June 22, 2022

10 Cyber Marketing Commandments with Jennifer VanAntwerp

by Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing

Show Notes

We invite Jennifer VanAntwerp, Principal at JVAN Consulting, to talk about taking the challenge of cybersecurity marketing by the horns. Her secret weapon? Kindness. Jen shares stories with us about her marketing journey to becoming a consultant, explains her development of the 10 Commandments of Kindness for Cybersecurity Marketers, and reminds us why communities like the Cybersecurity Marketing Society are so important for marketers and for the cybersecurity industry as a whole.


Timecoded Guide:

[02:12] Explaining Jen’s background in automotive marketing and healthcare, as well as connecting those industries to her newer roles in cybersecurity 

[08:36] Breaking down Jen’s 10 Commandments of Kindness for Cybersecurity Marketers and revealing which commandments feel most important for the industry currently

[18:34] Taking the challenge to develop handouts and merchandise beyond cheap plastic pens and unoriginal assets that don’t leave an impact on your audience

[23:40] Avoiding falling into the marketing trap of FUD: fear, uncertainty, and doubt, which is especially common in the cybersecurity industry

[32:08] Wrapping up Jen’s commandments with reading the room, avoiding common lies in marketing, and connecting better with our cyber community


You’ve worked in the automotive industry and in healthcare, what have you seen from those two industries be applicable in cyber?

Jennifer VanAntwerp has a very impressive marketing resume, including work in the automotive industry and the urgent care side of the healthcare industry. We were curious about differences, especially with Jen being relatively new to the cyber marketing world. The biggest difference, which we’ve actually discussed previously on the podcast, is the skepticism of the cybersecurity audience. Cyber professionals are already worried about the online threats we see emerge every day, but they're also skeptical, sometimes, of the tactics marketers use and the buzzword-y, almost meaningless language we can fall victim to. 

“There's always a new element or facet of cybersecurity that you can go into, but I would say the biggest difference between cybersecurity and the two other industries that I worked in, is the audience. Our audience is very, very skeptical. We've almost trained them to be.”


What do you think are the pros and cons of being a generalist in marketing?

With Jen having experience outside of the industry, she considers herself more of a generalist in her cybersecurity marketing tactics. She’s entirely willing to admit that she’s not the most technical marketer of the bunch. Although this presents a well-rounded mindset for the companies she consults with, she acknowledges that there may need to be an extra set of hands to do some technical explaining or a lot of extra time to do her research. There’s always something new to learn in cyber marketing, but it’s important to point out that it can be overwhelming, which is one of the reasons Jen developed her 10 commandments.

“It's a blessing and a curse. It's a good thing, because I can see the big picture, do a lot of the strategy elements, and understand what levers to pull, but with some of the levers, I might need a specialist to assist in that regard.”


Can you tell us about which of your 10 Cyber Marketing Commandments are the most important and why?

With these 10 marketing commandments, Jen shares all the basics of not only being a good marketer, but also being a good human in the cybersecurity industry. One of the most important commandments is the first of the 10, which is to respect your audience’s time. Everyone is busy, with a lot on their plate, and not acknowledging that in your marketing tactics not only can annoy your audience, but it can be a waste of time for you, as well. If your audience doesn’t have the time for your current strategy, you won’t get through to them.

“That's one of the things I love about the Cybersecurity Marketing Society, is that it is a way for us to share ideas and do that coopetition thing. Even though we might be competitors, we can still share ideas within the space, but I feel like it's a good chance for us to have constant reminders of what not to do.” 


What is so special about commandment 10: give back to the community? 

Although all 10 commandments offer lessons to be learned for our fellow cybersecurity marketers, commandment 10 emphasizes community and the importance of giving back. This can be traced all the way back to Jen’s mother, a passionate volunteer always lending help to her community. She’s been incredibly influential on Jen’s opinion of community, and the Cybersecurity Marketing Society has given Jen one of many opportunities to give back. From volunteering to donating, mentoring to offering someone a shoulder to cry on, your community needs your help, and the 10th cyber marketing commandment says just that.

“I ended it with that one, because I feel like that's the one that's going to keep going on forever. It's like commandment number 10 lives on for the rest of time, because those little acts of service within your community, they spread tenfold.”



Spend some time with our guest Jennifer VanAntwerp on LinkedIn

Read Jen’s original 10 Commandments of Kindness for Cybersecurity Marketers.

Follow Gianna on LinkedIn.

Catch up with Maria on LinkedIn.

Join the Cybersecurity Marketing Society on our website, and keep up with us on Twitter.

