How do you make B2B cybersecurity marketing interesting? This episode brings Travis Hawley, the Director of Media at BlueVoyant, to the Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing podcast to find out. He talks about his background that led him to cybersecurity marketing, his current role at BlueVoyant, how companies can use emerging media to promote products or services, and indeed how to make B2B cybersecurity marketing more interesting. Plus, Travis shares the Facebook groups he created and introverts in cybersecurity.
Timecoded Guide: [05:20] What BlueVoyant does and the stage of the company
[08:40] How companies with limited resources can use emerging media
[11:17] How to make B2B marketing engaging, educational, and sticky
[23:14] How to get your employees engaging and sharing content
[27:26] How to get founders or CEOs engaged and what to do if you can’t
[42:21] Travis’ Facebook groups and meme culture
What is emerging media and how can companies with limited resources use it?
Traditional media is your white papers, blogs, reports, email marketing, etc. Those have their place and are useful but emerging media is two-fold. But Travis believes it’s video but it’s also what new platforms arise (like TikTok). In terms of limited resources, work with what you do have. For example, if you have a two-hour long webinar already recorded, you can take that and break it up into shorter 30-second video clips. Now you have content already done you can simply post in your marketing campaign.
“If you have limited resources, you have to be creative. And you may not be able to do it at the scale you want. But you can still get video out there, even if it isn't the most ideal video experience that you want. Start small, start with what you have, and just start creating that account of the data of any kind of video and you'll most likely start seeing the results of that.”
How do you make B2B marketing engaging?
Travis says you need two big things: faces and voices. People want to engage with content featuring someone who looks like them and talks like them. Graphics and the like aren’t engaging enough. You need to feature the faces and voices of your target audience and/or your employees, because people don’t buy from companies; they buy from people. You can even do an animated video of text of someone's quote and their headshot.
“So to me, in most cases, all content will fall under two buckets: it's either educational, or I would say utilitarian, useful. Or it's entertaining. And then hopefully, the best of both worlds is if you can have overlap there. And if they are educational and entertaining, and there's overlap to some degree, then the content is sticky, you're gonna have retention. How do you get employees engaged with marketing?
Again, faces and voices. In Travis’ experience, employees generally like to celebrate their co-workers achievements. So if you post a video of someone in one department and tell the rest of the company, it’s much more impactful than a paid actor. Because the employees know this person, they work with this person, they want to support this person. Employees don’t necessarily have a relationship with other employees, but they have a relationship with their co-workers.
“Employee advocacy starts from the ground up, any employee needs to be empowered to create content, to co-develop content, to ideate content, and to star in the content. And that's how you get people to want to engage more is to support their own colleagues.
What about founders, how do you get founders or CEOs engaged with marketing strategy?
Founders and C-suite executives are very busy people. So start with trying to figure out the value that marketing is adding to your company, go to the data. Show the founder the value and see if you can get buy-in from them but if you can’t, that’s okay. You can find other influencers and subject matter experts in the company who want to advocate for the services and the company itself. Employees are just as effective evangelizers.
“They're the leaders of the company. And they have the most knowledge and on the vision and on the services and things like that. But you don't need them, let's just be honest, you don't.”
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Welcome to the Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing podcast…
… where we explore the hottest topics in cyber marketing, interview experts, and help you
become a better cybersecurity marketer.
Hello, hello and welcome to another episode of Breaking Through in Cybersecurity
Marketing. I'm one of your hosts, Gianna Whitver.
And I’m Maria.
And we are so excited for today's guest. We have Travis Hawley, who when I say his name, it
brings out my New Jersey accent. So apologies, Travis, and everyone listening. He is the
Director of Media at BlueVoyant. And we're so excited to have him on today because he's
going to tell us how to make all of our B2B cybersecurity marketing not freaking boring,
especially our media. Travis, thank you for being on today.
Travis Hawley 1:27
Hey, thanks for having me. Hopefully I can meet your expectations. The whole name thing,
don't worry, a lot of people say Travis Howl-ie, I guess I'm a wolf. I do have these canine
teeth that everyone seems to point out so maybe I am part wolf. So however you say it is
fine with me.
Awesome. I think we'll start in. There were a bunch of shows about them, weren't there?
Like “Teen Wolf” and like —
Travis Hawley 1:47
They're in for women, that's for sure.
Before we start Travis, you have a really interesting background, supremely interesting. Can
you tell us about your story, how you got here and like how you ended up doing B2B
cybersecurity marketing at the end of it?
