how many hundreds of personalized messages you send them. Your value statements are important to you, but no one else cares. Because no one else has time to care.
What a CISO does have time for is an interesting story, especially one with which s/he can relate.
Your product needs to become a living thing, a life-form that wants to connect with other life-forms, so that your prospects can learn about its history, inspiration and craftsmanship, its point of view, humor and quirks. The path is of course through you and that path begins with your messaging so your prospects can anthropomorphize the brand experience onto your products.
Don’t believe that’s possible?
Things Go Better With Coke
I’m going to give away a free one here, but one innovative augmented reality campaign by Coca-Cola enabled folks to point their phone’s camera at a can of Coke and see one of 12 stories come to life. The stories each feature a minor conflict, where animated characters engage in a lighthearted exchange before finding a positive outcome which revolves around sharing a Coke.
One story shows a couple of kids getting their beach ball deflated by a beach umbrella, while another shows a young couple at a movie getting scared and dropping their popcorn. Another features two rival football fans who join each other in a friendly game when a football flies out of the can of Coke.
It shouldn’t take you long to reengineer that for your XDR, SOAR, SASE, SD-WAN, SIEM, DLP campaign.
Just point your phone’s camera at a server, a mouse, a keyboard, a modem, router, network switch, etc. and well, you can handle the rest.
Now, imagine going up against your top 3 competitors with that brand story. Wow.
Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There
An Inescapable Earworm
Ultimately brands must become masters in the language of seduction. They must understand that creating desire and/or intrigue is the single key element for measuring success. Your brand story must become the equivalent of an earworm, the best ones are those that remain with your prospects before and after they deliver that P.O.
Don’t Stop Believin.