Keep up with Hacker Valley on our website, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter



Gianna 00:00
Welcome to the Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing Podcast.
Maria 00:04
Where we explore the hottest topics in cyber marketing.
Gianna 00:07
Interview experts.
Maria 00:08
And help you become a better cybersecurity marketer.
Maria 00:20
Hello, and welcome to another episode of Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing. I am your cohost Maria and with me is Gianna Whitver. And today, we're having an amazing, amazing guest, friend, I don't know, mentor, the kindest person in cybersecurity marketing.
Jennifer 00:46
The rest is all going to be downhill, that is way too big of an intro. I cannot live up to that, Maria.
Maria 00:52
Oh, my goodness. So, our guest today is Jennifer VanAntwerp. She is a marketing leader. She's a principal at JVAN Consulting and working on some exciting projects with cybersecurity vendors, one of which is Sin Sabre, and we can't wait to get into branding and kindness and all kinds of really interesting angles at taking the cybersecurity marketing challenge by the horns. So, Jennifer, thanks for being with us today. We'll give it to you for a quick intro. Tell us about yourself.
Jennifer 01:27
Well, thank you so much for having me. I've been listening since you guys first kicked it off, and I'm so excited to be able to participate and just to hang out with two of my buddies. Like Maria mentioned, I'm the principal at JVAN consulting, I do marketing consultation, and hands-on strategy and everything that you might need for cybersecurity startups. I've also done some consulting for folks in healthcare and health tech in the past. And I first started my baby marketing career back in automotive. So, I've worked across a few different industries and I think that helps me to have a unique perspective when it comes to attacking different problems and reaching different customers.
Maria 02:12
Perfect segue. Yeah. So, Jen, that's actually the perfect segue into how we want to start this
conversation. So, you mentioned the automotive industry, you've also been in healthcare as well, what have you seen from those two industries be applicable in cyber?
Jennifer 02:52
Oh, that's a very good question. It's honestly a little bit easier to start with the thing that is the most different because I feel like, across all the different industries, there are some very foundational elements, when it comes to trying to make sure that you're speaking about the value for your customers. That goes across the board, no matter who you're talking to, but when I was at automotive, the main focus was on trying to sell the dream of this vehicle. And I worked in the special finance department, so it was not just selling the dream of a vehicle, but also of a loan approval, and trying to help people change their lives and go from, maybe they just got out of a bankruptcy and needed to have a more dependable set of wheels. So, it's selling those dreams.
Jennifer 03:40
When I worked in healthcare, it was on the urgent care side. And in urgent care, initially, I had to wrap my head around: How do you even market health care? It's not really something that people want to think about. It's not sexy, it's not fun, especially when it comes to urgent care. People don't think about it until they absolutely need it. And by that point, you need to make sure that your brand and your messaging is so top of mind that, of course, they would think of you initially. But a lot of folks don't realize that urgent cares are actually owned by a lot of separate organizations, they just think Urgent Care is urgent care. So, that was a bit of a challenge, going from automotive over to urgent care, is trying to be top of mind, so that way when someone gets injured or sick, you're the first person that they think of.
Jennifer 04:31
When I moved over to cybersecurity, I got to cheat a little because my husband has been in the field for a very long time. So, I've sort of been able to listen to a lot of the things that he's been talking about and understand the industry a little bit before I dipped my toe in. So, that gave me a little bit of a good head start, but there is so much to learn and it's constantly changing. Just when I think I have the acronyms down pat. Oh my god, we have more acronyms. Acronyms upon acronyms. So, that part's exciting, because there's always something new to learn. There's always a new element or facet of cybersecurity that you can go into, but I would say the biggest difference between cybersecurity and the two other industries that I worked in, is the audience. Our audience is very, very skeptical. We've almost trained them to be so, because we've used very generic, washed out terms for so long that it's
hard for people to know what our products and services actually do if we don't speak very transparently and clearly. It's also tough for them to believe us, if we use big terms like, 100% unhackable, or military grade, or all those fun buzzwords. I just listened in on the "Ask a CISO a Question" webinar you guys did, and it was so interesting to hear their take on the things that we're all guilty of, from time to time, especially if you're not hyper-technical. We kind of lean on some of those words a little bit. And it's a very good reminder, it keeps me honest, honestly thinking of: What will this audience actually want to know about our product? And what types of terms will they actually respond to? Or, what will resonate with them? That's the biggest difference, I'd say, between the other industries is we've got a bit of a tough audience, but it's also a really good challenge to have, it forces us to be better marketers, I think.