Travis Hawley 2:03
Yes, super unexpected. And I really didn't even intend to get into marketing in general. So
my career actually started in the Air Force in 2007. I worked in intelligence, actually, I was
active duty Air Force, working at the NSA (National Security Agency). And a lot of people who do work in cybersecurity marketing, or cybersecurity in general now, have a lot of people from the intelligence community. So you'll see how it comes full circle. But that was my background, actually, in the military, is working in intelligence. And after I got out of the military, at least on active duty, believe it or not actually just started. This was around 2011 and 12, mostly 2012, I started making meme pages on Facebook back then. And long story short with the meme pages, I actually had some success with those pages, relative success for that time, especially on Instagram. And I actually used and leveraged my main page success to get myself in the door in marketing. And my first marketing job actually was at a company named Machine Zone, which is a very famous mobile gaming company in Palo Alto. We actually took over Facebook's quarters at the time. So I joined that company in 2014. That's how I got my start in marketing was on the B2C side, the consumer side, for a massive global gaming company, huge success. I ran all of their social media, all their community management, and their influencer marketing. And I worked with my friend Heather on all the celebrity and athlete marketing too, so that companies definitely launched my career. I went from nobody knowing not much about formal marketing experience to doing global campaigns with celebrities, athletes, influencers running all of their community management, social media too, so that just
launched my career there, really an immersion course into marketing at scale. And from there, I ended up moving to an influencer marketing agency named Viral Nation now they're quite large as well. So again, B2C, working with all the big brands, you can imagine gaming companies, food companies, clothing companies, what-have-you, developing influencer marketing campaigns for those companies. I actually went back into the Air Force full time, became an intelligence officer. The last two years, took a break from marketing, and then all that experience from the intelligence military side and consumer marketing side, I found myself at BlueVoyant in an interesting kind of position where of course in cybersecurity, they really appreciate people with intelligence backgrounds and technical backgrounds, but then I also have a parallel career in social media marketing. So that's the long story short of how I've used these two parallel careers to find myself in cybersecurity marketing somehow,
It's so cool. It's such a cool story and I think rare gem right? I think in cybersecurity marketing, we try to find people that have the skill or at least experience in different things, especially in startup, you need to wear a lot of hats, you need to come in and do the social, know a little bit of email, and know a little bit of product marketing, and do demand gen. And so seeing this nice combination of experience in your story, it's so cool. I can't wait to dive into what you're doing with it now in cybersecurity marketing,
Travis, to set the stage for the listeners, what does BlueVoyant do and what stage is the
Travis Hawley 5:25
So actually, what's interesting about BlueVoyant is it's very much in many ways, it's kind of
a conglomerate of different types of cybersecurity marketing companies have been fused
together into one platform. So we have managed detection and response, we have digital
risk protection, we have third party protection services as well, we have professional
services. So we really have kind of these four services and product lines together, that are
ultimately working in concert as one central platform to provide cybersecurity services to
all types of organizations and businesses, no matter their size and industry. Of course, like anyone focused on financial services and hospitals and government, those are the bread and butter for cybersecurity. So yeah, we do a multitude of different things, which is both amazing and also as a marketer, it can be a little challenging, because each one of our services could — is and could be — a business of itself. And it really is internally but also isn't because it's one centralized platform now called Elements. So that's what's really interesting about BlueVoyant is I didn't just move to a company that we focus on one thing. That actually would be easier, but that's not the reality. So it's also challenging for me as a cybersecurity newbie, because yes, I come from an intelligence background. And there's definitely some crossover with cyber in that, but I'm not a cybersecurity industry veteran at all. So I think there's pros and cons to that. But what I'm trying to do is bring my unique background to BlueVoyant and to cybersecurity industry in general. But I also think cybersecurity is really blowing up and expanding right now. So it's really interesting, because most people you talk to don't come from a cybersecurity background, a lot of people are just getting into it. So it's been both
challenging and fun so far, in my first six, seven months working in a cybersecurity company.
Because you have this very interesting role, too, you're the Director of Media. So what do
you cover as the Director of Media?
Travis Hawley 7:28
My primary focus is on our global social media efforts. And what I'm calling, unofficially, is
like “emerging media.” So actually, if you were to look at BlueVoyant social media right now,
it wouldn't really represent what we're about to do, we're about to launch a lot of new
media. And I can get into that maybe after this kind of segment here. But up into this point,
it's been focused on social media. So growing our social media, developing content that's
actually educational, entertaining, sticky, valuable, just really developing that infrastructure
and the scaffolding to scale our social media as we become more and more of a global
But yeah, the focus in the coming weeks and months is going to be actually more on
emerging media, not moving away, per se, but focusing on more engaging type of content in
the video realm, rather than just focusing on traditional media, which in the B2B space is
very much around white papers, and blogs, and reports, which are incredibly valuable. But
they aren't exactly designed, or as effective on social media, as people would like to believe
I think a lot of us in cybersecurity marketing are trying to figure out, how do we get out of
that usual B2B box of social media? And how do we do more? One of the struggles I've
personally had, and probably a lot of people too, is that doing other types of media can cost
money. And sometimes you don't have the budget, or sometimes you don't have the internal
resources and the skill set, particularly like video or even other types, curious what kind of
advice you have for those starting off with nothing, and want to do more emerging media?
Travis Hawley 9:12
That's the story of my life. That's the story of all our lives. Anyone working specifically in
social media, too. I think social media managers have it arguably the hardest, because still
to this day, especially on the B2B side. Again, I'm not speaking from maybe the company I'm
in now necessarily, but most companies don't understand the value of social media and even video and stuff as much. So there's a huge educational process, which is quite frustrating. Just to be frank with you, that you have to go through and you need to prove it out with metrics.
For example, with video, let's say showing them the increase in views, impressions, reach,
whatever metric you want to use, maybe top funnel initially to show, “Look, when we post
videos, we reach a lot more people organically than we do when we post other types of
media.” So clearly, that's some value, we're reaching more people, it's a greater ROI than
other types of media. And then also things with video even on LinkedIn now, which is really
cool on LinkedIn, which is the bread and butter generally of cybersecurity marketing. Also
Twitter, you can see now minutes watched. So that's a metric I'm using internally to show,
“Hey, look, people are watching literally hours of our video clips.” We’ll have a video clip
that's 30 seconds long. And some of them have 800 minutes of watch time. And I'm showing
people I'm like, “People are literally watching our videos for hours, can we prove that
people are looking at other content for hours? No.” Maybe sometimes on the website, you
can look at the on-page time and stuff too, that getting people to click is a catastrophe
nowadays. So that's another metric you use to prove the value of video.
