June 29, 2022
by Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing
Sherry Lowe, CMO of Exabeam, joins us this week to talk about marketing strategies during the pandemic as well as representing women in the male-dominated industries of tech and cybersecurity. With CMO experience at Druva, Expanse, and Exabeam, Sherry explains how her encounters with sexism in the cyber industry inspired her to pursue high-level management and board opportunities, including her work with FirstBoard.io, and how she’s pivoted to focus on digital marketing during the uncertainty of COVID-19.
[01:55] Witnessing changes in cybersecurity marketing tactics and practices as the online and digital world continues to influence our audiences
[04:11] Shifting away from events-based marketing budgets during the COVID-19 pandemic and embracing more digital cyber marketing opportunities
[08:29] Changing her strategies and altering her marketing budget when joining Exabeam as the CMO, especially considering the timing for the pandemic
[15:17] Acknowledging progress being made for women in cyber, while also keeping in mind the impact of the pandemic and the economy on mothers working in tech
[20:18] Dealing with sexism and toxicity in the workplace, especially in male-dominated industries, and advocating for more women in marketing and in leadership
How has cybersecurity marketing changed from when you started?
With a storied career both behind and ahead of Sherry, we were excited to ask her about what she’s seen change the most since beginning her career in the cyber industry. Her answer? An increased focus on digital marketing and online content. When Sherry started, websites were not the focus for many cyber companies, versus today where websites are a hugely influential part of the marketing team’s job and generates the best leads for the majority of cyber and tech companies.
“A really huge shift that I've seen over the years is just how powerful driving prospects to your website is. To interact on the website, not just to land on it and read something, but to actually do something there. Those conversion rates are going to end up being really some of the best leads that you ever see.”
Can you pinpoint any specific changes that happened at Exabeam and in cyber marketing, specifically around the pandemic?
Although cyber marketing has changed in leaps and bounds since Sherry became a part of the industry, the pandemic brought a huge shift in the marketing perspective and the marketing budget for cyber marketing and for Exabeam. Joining Exabeam during the pandemic, Sherry was admittedly horrified to realize that a large majority of their budget, nearly 80%, was focused on marketing at in-person events. With the pandemic making travel restricted and group gatherings nearly impossible, Sherry quickly pivoted their efforts and their budget to digital marketing, striving to engage customers online and continue to innovate their outreach beyond what it would be in an event setting or at large gatherings.
“Cyber security marketing loves the trade show. They love the big box trade show, and it was a forced shift for the cybersecurity industry because COVID changed all of that. If you were not a digital-first marketing organization when COVID hit, you had to do that shift so quickly.”
What's the mission of FirstBoard.io, and what ceilings are you trying to break?
We’ve accomplished so much in the cyber world, continuing to bridge the gap between where men and women are represented in the industry. However, Sherry points out that a large majority of company boards fail to provide strong opportunities for women in cyber and in tech. Hoping to give more women the opportunity to serve on their first boards and get a start in leadership in the industry, Sherry became a founding member of FirstBoard.io.
“Right now, women are just not as represented as men on boards…and there's a tendency to keep using the same women on boards. So, we're trying to expand it, so that opportunities go beyond just the same four or five women.”
Do you have any advice that you could share with people listening today about workplace toxicity and sexism?
There’s thankfully a lot of emphasis around creating safe work environments for any company, but especially in cyber these days. Unfortunately, Sherry has seen the reality of what it’s like to experience unsafe work environments first-hand. After being harassed on more than one occasion by a male coworker, Sherry spoke up and had to cope with the consequences of doing so, losing friends and leaving her job after doing so. As difficult as this situation was, Sherry is thankful for the realization that brought her: she could be a CMO, she could be a leader in cyber, and she could build a safer environment for the women that worked with her.
“Everyone always says, ‘If you see something, say something,’ but what they don't tell you is the sentence that comes after that: ‘But prepare for the consequences of saying something.’ That's the sentence they forget to say after that, and you have to weigh that for yourself.”
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