Maria 06:36
Yeah. And I think that's what makes cybersecurity marketing fun, too, because you are being
challenged every day on everything that you learned yesterday, you're being challenged on it today.
Jennifer 06:46
And if you make a misstep, you will be publicly roasted and humiliated, and everyone will know. So, you've got to be on top of your game and stay honest.
Maria 06:58
So, Jen, as a consultant, you do have to be a little bit of a generalist and I think you do a really good job of that. What do you think are the pros and cons of being a generalist in marketing?
Jennifer 07:11
That's a great question. So, the pros, I'm a little bit biased, because I am more on the generalist side. I think, for startups especially, it's good to have, I don't know a better way to say this, but a sampler platter of a marketer. Someone that knows enough of each of the different areas that can really get the ball rolling, and someone who can make the connections between all the different elements of marketing. There are a lot of moving pieces, there are a lot of them operationally. We have so many different tools that we can use and agencies that we can use. It's helpful to have someone who understands how those different pieces connect, and when to make those different connections. The bad side of it, on the con side, is that if I do need to get hyper technical or super in the weeds about something, I either need to do a crapload of research, or I need to either hire a specialized consultant or an agency to do those different activities. So, it's a blessing and a curse. It's a good thing, because I can see the big picture, do a lot of the strategy elements, and understand what levers to pull, but with
some of the levers, I might need a specialist to assist on that regard.
Maria 08:29
It's so true. Gianna, do you want to jump into some of the branding questions?
Gianna 08:36
Yeah. So, Jen, I know you have put together the 10 commandments of kindness for cybersecurity marketers. We think it's very cute, and it's located on the Cybersecurity Marketing Society blog. So, everybody who's listening, if you want to read and follow the 10 commandments of cybersecurity marketing, check out the show notes, we're gonna put the link to that, which was written by Jen here, and we're so grateful that she wrote such an awesome blog. So, Jen, in this post, you've outlined 10 commandments, hard rules pretty much, for cybersecurity marketers to follow. Can you tell us about which ones you think are the most important and why?
Jennifer 09:26
I started with the one that I think is most important, and that is to respect your audience's time. I feel like everything really comes back to that. Everyone is so insanely busy, no matter what level you're in, or honestly what industry you're in. It's kind of a bad thing that we're all constantly busy when you ask someone, "Hey, how are you doing?" 9 times out of 10, the first thing they're gonna say is, "Oh, I'm busy. I'm busy, but good. Oh, I'm busy, but good." I'm guilty of that myself. Everyone's constantly inundated with messaging from so many different channels, and if you're adding to all of that noise, it's going to be hard to stand out, but it's also so important to do your research and to understand who you're trying to speak to. So, that way you can cater your messages to them, or even see if that's the
right audience for you, or move on to someone that your product or service can actually help. So, I started with that one, because everything else kind of follows after that. The respecting your audience's time is, in my opinion, the most important. One of the next ones that I've led up to was to stop gating all of your content. I know that is a hotly debated topic. There are folks that want to ungate all of their content, which I'm down with as well, but I know that there are times when you really need leads, but that shouldn't be the reason that you slap a form in front of a piece of content. My general rule of thumb is, if there is a piece of material, no matter how big it is, if it's educating your prospective customer about your business, do not put any barriers in front of that. You want them to be able to educate themselves about your product, without a barrier, without a form, without asking them for the name of their firstborn. And if you do have something that you want to gate, or to put a lead in front of, like its
unique research, or something really thick and juicy, then ask for the minimal amount of information, even just an email address. If you can then append that with Zoom info or some other tools, make it as easy as possible for your prospective customer and people who are actually interested and engaged in your content. I think having so many contact forms in front of data is just, it's frustrating as a consumer of information, and you don't want to frustrate your prospective customer. That's the last thing you want to do.
Maria 11:57
I love that one. I think that's one of my favorites out of all 10. And usually, you see a little bit of
pushback, I think, from either your wider team, or from leadership, on the idea of ungating and not actually getting leads. And then, you know, waiting for that SEO six months from now, because you ungated the white paper.
Jennifer 12:18
I think, especially with our particular audience in cybersecurity, they are very adept at doing their own research. They're accustomed to trying to find the actual technical specs and pieces of information. So, they're going to spend the time that they need to do the research and investigate, and they are the quickest to, you know, pass on your website if it doesn't show what you do and if you're putting too many barriers in front of your content.