So the education process using metrics, proving things with data is, of course, one way to do
that, to start showing the proof of concept, minimal viable product type of approach, to
start earning some trust and some support internally. I think that's the main way as a
marketer, you can start turning the tide on getting that support you need. But I'll be honest
with you even with that, that doesn't always work. So it's a struggle. And I'm not going to
stand here and pretend like I have all the resources that I need and want in any company
that I've worked in, regardless of cybersecurity. It's a struggle.
Yeah, thank God for Canva. For those of us who can't get internal buy in, or budget, you
figure it out a little bit and use what you got.
Travis Hawley 11:42
So in terms of what you are doing, obviously, BlueVoyant values social media and media and
new media, like you were saying, Travis, in terms of what you're doing now, what are some
things are you doing to make the media that you're producing more interesting, less boring,
less stuffy B2B? And you said four things and I forgot all of them. But you said four things, it
was like “sticky?” “Interesting?” Do you have a criteria? Like how do you do this to make it
make — how do you even just make stuff less boring? Tell us that, give us your secrets.
Travis Hawley 12:17
I think three of the words I said was like entertaining, educational, and sticky. So to me, in
most cases, all content will fall under two buckets: it's either educational, or I would say
utilitarian, useful. Or it's entertaining. And then hopefully, the best of both worlds is if you
can have overlap there. And if they are educational and entertaining, and there's overlap to
some degree, then the content is sticky, you're gonna have retention. Particularly with
video, people are going to watch things longer and deeper into that video, depending on the
So again, I'm trying to bring some of my successes, techniques and approaches from the
consumer side to the B2B side. And one of the ways I've been doing that, just in the few
months I've been at BlueVoyant, is really focusing on thought leadership content. But really,
how does that look? How does that feel? How does that sound? At the end of the day, to me,
the way to do that is with faces and voices.
So people like to put out a lot of ebooks, and white papers, and reports and all and blogs
and press releases. We need those things. I don't want to demonize those things. Those
things do have value, but we are fighting for attention in the feeds. How do you get people
to stop scrolling? And I literally call this type of content “scroll stopper” as like a
scroll-stopping content. How do you get people to stop scrolling? Well, people inherently
are looking for people that maybe look like them, talk like them, are interesting. So you
need faces and voices, not just graphics, not just moving texts, that stuff is ancillary to this.
So our focus has been on putting out content every single day that literally is a screenshot, if
it's an image, or it's a video of someone talking, it's their face, or it's an image of their face,
video. Like I said, it doesn't really matter that much, but it's better if it's video, of course. We
need people to see themselves and they need to see people they recognize. So even
internally with the company, the employees in our own company are much more likely to
engage with our own content — which is another topic we should cover at some point is
like the social advocacy — if they see someone they know.
So that's the hack is like getting employees involved in the content with their likeness. Some
people aren't comfortable, maybe with their face on video or images. That's okay. We can
find people who are comfortable, or we can slowly try to make people more comfortable
with being in front of the camera. Or if not, can we get their voice? Can we have a podcast
like we're doing now or a discussion and we just extract the audio? We'll just extract the
audio and then make a post that just uses the audio of that discussion. So we're doing all of
these things at BlueVoyant. And it's been working incredibly, you get so much more
engagement when there's people involved in the content. And ultimately, at the end of the
day, if you think about B2B much more than B2C, it's very sales oriented, or as Maria had
said, is demand gen. Okay, so who do people buy from? They buy from people, they don't
buy from websites, they don't buy from ebooks, and all the white papers, and all these
things, those things help the sales process, absolutely. But at the end of the day, the sales
cycle ends when someone is in a meeting with somebody. They're sitting face-to-face,
especially with high-ticket type of services, or they're on a Zoom, or whatever it is, and
people buy from people.
So the first impression that we should make is someone's face and voice. So they
understand who are the people behind this company? Can I trust them? You can trust
people a lot more when you see how they talk like I am now, I'm passionate, I'm talking
with facial expressions, I'm animated, you can hear their voice, you can hear the passion in
their voice, you can hear the expertise in their voice as well. You're not getting any of that,
at least in another dimension, another layer, from just written and just visual content in
So that is the big way that we've been trying to step up. And if you look at our feed now
you'll see a lot of that. But you may even be like there's not as much as he's making it sound
like, I’m trying, I promise you, and we're going to scale those efforts, because we have the
data now to prove that this is really, really effective in many, many ways. So that's kind of
my soapbox is really the faces and voices, getting faces and voices out there is a game
Oh my god.
I wish listeners could see my and Gianna’s face, while Travis was talking, literal amazement,
and so much nodding. It's so good.
Travis, one thing that strikes me while you were speaking is that of course, all of us
marketers say all the time: we're trying to humanize our brand. We're moving away from
shields; humanize. We're trying to humanize our brand. We're trying to, we're moving away from shields, we're moving towards the actual people, we’re like doing this, doing that. It's like social media is the arena on which the humanization battle is fought is what it truly is.
Because you could be trying to humanize your brand, but if you're not using your people — and I've often said that the best marketing is when you shine a light on the people inside of your company, the SMEs. That they can talk about the problem and they can talk about the
solution and they can talk about everything. It seems like social media is this battleground of like where it will really hash out, because this is the place where everyone can see, for free, your stuff. And like Maria said, the faces that we were making. We’re really, we're nodding strongly along with this.
