Sky Kennedy, Video Storyteller and Content Creator at Studio Sky, joins us to talk about her expertise— video! Inspired to become part of the cyber world after her work with Cylance, Sky loves teaching the cybersecurity industry about the amazing stories we can tell through videos. Whether you’re a one-person cyber marketing team on a shoestring budget or a corporate marketer looking for your next project, Sky shares the tips and tools marketers need to use video content to connect with their audience.
[00:00] Sky’s history and background in cyber with Cylance
[05:52] Video projects at Cylance and their influence on Sky’s work today
[08:50] Customer testimonials and the value of emotional connection in video
[17:09] DIY video content ideas for low budget marketers
[24:53] Video marketing budget breakdowns for cybersecurity teams
In your opinion, what makes a good customer testimonial video?
Testimonials can feel repetitive and disingenuous when customers repeat what a company already says about themselves. “You’ve got a great cybersecurity solution,” is nice to hear, but Sky believes that the value of a good testimonial is in the connection a customer feels to the organization. When a customer is willing to explain how the organization helped them behind-the-scenes, connected with them after their product was purchased, and solved their problems beyond the surface-level solution, that creates a testimonial that makes an impact.
“The best testimonials, in my opinion, are about how the company and the product and the people are really there for the customer, which engages the whole emotional side.”
What important aspects of video storytelling are critical to making sure your message gets across?
When cybersecurity professionals tell Sky, “I want a video,” the unfortunate reality is that they rarely know what kind of video content they’re looking for. Sky believes in upfront input and understanding with all of her clients. She goes in depth, asks a lot of questions about what they’re looking for, and guides them every step of the way to ensure success. The end goal is to show off the value of this company, of the products and solutions they create, but Sky understands that she needs to know their value inside and out in order to showcase it.
“I’ve created a list of questions about what a customer wants, what their expectations are, how much they want to spend on the project, and what their timeline is all about. I cover the whole issue of what their expectation is for this particular video that we're going to create.”
Can you share some DIY tools for marketers making video content on a shoestring budget?
We’ve interviewed some one-person marketing teams on the podcast before, so we wanted to ask Sky about what low budget video marketing might look like. Sky explained that the videos filmed on smartphones and edited on simple applications can still make an incredible impact. Numerous commercials, viral videos, and even Oscar-nominated films have used smartphone cameras. What matters more is the value of the content from a messaging standpoint. Use your small budget to show off how much you love your organization, not how much you love your new camera.
“My whole goal is to not use cameras. Not because I don't like video cameras, but I am not a camera technician. Cameras cost a lot of money, and they take a lot of effort and energy to learn how to use them.”
What advice do you have for marketers struggling to convince leadership to allocate a part of their budget to video?
While small teams with meager budgets might have to make something out of nothing, marketers with larger teams and larger budgets have to make value out of their video investment. Sky encouraged us to consider how much content can come from just one video. A couple of minutes of well-planned video content can be broken up, edited, and used in many ways. It’s never just a video. Instead, it’s numerous marketing assets and an invaluable look at the behind-the-scenes of what your organization does and how you can differentiate yourselves from your cybersecurity competitors.
“We can take that video, we can cut it up, and we can use it in a variety of different ways. So, that $5,000 investment, when we amortize over 20 or 30 elements that we're using it in, ends up being only a couple hundred dollars per element.”
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Catch up with Maria on LinkedIn.
Welcome to the Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing podcast.
Where we explore the hottest topics in cyber marketing.
And help you become a better cybersecurity marketer
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another supercalifragilistic episode of Breaking Through in
Cybersecurity Marketing. I had to say supercalifragilistic instead of awesome because my mother noticed that I say awesome way too much on podcasts. I'm one of your hosts, Gianna Whitver, with my amazing co-host.
And we are so excited today to have Sky Kennedy here with us. Sky is a video storyteller and a video content creator at Studio Sky, and she's also one of, I'd probably say the original Cylance crew. Would you say that's right, Sky?
Yes. One of them. Yes.
Oh yeah. Don't worry, we didn't say you were the only crew. One of the original Cylancers in the Cylance group, so she has a storied history in cybersecurity video. We're super excited to have her on to discuss video content creation, video strategy, and everything video cybersecurity marketing. Thanks for being on, Sky.
Thank you very much for having me.
Sky, first of all, we're so glad you're here. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us and giving us all of your amazing secret sauces. We want to know about you. Tell us about your story, your journey in cybersecurity marketing.