Jennifer 12:50
If you did pay $25,000 for a report, feel free to gate it. Yeah. I think, you know, everyone's like, "Ungate everything." Well, some things are actually valuable and, even though it does put you into a nurture flow, or maybe it does mean that you will get a follow-up, you know, people will gauge on their own. People on the internet are smart, we know that that's what happens. And if something is actually valuable, I mean, I give my email to things that I think are like, really good. I'm like, "Oh, yeah, this is great stuff. I want it, you can have my email, you got my phone number. I'm not going to pick up the phone, but you can call me, I guess."
Jennifer 13:29
A good example was, just to drop some names here, those Zimperium Global Mobile Threat Report that recently came out was stacked with trends and data and great information. So, I was quick to give my email address, even though I had access to the data because I helped with the editing on that project. I wanted to submit my information to see the final product because it just was that good. It was that juicy, but that's one of those where it was actually worth it to submit my information, even knowing that it would put me in the tickler file for a while. The next one actually, the next one is a really good one too, and it is: don't be creepy. Don't be creepy is number three in the commandments of kindness for cybersecurity marketers. The creepy factor, I think we've all seen it and they were just talking about it in
that Ask A CISO Your Marketing Questions webinar, throwing a calendar invite on someone's calendar without any interaction with them initially, that weird whiteboard picture or fridge picture with the person saying, "Hey, call Jen. It's on my to-do list." Yeah, no, that is so creepy and gross, and even though sometimes those things happen, those activities happen outside of the marketing department, I still would hold us marketers accountable because we're responsible for maintaining good relationships with these other departments. Whether it's sales or BDR, or external comms, you need to have enough engagement with those teams to be able to see what resources they might need, if there are different
assets that would help them, and to better understand what their workflow is, so that you can stop those things before they happen, or say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, no, please, please, dear God. Do not do that. That is that is horribly creepy." So, yeah, don't be creepy. I think we need to just vow to not be creepy as marketers.
Gianna 15:30
You're right, that was a hot topic on the Ask a CISO Your Marketing Questions webcasts, that we actually just did right before this podcast, so we'll make sure to link to that in the show notes. Maria, what do you think? How personal have you gotten, and how personalized is too creepy?
Maria 16:05
I think, with the rise of intent data, the meaning of "personalized" and "creepy" are going to take a different form. And I think there is a tasty way in which we could use information and engagement data that we have in marketing. Tasteful, not tasty. Oh geez.
Jennifer 16:24
Oh no, tasty works, too. I describe content as big and juicy, I think it's around lunchtime.
Gianna 16:32
Yeah, we're all, like, very hungry right now.
Maria 16:37
So, yeah, I mean, we know a lot and we can know even more. It's just depends on understanding whether our audience actually wants us to use that in a creepy way.
Jennifer 16:49
Yeah, there's other ways to do your research, understand your customer, personalize it with the types of content and information that will be valuable for them, without just seeming like a weirdo.
Gianna 17:04
We'll include an example of some bad personalization in a blog post that we'll link to in the show notes, everybody. You'll get a first-hand account of some of the things that all of us have gotten in our inboxes that are just a little too far.
Jennifer 17:22
And I think that's important to note as well. When there are things like that, that take place, either something that's too buzzword heavy, or something that's creepy, we call each other out, too. That's one of the things I love about the Cybersecurity Marketing Society, is that it is a way for us to share ideas and do, like Maria, what you've said, that coopetition thing. Even though we might be competitors, we can still share ideas within the space, but I feel like it's a good chance for us to have constant reminders of what not to do. And whenever we see strings on, whether it's LinkedIn, or Reddit, or Twitter, where our target personas are talking about things marketers do that they hate, we share that with each other. We want to do better. We fall into bad habits sometimes, but we really, truly do want to do better. And I love the Society for that, that we're all like that. It also is just a good chance to meme-ify things and make each other laugh, which is always welcome.
Maria 18:26
The best channel of the entire group.
Jennifer 18:28
The memes. I'll praise the memes. Yeah.
Maria 18:32
So, what's next on the list of commandments, Jen?
Jennifer 18:34
Next one is to listen. I don't think I need to go into that one too much. Honestly, I feel like Danny Wolf did a fantastic job of that on her podcast with you guys. Listening to your prospective customer, wherever they're discussing their problems, but also listening to— When I talk about audience, I'm also talking about our internal teams, our sales teams, our development teams. Listen in on customer