Travis Hawley 17:43
I mean, it's so inherent. Honestly, in general, I'm just trying to say what everyone's thinking.
You may, some people might misinterpret my animation and passion and stuff for like, I don't know, being arrogant or something. It's not, I promise you, I'm just willing to say what
everyone else is thinking. Because I know it works. And there's data behind it. And I'm
passionate about it, because there's still resistance to this stuff. And frankly, it upsets me. So the more people are just not afraid to just say, “This is the reality. This is what we need to do. This is what works.” We need to change the paradigm. I'm just willing to do that.
That's awesome. You remind me a little bit — not you but like this whole faces and voices,
which I love faces and voices, like you should definitely buy the domain name
facesandvoices.com before I do later —
Travis Hawley 18:32
Are you gonna do domain squatting?
Yeah, I'm gonna do domain squatting and I’m gonna charge you $3 million for it in five years
when you launch the faces — I'm just kidding, I'm just kidding, oh my god!
So it reminds me a lot of like that refine labs Chris Walker, like he started doing the face and
the with the video with the text with the voice. So what you're saying, this approach that
you do, Travis, like we tried it too at VO Tierra. We are actively trying to get more of our
people to do short-form video content and then boost it on social. And we have found that
this has been our most successful content on social like by far, just in terms of what you
said, people are watching the full minute and 30 seconds of our guy talking essentially
about a problem and then our solution? And you can see the metrics. It's amazing. Anyone
who's listening who has a little bit of budget to spend on paid social, try a video.
Yeah, and I am seeing those actually those video shortcuts with transcription in the title on
top. I'm seeing companies use those in paid ads. So that's the actual asset for the ad, which
is really cool, I think.
Travis Hawley 19:36
There's another thing, here's another little tip that I'm also leveraging at BlueVoyant
because we have limited resources, believe it or not, as well. Here's the other thing too.
Sometimes maybe you can't or it's hard to find people to go on video and do conversations.
Again, we're worried about our backgrounds and how we look and the audio quality, video
call these things. Another hack — take it, please take it — is just get their headshot, and then get a quote of text. So it's a video we have — go on BlueVoyant’s LinkedIn or any other social— it's a video, it's 30 seconds, but nothing's moving. Okay, it's just their headshot, their text, their quote, their advice, whatever they're talking about. And maybe if you want, you can have the audio file below it. And that's just another way to be resourceful with limited type of access to talent, and video production and things like that.
So that's the other thing is you gotta find ways around it. If you have limited resources, you
have to be creative. And you may not be able to do it at the scale you want. But you can still
get video out there, even if it isn't the most ideal video experience that you want. Start
small, start with what you have, and just start creating that account of the data of any kind
of video and you'll most likely start seeing the results of that. And then you can use that to
springboard to, “Hey, look how our not-so-great videos are already doing. Can we invest a
little bit more and step this up?” And then just little by little, try to get the resources you
need to get to that production level that you really want.
Hey Travis, that could possibly work too for those of us who don't have a lot of resources,
that could possibly work for repurposing webinar content, taking snippets from that?
Travis Hawley 21:19
Oh absolutely. Oh, yeah. Okay, so take it, everyone take the advice, I don't care, it's all free.
Any webinar you're doing should be cut into 20 pieces of content. And honestly, we're not
doing this at the scale I want. I'll just be honest with you guys, limited resources, we only
have a certain amount of video editors and stuff like that, but we're trying. And that is the
model. If you're doing a webinar, it's an hour long. If you cannot find 20 snippets, nuggets of
information, something's wrong. Pull, extract 30- to 90-second clips of the webinar.
Here's the thing, though, if the webinar doesn't look that great, then don't use the video
from the webinar, just use the audio. Pull out that audio file, make a new video, like I said,
get their headshot in there, put the quote in text or something, it can animate, or it can just
be static there. And now you have the audio. So you have someone's face and their voice. But maybe you improve the webinar’s image. Because sometimes we also do some webinars that are a little more casual. It's for a specific audience. It doesn't need to be all beautiful, or whatever. And maybe they're going through some PowerPoint slides or something too, maybe don't want those all public as well. So anyways, that's just something to think about. All long-form content needs to be broken down into five to 20 micro pieces of content that, believe it or not, are probably going to do better than your macro content.
I swear, that's just so good.
Maria, do you want to get into the employees? And like how to leverage employees, like
what Travis was saying before?
Yeah, let's do yeah, let's talk about employee advocate. So we know there's tools out there
that help you do that, you pre-populate a bunch of content and stuff like that. What is your
advice for getting employees excited about sharing content and engaging with content that
you're posting out there? And then maybe even being involved, being that go-to salesperson
that's always willing to be on a webinar or the LinkedIn Live that sort of thing?
Travis Hawley 23:14
Easy. This is how you do it: faces and voices. People in the company want to celebrate other
coworkers' achievements as well. The more faces and voices you have of coworkers, the
more likely they are to engage with that content.
For example, I work in, let's say I don't know, I worked on the MDR side of the company,
manage detection and response. So guess what? I don't, I'm saying this hypothetically, you
get someone from that department or team to make content. And then when you post it,
that team is more likely to celebrate their own team's achievements and go comment and
What I've done at BlueVoyant is to enable all of the teams to bring any employee to make
content. Everyone is empowered to be on our social media. I don't care what your position
is, you're at the company for a reason. You have expertise, you have knowledge, you have
opinions, perspectives, you have outlooks. So that is how you're going to do it. You need to
involve anyone and everyone that is interested in making content. Then you get their face
and their voice in the content. So when you post it, and then for example, you post when
that LinkedIn post goes live, you get the link, you put it in your company Slack chat, and
then you say, “Hey, everyone, please go support Maria's post of the week. She's doing MDR
Monday or Threat Detection Thursday, or whatever topical stuff you guys are doing.” And
everyone sees, “Oh, Maria is on our social media? That's pretty cool. I'm gonna go engage
with it.” And guess what they do because we want to support each other.