I am what I call a schooled graphic designer. I went to college, studied graphic design, and have worked in the graphic design world all of my career, around advertising agencies, design firms, marketing companies, public relations firms. Before I got into cybersecurity, I was a long-time employee working in the financial insurance industry and thought that was where I was going to retire and life was going to end there, but through an unfortunate sequence of events, I was laid off with a number of other people. I ended up hunting for a job and got a call from a recruiter who was helping Cylance find graphic designers and went to work at Cylance. It was a one-day project, and it ended up turning into almost five years.
It's like I tell everybody, and this is not to blow smoke. Cylance was a magical job. And the reason it was so magical is because there was just so many amazing people who work there, and it wasn't just in one part of the business or the other. It was in every aspect of the business. I loved going to lunch because I'd get the opportunity to really find out what cybersecurity was all about, I had no idea when I started. They had some amazing scientists, amazing engineers, amazing ethical hackers, amazing pen testers. We would all, almost every day, sit around tables and they would tell me what was going on at the company, what each one of their individual jobs was. To me, it was like going to school and being at recess, all at the same time. It was just so much fun.
People will say, "Well, there were some not so great things at Cylance." Yes, but I will tell you in all of my career, and we can all relate to this. You know, we get up in the morning, we get in the car, we go to work, we do our job, and we come home. When I worked at Cylance, it was so much fun to drive in, to get there, to say hi to all these people, to be around all these people, have coffee with these people. It was like no experience I've had before in my employment career. One thing that was very interesting, because I'm a big-time researcher, when you take a look at what's going on in the cybersecurity industry, which really, I consider a community, it's like my experience at Cylance. There are all these just wonderful people who are really ready to give you their knowledge, their expertise, their understanding, and help you. I mean, the people that are out there to help you are just amazing. That's what really has attracted me to working and helping, it's far more helping than working I call it, in the
cybersecurity industry and kind of making it my benchmark, I would say, is to work in and around the industry because I have a graphics background and a video background, I work in and around the marketing element of the cybersecurity industry.
Hear that? Every marketer who's listening who's not in cybersecurity yet. Come on over, join our side, come and join. Cybersecurity, if you've listened to our podcasts, you of course don't think this, but you might feel like, "Oh, it's too technical for me. Oh, I'm afraid, I'm used to marketing CBG or easier solutions, quote, unquote, easier things." No, come and join us. Come and join us. We need the people, and we want you to come market for us, for our companies.
Get yourself a hoodie and join the dark side. What an amazing story, you made me want to work at Cylance, that's amazing. I had this question actually reserved for you for later, but let's jump into it right now. What are some cool video projects you worked on at Cylance that you'd want to tell us about?
So, I worked in a crew of— Well, okay, so, Cylance became part of Blackberry, and then inevitably became Blackberry. But while it was Cylance, for almost all of the time I was there, I worked in a crew of three people. One of those people that was there, his name is Casey. He was just, oh, my gosh, he taught me everything I know. I mean, he's like the Bible of video creation, he worked three-dimensional animation, things that you have to have some amazing technical background to really work around. And so, most of the work that I did was around explainer videos, and around customer testimonials, and then creating a lot of animation for our trade shows in our conferences.
In working those projects, I got to work with a whole variety of people, especially in and around the sales engineers. I want to give a long shout out to sales engineers, they are the most amazing people. They're not just salespeople, and they're not just engineers, but from a person who works in video content and really understands the emotional element of video, what's the hook, what our content is about, that is a sales engineer. They go out and they have all kinds of knowledge to really sit down with a client, and understand what a client is really looking for. And then, they can bring that knowledge back, sit down with a person like myself, and we can help create a video around that. That was kind of the gist of my experience at Cylance.
Love that. SEs are total marketers still, if they don't say it out front, deep inside, they know they're marketers, right? And they love working with marketing teams.
Oh, my gosh, love them.
So, I love that you worked on customer testimonials. I mean, I think for a lot of us in cybersecurity marketing, not only is it a big pain point, because half of our customers don't want to go on the record and save what they're using for security. But for the ones that can get customers now, in this remote work, it's really hard to get a good customer testimonial video, because everyone's working from home. In your opinion, what makes a good testimonial video?
It's almost ironic. I have a longtime friend who works, I won't give him away totally, but I will just say he's a C-level executive at a major health care company. They had a horrible, horrible attack, ransomware, ran across the whole company, which is worldwide, it's not just in one spot. One of their operational people had heard about Cylance, and they had Cylance come in and give them the spiel about what's going on and how they can help them. Cylance inevitably got in there and began to help them. My friend was able to sit down with us and really come from— and this is where I really like customer testimonials. He was able to really come from the emotional side, how it really hit on what was going on with him and the people within the organization.