success calls, try to immerse yourself in whatever elements will help you to better understand your product, your company, your pain points. Not just for your customer, but also for your other team members as well. Building those relationships across your whole company will pay off in dividends in the future. After that one, actually, number five. So, the fifth commandment is to honor thy mother, and that is Mother Earth. I have to admit and confess that I have not always done a good job of following this commandment, but when we're getting ready for events or conferences, it's so easy to just order some crappy promo items to just have something on the table, but we are very creative people. We need to focus those creative powers on thinking of different experiences that we can do, or some other way that we can get people to our booth, without just passing out another piece of plastic crap. Now, I say this, as I sit here playing with a piece of plastic crap that's like a little fidget toy. This one I love. I
didn't actually get it at a conference. I got it, I think from playing skee ball, which is fun, but I feel like we can do better. And I think that perception has shifted a lot, too, within our industry, where people don't want just another pen or another notebook. This is one of those areas where, if you ask 10 people what their favorite promo item is, you'll get 10 drastically different responses. You'll have some people that say, "I will never pick anything up. I don't care what it is. It's all a waste of money. It's a waste of time, that all goes to the landfill." And then you'll have another person say, "Oh, I grab every single pen that I can get my hands on." I actually met a guy at an energy set conference, who said that he takes a pen from each booth. He takes it home to his wife, and she does a test, they do this cute little pen challenge to see which of the vendors had the best pen, which I thought was adorable. It's very cute because I've ordered pens before and it makes me really happy to know that someone took it home and did a huge, like, Coke Pepsi Challenge with it.
Jennifer 20:02
What did the vendors win if they had the best pen?
Jennifer 21:24
Oh, nothing, probably just mindshare for that particular individual.
Maria 21:34
I was gonna say you win a demo with that person.
Jennifer 21:38
Hey, that would go a long way. I think someone was talking about having, I think it might have been Richard Malik talking about the pet a puppy, or having a little puppy pet thing, which is adorable. But the options are really endless. There are so many things that we can do at our booths or just with different experiences that I want to challenge us, myself included. To get a little more creative when it comes to events. And Honoring Thy Mother Earth isn't just about not buying a lot of plastic crap. It's thinking about your carbon footprint if you're shipping items, or you know, sending people to different conferences. There are just so many different times that we can take a step back and really think, "Okay, do I need to actually order this? Is there somewhere that I can locally source for this item? Can I swap a badge?" You know, do a badge scan in exchange for, you know, a $10 to $50 donation to a local charity. Tons of options out there.
Maria 22:43
Love that. Jen, we need to know: What is skee ball?
Jennifer 22:48
What is skee ball? Oh my god. I think I use the word right and pronounce it correctly. So, that is where you have a wide lane. It's almost like bowling, but you have a little target that's angled towards the end. And you have to throw the ball, or, well, roll the ball to try to make it into the center target. They have it at a lot of video game arcades. I'm probably aging myself right now, but we still have those. I have a ton of nieces and nephews. So, I go to kids’ birthday parties all the time and there's usually skee ball, and I freaking love skee ball.
Maria 23:20
Ah, okay, I know that, I just never knew what it was called.
Jennifer 23:24
That might be a fun booth event, too. If you could get a little skee ball thing there, too, I would stay at your booth all damn day.
Maria 23:30
That's awesome. Oh, yeah, yeah, I know what that is. I never knew it was called skee ball. Yeah. Awesome.
Jennifer 23:40
Next one is very cybersecurity specific, actually. I shouldn't say it's cybersecurity specific, but I see it a lot in this industry, and it's not to fall into the trap of focusing on FUD. The fear, uncertainty and doubt. I think they were talking about that in the CISO call as well. It's an easy trap to fall into because there are a lot of things that just scare the crap out of me. When I was working in a different industry, just starting to understand a little bit more, as my husband got more involved in cybersecurity, it's almost like lifting a veil. You have this, you know, "I used to be young and innocent and naive and so happy." And then you lift this veil, and you realize how many potential scams are out there, how easy it is for you to get totally owned, and it's why a lot of us are very, very hesitant to share information, because we're so focused on privacy and anonymization. And it's easy to lean on those scarier factors, but that's not the
right kind of messaging for the audience, or really for the world, in general. And I think it clouds our messaging too, because you're so focused on, "You should be scared of this big bad thing," versus, you know, actually focusing on the real problems and not blowing things out of proportion. But yeah, we see that in our industry all the time. It's a constant battle, though, too.
Gianna 25:14
How are you navigating that? How are you applying that and stepping away from FUD? Obviously, you want to be in the conversation about threats and about breaches. What are you doing done to make sure that it doesn't lean towards FUD?
Jennifer 25:28