But if your colleague isn't involved in that content, explicitly, their face, their voice, their
name, then they're much less likely to do that. It's more company content. So employee
advocacy starts from the ground up, any employee needs to be empowered to create
content, to co-develop content, to ideate content, and to star in the content. And that's how
you get people to want to engage more is to support their own colleagues.
That makes so much sense. Employee advocacy should be advocating for other employees'
content and not the content.
Travis Hawley 25:29
Not the company, not the company. Look, can we just be honest here, we love our
companies, we want to support our companies, they pay us well, they treat us well, we have
careers, that's awesome. But that's a company, that's not a person. We want to support
other people. And if we support other people at scale, the company will benefit from it. People generally aren't as interested in supporting company content, I promise you, but if it's Maria, my friend, I work with her every single day, or I see her every single day, I'm gonna like her content. I know that person, I have a rapport with that person, I do not have a rapport with the company, the company is not someone I have a relationship with. Okay, so we need to stop thinking employee advocacy is supporting the company. If you want to support the company, support people, and that will support the company at scale.
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Okay, here's a controversial one in the startup world, what about founders that are not
engaged enough out there in building the brand and selling our why, and our values and our
culture and why we're building this product or company? And I know a lot of cyber marketers suffer from this, what can we do?
Travis Hawley 27:26
Okay, this is actually very common, and I'll generalize, and hopefully people will understand
this: most founders are going to be on the older side. Okay. And most founders are maybe
not going to be as comfortable being a public face on LinkedIn or something like that. There's plenty that are, do not get me wrong. But there's a lot that aren't. The C-suite, they're going to do the media that the PR kind of makes them do. Maybe the CEO is going to go on the news every once in a while that's going to happen. But they're busy and they may not even care about social media, either in their personal life, they may barely use it. Get your first impression of how you can evangelize social media to them, show the value to them, and see if you can get buy-in, but don't dwell on it. If there's too much pushback, I'm not saying be a quitter, but quit. You don't need them, you do not need them, it would be way better if we had them. Honestly, it'd be way better. They're the leaders of the company. And they have the most knowledge and on the vision and on the services and things like that. But you don't need them, let's just be honest, you don't.
You can find other influencers within the company, other SMEs in the company, other
people who just want to advocate for services and the brand and the company. So
ultimately, try your best to evangelize it, show the value, but do not force it. Because at the
end of the day, we need efficiency. And we need to put out content at scale. And what I
found generally working with a lot of senior leaders, is you can't do that unless they
inherently understand the value and they're excited to do that. And if you cannot get them
to that point, then find the people that are. And it doesn't matter what level of the company
they're at, I promise you, I'm doing it now at BlueVoyant, we have people from all demographics and all hierarchies in the company making content, and it does just as effective. And now we get to do it at scale. So that's what I would say is do your best to evangelize, show the value, but at the end of the day, you don't need the senior leaders to be involved in all the content but hopefully they are.
Yeah, it's comforting to hear that it is still possible without that founder and a picture.
When you said quit, I thought you meant quit the company, I thought you meant like quit and leave. “All right, boss, you're not gonna go on LinkedIn? Goodbye.”
Travis Hawley 29:51
Okay, another thing you can try — also it depends, it’s very hard to do too — is you could
have some ghostwriting type of content as well from the leadership or you could have
someone to help manage their social. So there's some ways to make it easier because again,
I'm not like trashing on senior leaders or something like that, but they're super, super busy.
So unless they, like I said, unless they inherently love social media, some do most don't. There's just no use of really just banging your head against that wall. But that's another
option is to find a way to help manage their presence. And again, like anything in marketing: slowly start showing the value through metrics, and you might get more buy in over time.
Travis prior, you said emerging media, which is fun. That's a fun phrase, because it's very
like, “future.” Can you talk a little bit about what emerging media means to you? I know you
already said like video but are you also talking about things like TikTok and whatever the
next platform is? And VR/AR, what do you think about when you're thinking of emerging
Travis Hawley 30:50
Yeah, absolutely. So video would be the all-encompassing generic term for that, but you hit
the nail on the head: definitely emerging platforms. So TikTok, definitely still emerging, but
has been out for quite a few years, getting into things like TikTok, podcasting — you guys
are doing now though, I don't think every company should just do a podcast just because
everyone is doing a podcast. And I don't think every company should just be doing TikTok
just because everyone's doing TikTok, you have limited resources. And part of those limited
resources is time.
So you should focus on where you're going to get the most value for the resources you have.