Yeah, I take a pause, take a moment, and really ask: Do we have something of value that we are adding to the conversation? Is this going to be additive? Or, is it just adding to the noise that people are having to sift through? Especially if it's during some sort of a new crisis, where our analysts and our researchers are really fighting. They're awake super long hours, they're trying to secure and defend their environments. Is this going to be one more piece of crap noise that they'll have to sift through to try to actually do their job? If there's something truly additive, then let's move forward with it. but otherwise, I mean, we do this with a lot of my clients, we try to take a back seat in some of that stuff, so that you're not ambulance chasing. And you're not just, you know, focusing on what's trending, which is just terrible. You don't ever want to add to something miserable trending, it's not good.
Gianna 26:33
Not every threat is relevant to you. So, that's how I keep it up a tier at my day job. It's, like, we are entering relevant conversations. If we had a big research team, or we were doing a lot of thought research on these incidents and these threats and these newsworthy things, if we had the bandwidth to write a really good, in-depth blog post on the threat, it's okay to be adjacent to it, even if we don't touch it. I'm totally okay with that, with saying, "Hey, here's something relevant that's useful to you, even though our product doesn't solve it," but then, you have to also balance what else you're doing and if the effort is worth it to enter the conversation, because a lot of threats are just not relevant to a lot of companies.
Jennifer 27:19
Right. Or, there are so many brands and companies already saying those types of things, so you're just regurgitating information, which isn't good for anybody.
Gianna 27:30
I'll add that curation can be helpful and can be useful in my perspective, but yeah, you don't need to be doing that for everything. Unless that's your MO, or unless that's a broad awareness tactic for you. It's all based on what we what your strategy is, of course, to each individual company, but for those of us who are time-strapped, not everything is something we need to talk about or be relevant to.
Jennifer 27:57
A good example I'll share is, when log4j first started exploding, I feel like GreyNoise did a fantastic job of providing content and relevant intelligence in a timely manner, and they tried to round up some, not necessarily thought leaders, but people that were on top of the ball and actually knew what was going on, and did some great webinars and provided their information free of charge. So, I love things like that, that was extraordinarily relevant, extraordinarily additive, and timely. It was truly helpful for a lot of folks that were trying to defend against that.
Gianna 28:43
And now, we'd like to take a moment to thank our sponsors and producers, Hacker Valley Media. Chris Cochran and Ron Eddings run an amazing studio here, which produces not only the Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing podcast, but a bunch of other shows that you're gonna want to listen to as well. So, all these shows, plus more and then, on top of that, probably even more coming soon, are available to look at, listen to, and sponsor at HackerValley.com. Make sure you go over there and say, "Hey, Gianna, and Maria said I should come check out your website, listen to your shows, and sponsor a podcast or two."
Gianna 29:23
Another company who I think is a good example of doing this, along with GreyNoise, is also Huntress. Huntress is very good at being the intelligence source on threats and breaches, but again, that's part of their strategy. That's what they're doing, and they also have incident response in their platform, I do believe, it's aligned with their product, too.
Jennifer 29:48
Yep, and this is one of those other areas, too, where we've seen public shaming taking place. Like, God, I just got this email and I can I believe they're trying to tell me, "Oh, you know, if you had our product, you would have been able to avoid blah, blah, blah, insert threat here," that that'll drive people insane. Instant block. Yeah. The next one, then, number seven was to never stop learning. And I think that is really important. When you boil everything down to trying to make decisions as a marketer, from a point of kindness, it might seem a little odd to have that as one of the commandments, but I think sharpening the saw and trying to stay on top of your game, whether it's about your industry, or intelligence, or your marketing skills, that is the kindest thing that you can do for your customers and for your teams. Because you're not going to be trying to do the same thing that we've always done, just because it's always been that way. That's one of the most dangerous habits in marketing. "Well, we've always done it that way." Oh, God, that scares the crap out of me when I hear people say that, because that usually means that there are so many things broken that you probably don't even realize within your processes or your messaging. So, you always want to be on top of trying to absorb information from a ton of resources, like this amazing podcast, and there are so many, there's so many resources out there. Sometimes, that's a challenge, too, just shifting through those and trying to figure out which ones are going to help you, which ones are actually relevant, but usually, after you watch a few videos, or listen to a few podcasts from a channel, you can tell, "Okay, this one's for me, I'm going to keep this one in my rotation list." But that's a big one, too. I know, time is of the essence, but it's time that will pay for itself in the long run is, you know, investing in yourself, in your education.
Gianna 32:08
So, what about commandment 8: read the room?
Jennifer 32:15
Oh, yes, read the room. So, we touched on this one just a little bit ago, where we were talking about not ambulance chasing, but this is more about trying to understand what your audience is going through. Whether it's defending against log4j, or if they're in the middle of an actual world crisis, understand what they are struggling with at that time. Don't be insensitive, don't be tone deaf. Don't send them that email that starts with, "Hey, I hope your week is going well," when you know clearly, if you knew anything about their job role, you would know that it's an "Oh, dear God" moment and it is not going well at all. This is probably one of the toughest weeks they've had in months. So, understand what they're what they're going through, what their struggles are, and know when to press pause on some of your communications. We've got so many awesome tools that help us to automate things and preschedule things, but it can be a huge error if you just pre-schedule, and then let those things you know, set it and forget, it does not always work well in our industry. If there's something huge happening, take a back seat, it's okay to be a little quiet for a little while and let folks work through whatever they're struggling through, and then start your communications again.
Maria 33:39
Yeah, I really, I really liked that. And I think we saw some of that within the Society group when the war in Ukraine started. There were a lot of people who made it a point not to join the bandwagon of talking about the cyber-attacks and all of the cyber threats that were coming out of them, but also just being sensitive to how people are feeling in those first few weeks. And I think maybe there's there are some that are still kind of like, going light on comms because of that it's still going on today, right?
Jennifer 34:16
It's the right thing to do for a lot of reasons. Again, you don't want to be adding to any noise if it's not actually additive, or adding value. And by all means, you do not want to further stress an audience that is already going through a lot. That'll leave a sour taste in their mouths too.
Maria 34:34
Yeah, and that's also for the sales team, too, because the sales team could be using the wrong type of messaging and not being sensitive to what's going on, too. Yep, yep, yep.
Gianna 34:45
So, number 9. Don't be a liar liar, pants on fire. We hit that already with military grade, as with all these buzzwords, but number 10: give back to the community. That's interesting, that's something that we don't often talk about. Community. And I mean, you and me and Maria talked about it all the time, because we're in an amazing community that gives back, but giving back to the cybersecurity community is a little different, right?
Jennifer 35:19
Yeah, this has a few different layers. So, growing up, my mom was a volunteer. She volunteered at so many different places. She was a stay at home mom, but she was actually volunteering, I think, longer hours than a lot of people work their full-time job. So, I grew up in a household where being of service was really, really important. And that's something that's just stuck with me and my core. So, when it comes to giving back to the community, to the cybersecurity community, that's anything from sharing your intelligence within your different trust groups, to donating your time, or volunteering at a conference or an event. Just helping out, which also, by the way, helps with networking and sharpening your skills, too. Donating, if you've got the money for it. Donate to send someone to a conference that has education that you think would help them to develop in their career. Volunteer to be a mentor to someone. You don't even need to do all of these things in some sort of official manner, just look at
different things and think: How can I help? How can I help in this situation? Because there's always a way that you can help, whether that's through augmenting a message, or sharing things with the wider audience, or creating new pieces of content that help people to educate themselves about different parts within the cybersecurity industry. Like I said earlier, there are so many different facets to this industry and so many different things to learn that it's kind of intimidating for someone, even with my background, where I had sort of learned a little bit through my husband's experience in the industry. It's intimidating to come in, and there are just so many different things to ramp up on. That skill ramp is pretty massive. Having someone there to not really hold your hand, but to help give you a hand up when you need it, makes such a world of difference. And find like-minded folk within things like the Cybersecurity Marketing Society, or other groups. 1000 members strong. That's amazing. That's so
awesome. Yeah, find those different communities where you can help each other out. And sometimes, that just means having a shoulder to cry on, even if it's virtually, just understanding that you're not alone, that a lot of us are going through similar things is super helpful. So, yeah, I ended it with that one, because I feel like that's the one that's going to keep going on forever. It's like commandment number 10 lives on for the rest of time, because those little acts of service within your community, they spread tenfold.
Gianna 38:11
That's amazing. Very important.
Maria 38:15
Oh, how amazing is this list of commandments, Jen? So timely, because I feel like you summarized Ask a CISO Your Marketing Questions.
Jennifer 38:26