But emerging content, that's how I would define it, is platforms, which for your brand, you
have not touched, but there is opportunity, and that also maybe are trending in a way
because look, we're marketers, we have to jump on trends. And we have to be careful not to
be distracted by trends. But if you're not smart enough, agile enough, and quick enough to
jump on trends, then you're really missing opportunities. Because really, especially in social
media — because of course my lens, my apparatus is definitely focused more on social
media in general — if you're not jumping on trends, then the analogy I'm making up on the
spot right now, it's like surfing, you need to catch each wave. And if you're not catching each
wave, then you're definitely not going to get as far; it doesn't mean you can't succeed. But
that's a big problem I see in B2B marketing is B2C, man, it is in the DNA to jump on trends,
right. So that's another kind of micro or meta point for emerging content would be the
trends, whatever it is: a type of content, a network, a meme template, whatever it is, trending hashtag, whatever it is, we need to get more on that. And admittedly, I have not done that at BlueVoyant yet, either. It's something it takes time to get people to get behind that, because people are more stuffy and risk averse in the B2B space, especially in cybersecurity, when we're dealing with very sensitive things like wars and threat groups and nation states and government. There's so much risk adversity, it's very hard to jump on these trends in a way that generally senior leaders see as tasteful or useful.
But we need to do that, someone's gotta do it, I'm going to try my best. But if it's not me that
hopefully it's someone listening to this, find a way to jump on trends that is a form of
emerging media in a sense, as well. And I think we're going to do a lot better, we really need
to flip the paradigm of being so risk averse, we need to protect ourselves and be legal and
be careful. But we need to find a way to be creative to work more with emerging media:
TikTok and podcasts and memes and trends and GIFs and all of this type of stuff. It is in our
best interest — and companies do not see this — but it is in their best interest to work with
these mediums and these media types.
Because here's the reality that nobody wants to admit, or maybe they're just not thinking
about: I as BlueVoyant, or as any other, let's say CrowdStrike, all these other big
cybersecurity companies, you're not, we're not competing against each other as much as we
think we are. And people are like, “That doesn't make sense.” In the feeds, we're not
competing with each other, I promise you people are not deciding, “Oh, whether I watch this
cybersecurity company's content, or that one?”
You know who we're competing with? We're competing with the B2C companies. Their
content is also in the feed. Their friends' content is in their feed. Their family's content is in
the feed. Oh, and guess what? There's other apps. Oh, Netflix and Facebook and HBO Max
and all this stuff. We're competing for attention in general. And at scale. It's not like whose
company content is better? You need to capture someone's attention, period.
When you go through a feed on any social network, it is not just cybersecurity companies.
It's literally anything and everything you could imagine. So when someone, when other
people are posting memes and funny, interesting videos and TikToks and all this stuff, and
then you're posting a white paper, what are people more likely to stop on? Even if that's
their job, they're gonna go to the thing that psychologically they're pulled into, which is
more energy gaining, more eye capturing. So we need to stop thinking that the way to
capture and retain someone's attention is through old traditional legacy media. We need to
start — whether you like it or not — getting into the more young, hip, controversial in some
ways types of media types, period.
Travis, what about — and we didn't really touch on — what this mindset is, accepting
media in various different forms and being different type mindset, in terms of promoting
company culture. And I immediately think TikToks, and people doing funny videos of life at
the office and Friday night, social hour, and things like that, that can be also pretty impactful
in terms of the company's success.
Travis Hawley 35:47
Absolutely. And that's something admittedly, too, I'm trying to do more of, and it's really
hard, especially when companies now are predominantly remote. So what is our culture?
What is our identity? Let's be honest: for the most part, it's how we interact on Slack and
how we interact in very small pods on Zoom meetings.
So what's really difficult, I'm finding now, is most companies are struggling to find their
identity, there's an identity crisis, and how can you express your values and your culture,
when you don't even know what it is? And when it does not have connective tissue across
all departments in the company? So how are you going to make content about that when
there's no agreement, or any type of unanimity on what that is?
So that's first and foremost, there needs to be leaders in the company, there needs to be
actual explicit values and mission, and engagements and events, where you actually can see
that. So that you can even capture content that exemplifies and illustrates that. So that's
step one. And I think most companies don't even have that, particularly if they’re remote.
Step two, I agree with you, the value of that is untold because people don't see from HR’s
perspective, or from even a buyer's perspective, that humanization of a brand, because it's
really hard to attribute, track directly how that leads to more sales or whatever. But guess
what? It's not just about sales. What about employee retention? What's the most important
thing for you sales? Sure, it is the oxygen of the business, we need revenue. But you need
talent, talent acquisition, and talent retention. You cannot keep doing what you're doing
and having the success that you want, unless you can actually retain people. And the only
way to retain people is to actually have a sense of culture and identity and shared value.
Travis, let's cover company culture, and what emerging media can do for not only
promoting the company's brand and culture, but you mentioned talent acquisition, and
even possibly sales, even though it can be a really hard way to attribute that to actual
Travis Hawley 37:57
Yeah, so that's the thing is, one of the problems we have is that most companies now don't
even have an identity, especially in this remote culture. Most companies might have 95% of
their company working all throughout the nation or the world. So it's like, how do we even
— before we can even promote our identity and our culture and our values, those needs to
be established. But it's really hard when most of our interactions are on Slack, or they're on
pods and Zoom.
So at the end of the day, how are we actually forming a company culture in this current post
kind of COVID world where most companies are moving to remote? That's first and
foremost, is really identifying that. Before we can capture the content that needs to actually
exist. And the thing that's important, too, it needs to have some unanimity to it, where
people actually feel what the culture is, in the same way, in all aspects of the company in all
departments. Where's the connective tissue between the culture? Who's doing that? Is it
HR? Is it the leaders in C-suite, is it SMEs, like, who is actually pushing the company
culture? And sometimes that's just the people who are most vocal, and that could be good
or bad. So that's a whole other thing.