I'm glad I said that. I'm glad I sent you guys the link before that, because otherwise, he would have thought I've stole all the ideas from there. It was really reaffirming to hear directly from the mouths of some of our prospective customers that these are things that are important to them, too. It's a good little pat on the back like, "Okay, yes, I'm going in the right direction." Because coming from different industries and being new-ish to cybersecurity, we all have that impostor syndrome, we all have those moments where we doubt ourselves. Even when I was asked by you guys to be on this podcast, that negative self-talk started, "Oh, what the hell are you going to have to talk about?" But this is something that I'm very passionate about, just marketing, in general, I can't ever turn off that marketing brain. It's always active. It's always trying to find different ways that other companies can improve their restaurant menu, or something stupid, and that core of being of service and trying to look at every decision from a
point of: Is this kind? How can I find the kindness within this decision? I definitely can't say that I follow all of these all the time, it's part of the reason why I wanted to write it out and have a little printable version to remind myself, but I can say that I probably follow these commandments a little more than the actual 10 commandments because those are just crazy. But these are very, very good reminders of things that we can do to try to keep ourselves in check, as marketers and just human beings in general.
Gianna 40:16
Okay. So, Jen let's play our game. Or, actually, Maria, do you want to do games, or do you want to just ask Jen? Skee ball? Just kidding.
Maria 40:29
I think, let's ask Jen.
Gianna 40:32
Jen, so this is our last question of the episode. Tell us, if you were not a cybersecurity marketer, or an automotive marketer, or a medical marketer, or marketer at all, what would you be doing?
Jennifer 40:50
Oh my gosh, that's a horrible question because I'm always a marketer. Let's see, what would I do if I weren't a marketer? I don't think I can ever switch off that part of my brain. I love the creative and analytical side of it, but I would reframe that as, if I had unlimited funds, like if I just had won the lottery, even though I never actually play it. If somehow, by a miracle, I won the lottery and I had all the money, I think I would just be a full-time volunteer, like my mom used to do. I would volunteer my marketing services to help different nonprofits, or organizations, to improve their messaging because oh my word, there are a lot of nonprofits out there doing a lot of good with really good causes, with really terrible marketing that just need a little push, a little bit of help to do even more good. I think that's what I would do it. That's kind of cheating, because it's still marketing, but if I was really and truly not allowed to
market at all, gosh, what would I do? Maybe, I love training and teaching, so I might want to go into teaching, but I have siblings who are teachers, so I see the other, tougher side of that. I admire teachers, but full-time volunteer. That's my answer. I'm sticking to it.
Maria 42:10
Love that. Well, I would have been wrong, had I guessed. I thought maybe something in the music industry.
Jennifer 42:21
Oh, really? Oh, you know what? That could be fun. Maybe a singer or superstar? You'll have to see when I do karaoke at our next Society event, then you'll say, "No, stick to your day job, kid, stick to marketing."
Gianna 42:36
I was gonna say, like, an artsy fartsy person, without being so offensive by saying artsy fartsy, but you know, like an artistic, artsy fartsy. That's someone who does like, I could see you like, water coloring?
Jennifer 42:51
Oh, I love watercolors. Oh, yes. Actually, when I first went to college, back in the day, I was an art major, not because I was any good at it, but just because I really enjoyed it. So, that's one of those weird paths, where if you ask marketers like, "Hey, how did you get involved in it?" I'd assume that most of us didn't actually major in it initially, we started doing something else, but I'd absolutely say artsy fartsy singer volunteer.
Gianna 43:22
There you go. Okay, good. Triple threat right there. Jen, how do people get in contact with you if they want to learn more or engage with you for some services, or just chit chat about being an artsy fartsy singer volunteer?
Jennifer 43:35
Yes, LinkedIn is probably the best way. First challenge is trying to spell my last name, so good luck on that. Twitter, I'm on there a little bit, not a whole heck of a lot. I need to update my website for my consulting, so don't go there, that's a secret. Now everybody's going to try to go to the website, it's thejvan.com. But really, LinkedIn is probably the easiest way to get a hold of me, or join the Cybersecurity Marketing Society and hit me up in our Slack group.
Gianna 44:06
Yeah. Alright, so we'll link to all of those links, except for the one that Jen doesn't want included.
Jennifer 44:11
Thanks, until I update it.
Gianna 44:14
Yeah, so that might be there by the time you listen. So, those will be in the show notes and we'll see you next time. Thanks, Jen, for being on our pod.
Jennifer 44:22
Thank you both so much. That was fun.
Maria 44:25
Yeah, this was really nice. Thank you so much for your time.
Gianna 44:28
If you want to be on Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing, please send us an email at
podcasts@hackervalley.com We'd love to have you on as a guest. Please make sure to like, subscribe, share, listen, up-vote, everything positive you can do about this show. We're trying our best to get the message out there that cybersecurity marketing isn't boring and difficult and lonely, not with us. See you soon.

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