But when it comes to the value of emerging media, for company culture, and stuff like that,
to me it actually starts with talent acquisition and talent retention, because sales and thus
revenue is the oxygen of the brand. We need that, let's not say that we don't. But at the end
of the day, we need to get more talented people. We're competing against all the other
cybersecurity companies that are trying to give the most incentives to hire the best talent
out there. And we need to retain the employees we have now because whatever success
level you're at now, that has been achieved through the talent you have right now. So how
are you going to keep them?
One of the ways is to have a really clear and powerful culture that people feel like they want
to be behind this brand. They want to stick with the company. There's a lot of things,
incentives and bonuses, your salary, all that stuff, but really how do people feel? That is
how you're going to retain people as people feel like they're part of something larger, they
feel like they are actually contributing to the company in a meaningful way.
If you can create that type of culture, then it's really important that you capture that for
talent acquisition purposes. So when you're making content, whether it's TikTok, or any
type of other video content, we really want to show what it's like to be at the company in an
authentic way. Don't just curate some experience that's fake, because this is just some sort
of PR push to get talent. Show what it's really — and the reason why you want to show
what it's really like — is because talent retention depends on it. No one wants buyer's
remorse. You join a company and you saw their social media, and it looked fun and
amazing. And they appreciate people of all backgrounds, and wow, they're doing all these
off-sites and stuff. And then you go, then you're like, “Oh, this is BS, this isn't what it's really
like. I'm out, peace.”
So that's another reason why you need to be authentic. Because if you're authentic, then
you're only going to attract the people that you really want to attract anyways. Because if
you're creating this type of face of the company, you want people to join because they like
those values, they like that type of brand. So that's one of the values of defining and then
developing content and posting content of your authentic culture.
Nailed it, Travis. And hopefully, we'll all go back to the office in some sort of way, whether
it's hybrid or not. And we'll be able to interact together in a way we can create those
moments that we can capture, and then from all as part of culture and brand.
So Travis, three or two quick things before we get to our game. One, your point about
culture is so true. We just recently — I just had added a new hire to my team at Virtero. And
the reason we won against other bigger, better funded — not better, but just bigger — and
more funded competitors is because of our culture and because of the culture and how I
shared it with the new hire. So culture is incredibly important.
Point two — so there's three points. Point two: at Virtero, too, we have a retention of talent
KPI. So when you're saying retention is really important. Yes, it's so important that even we
have a KPI for it.
The last thing we wanted to ask you, Travis, before we get to our game, is about your meme
pages. Were there any that, because I was around in the 2010-2011s and heavily online on
Facebook, are there any that I would recognize?
Travis Hawley 42:21
I don’t think so? I don't know. So I'll just tell you what the names of them are. So actually,
the first page I made on Facebook 2012, I actually made that page on my way to
Afghanistan. I was deployed to Afghanistan, and I'm in my bunk bed, waiting to hit the plane
in the next couple days or something. And I don't know why, I don't know where this came
from, I just saw like meme pages and stuff like that back then. And I was like, “I can do
better than that.” I don't know why I thought that. I just thought I could do better than that
both in the curation and the creation of memes. So I made a page. Sounds silly to this day.
It's called Hawlarious Humor. And it's just “haw” like my last name, Hawlarious Humor. I made a page on Facebook. That has been since rebranded many years ago with a page called Laugh and Inspire. So that page has like half a million followers or something on Facebook and Instagram.
But honestly, I'll tell you, the page I love the most that maybe people will recognize and
marketers should follow, just selfless promotion here, it's called Introverts R Us. Introverts
R Us. I have, I think one of, or if not the first or the biggest, I don't know, introvert community in the world. And I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it's digital. So introverts love to connect online. So Introverts R Us has 300-something-1000 followers on Instagram and 40,000 followers in a Facebook group. It's actually really huge and I love it. So the Introverts R Us one is one that you might recognize. There's, what's super cool is tons of celebrities, like tons of famous people follow all three of my meme pages. And that was one of the coolest things is making an impact and growing communities online is probably one of my biggest talents and passions. And what's really cool is just the people you get to connect to, of course, the average people like us, but then like, you start seeing celebrities and influencers and professional athletes and movie stars and singers and they're like following your page. I even just had a famous congressperson follow me yesterday and I was like, “What the hell? This is crazy!” What people don't realize is, when someone follows you, you can DM them, and they're gonna see it. If you, if they don't follow you and you DM them, it goes to like a spam folder or a request folder, but if they follow you, you can start messaging with famous people and I've done it. I've talked to a lot of the craziest famous people and I'm like, “Wow, this is so powerful.”
But of course that's more of a vanity thing. What's most important to me is growing
communities online and Introverts R Us is my, probably most famous one, and then the
third main page I have is called Jiu Jitsu Saved My Life. I trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for about
10 years. So jujitsu is a big part of my life and a big passion too. So all three of my pages,
Laugh and Inspire, Inspiration and Humor, Introverts R Us being an introvert and trying to
grow an introvert community, and Jiu Jitsu Saved My Life. Those are my passions, so that's
why I built communities around my passion.
Okay, because I knew that was missing from your intro. In my head I was like, “Oh, and he
does like jiu jitsu I think? Or like karate or something?” But you didn't say it at the beginning, that was part of the crazy adventure of Travis, how he got to cybersecurity marketing. He did jiu jitsu against someone who was a cybersecurity marketer and beat the
shit out of them!
Yeah and knocked the other candidates out of the running.
Yeah, exactly. That was missing. Okay, thank you, because I thought I was going a little crazy
Travis Hawley 45:21
Someone actually told me jiu jitsu is popular in cybersecurity. I don't know if that's true or
not, but someone told me, I don't know.
Is it like cybers jitsu groups or…?
Travis Hawley 45:32
No, not that. Actually I don't know why. But honestly, something I have noticed is a lot of
people who do martial arts in general and Brazilian jiu jitsu actually tend to be introverted.
And I do think disproportionately cybersecurity and cybersecurity marketers are
disproportionately introverted from my vantage point. I don't have any empirical evidence on that but I think that's true. Those are just correlations, it's not causation at all.
It's causation. Also, I take offense to you calling us all average in comparison to the celebrities in your DMs. Maria and you are above average, and I'm below average. Thank you very much.
We're also celebrities who are big celebrities.
Yeah, all three of us.
Travis Hawley 46:09
I'll tell you this, I'll tell you this, Hacker Valley Media and all the great stuff they're putting out, everyone's becoming celebrities in cybersecurity. I'll tell you though, everyone really loves and appreciates the content out there. So kudos to you and everyone else behind the scenes. You guys are making great stuff. So I hope you guys become celebrities.
Thank you and then we'll follow you and then you can DM us and then we'll be like, “Travis
Brutal! Alright, let's play. We'll play our game real quick because we're getting low on time
here. Travis, this is the game where we think about what you would do if you were not in
cybersecurity marketing slash in the military slash doing Brazilian jiu jitsu slash influencer
agency stuff. So we're gonna guess what your other career would be if you had to redo it
over and also couldn't do any of those things.
Travis Hawley 46:53
You guys are gonna guess?
Yeah, we're gonna guess and then you can tell us how miserably we failed at figuring it out.
No, no, then you're gonna tell us, “Gianna, you did great and you win another gold star and
here's $10.” I'm gonna money thing this one —
Travis Hawley 47:07
Am I choosing a winner? Like who chooses a better one or something?
Yeah, you're gonna choose a winner. So figure out which of us that you like more. I think you
would be obviously a TV personality. Does that count or is that off the — does that not count? Maria, what do you think?
Travis Hawley 47:22
I think that counts. Yeah.
Yeah that counts. You stole my idea.
Travis Hawley 47:27
There’s news, there's acting.
Alright your turn!
You stole my idea, Gianna. You're no longer going first. That's it, I make that rule. I was
gonna say a TV talk show host.
Travis Hawley 47:38
Okay, do you know what's funny about that? So I would say yeah, you're both right, in a way.
But here's what's interesting. And people don't believe — again, I get so much pushback, it's
crazy. People say, “I don't believe you're an introvert. Because you're well spoken, you're
articulate, you do well on camera and stuff like this.” This is a skill that I've developed. This
isn't naturally who I am. And this is also only who I am when I'm talking about things I'm
passionate about. If we're talking about something I wasn't passionate about or experienced about, I'd be like, the most boring person ever, trust me. People who know me know, I'm actually relatively pretty quiet.
So that's what some people think, like, “Well you’d be a media personality or podcast or
something like that.” And you think, “Oh, if you want to generalize, that's not something an
introvert would do.” Trust me, plenty of introverts are in media. They're in TV, they're movie stars, or singers or all these things. The difference is when you're doing something
you're passionate about, whether it's an instrument, or a movie, or a conversation about a
specific topic, you can just really be yourself, your authentic self and be — talk really
passionate about thing. So that's my way of saying, I definitely think you're both right, it
could happen. If it's something that I really care about, and I'm passionate about, I could
definitely make that happen. But if I was just plugged into something I didn't really care
about, I would not want to be in media or TV or anything like that.
That's it. We're recruiting you for the Society's first-ever TV show, which is not here yet. But
we're probably going that route. I don't know.
It's about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
We’ll be calling you.
Thank you so much, Travis, for being on the show. Thank you for bringing your introvert
self to our podcast and amping it up. Where can people find you if you're open to being
connected and contacted?
Travis Hawley 49:15
Yeah, especially marketers and people in cybersecurity just hit me up on LinkedIn. Travis
Hawley, you can connect with me there. I also if you're interested in like social media
Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing with Gianna Whitver & Maria Valesquez
B2B Cybersecurity Marketing Tactics with Travis Hawley
strategy and those types of things as well, I post every day on LinkedIn and Twitter. You can
find me on Twitter. I think it's @TravHawley or if that's why you want to connect with me
professionally isn't LinkedIn or Twitter, but if you like memes, hit up Introverts R Us, Laugh
and Inspire, or Jiu Jitsu Saved My Life on any channel. They're just bigger on Instagram or
Love it. Thank you so much, Travis. Thanks for breaking the caster today with your passion
and your advice and your advice. We loved every minute of it. I don't know if you heard us
make the joke that we have to make at least 20 to 30 snippets from this episode or Travis is
gonna yell at us because it was so good.
Travis Hawley 50:03
I'm counting on it. Macro to micro.
That's it macro to micro, faces and voices. I've got it stuck in my head now. So if you want to
be on Breaking Through and Cybersecurity Marketing or if you have feedback for us you
want to hear us talk about a topic you want Gianna to stop talking about money so much
over the last few episodes? Maybe you don't like how funny the show is? Why don't you
send an email to podcasts within an S at hackervalley.com. Hit us up on LinkedIn or see us
live at Cyber Marketing Con 2022 which will be in Arlington, Virginia, which is technically
DC so I'm gonna say DC. It's in DC from November 16th through 18th of this year. Get your
tickets at cybersecuritymarketingsociety.com See you next Wednesday. Leave us a six-star
review and tell all your friends.
Thanks for joining!