It wasn't so much about, "Oh, you've got this great product. You've got these great services." It was more about how the product helped him help the organization, came to the solutions, and then all of the behind-the-scenes, what Cylance was doing to help them day by day, to not only never have those types of attacks again, but really kind of help them through this process. It was really heartfelt you know? I could really get into that whole issue of how a product could really reach far more than just, "Okay, I'm going to help you not have ransomware anymore, I'm going to help you with this problem. We're going to give you that solution, and then you go away." In the testimonials that we were doing, there were a lot of people that just talked about the product. And that was it, goodbye. But the best testimonials, in my opinion, are how the company and the product and the people are really there for
the other person, the whole emotional side.
I love that idea. I think a lot of times we get buried in the technical details and wanting to show off like, "Oh, this was the challenge. This was the solution and the outcome." But how did it make that person feel? Whether that person or the team that's actually the end users on your product. That's so important.
What it's really important is for customer retention, and then having the customer get involved with newer products and newer solutions that create bigger sales and make people feel very comfortable. When you go out there and spend 50, 100, 300, $500,000, the last thing you want to think about is spending more money. The issue of making people feel comfortable and solving their problems, not just the organization's problems, will really help in the longer run make those further sales.
You can even extend it. I'm just spit balling here, but in the case of a health care organization, you came in and served the emotional needs of the direct ICP, the security folks, because obviously, they're probably stressed, scared, sleep-deprived, all those things, worried about their job, worried about being fired, worried about all sorts of things during a ransomware attack, and then, their customers too. A ransomware attacks? Does that take down the healthcare data of all of our customers and all the clients that we work with? So, the emotional needs of both the ICP, you talked about the org, which is all about protecting the data and all that, but then, how does what we do affect the people around and the people that are our customer's customers?
Yes, and it's so critical because we have seen this and we know this. Just because we have a name, or a title, Manager or Chief Executive Officer, it doesn't mean that much because we're all a team. I don't mean to downplay, but the person who's making the coffee in the morning to the person who's making the decisions of the organization, and all the people that are in-between, each one of our jobs has an effect to each other. Without all of those people, we're really nothing. And then, when we get into the whole solution, in this case, cybersecurity, it is: How does that solution affect everyone?
Yeah, absolutely. So, we have established that emotion is a really important aspect of video
storytelling. What are other important aspects of video storytelling are critical to making sure your message gets across?
So, everybody will talk about, "Oh, I went to this great production house and they did this wonderful video. We're going to take that video, and we're going to put it on YouTube, we're going to put it on the various social channels." But the biggest part of what, at least I try to do, is I try to get the customer or the client really involved with what they want. Because so many times, people will say to me, "Well, I don't know what I want." So, what I've done is I've created a list of questions about what a customer wants, what their expectations are, how much they want to spend on the project, what their timeline is all about. The whole issue of what their expectation is for this particular video that we're going to create. A lot of times, when we do that, then we start getting inside of the marketing strategy. Not that I want to be a marketing strategist, that's not my job, but it's to understand the company has a product, it's got a
service, it's got a value, and we want to portray that.
What is the best way to portray that? The upfront input, the upfront understanding to me is so critical because that way, then we can set the foundation of what the video is going to be and everybody has an understanding as we go along. "This is what's going to happen at A, B, C, and D." I just really feel, or really would like to encourage people, because I've been in plenty of meetings where senior managers and vice presidents have no clue what to do. We kind of tried to be the mind readers, and we say, "Okay, well, this is what we think you want to do." And then we spend a couple of weeks doing it, and that's not what they want. So, to me, the most important part of a video is: What do people really want? What are their expectations?
That's a good point. It's funny, because in my budget, I have a line item called video. And then, it's like one every quarter, and— What does that mean, right? Is that a product video? Is that an explainer video? Is that a case study video? Right now, depending on where we are in our marketing plan, and what we're doing in marketing, it's flexible, but to go to someone who produces video and say, "I want a video and I want it to be around this," you gotta go in with a plan.
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."
Sky, I have a question for the smaller audiences who are listening, the one-person marketing teams. What are some ways that we can do video without engaging with a third party or a vendor or an agency? Can you share some DIY tools that marketers can use today to make some decent video content on a, quote unquote, shoestring budget?
Sure. So, one of the things that people say to me is, when I say I'm a video content creator, their immediate reaction is: Where's your camera? With video today, we don't need a camera. My whole goal is to not use cameras, not because I don't like video cameras, but I am not a camera technician. There are great people who have cameras out there, and they can do fantastic things. Cameras cost a lot of money, and they take a lot of effort and energy to learn how to use them. In my opinion, the best videos, and the most impactful videos, are at-the-second videos. How do you create an at-the-second video with a cell phone? There are a number of Academy Award-nominated picture films, really they're videos, that have now been shot with iPhones. And almost all of us now have some form of a cell phone with a camera. It's so easy to go up to a person without a script and just ask the question: How are you doing today? And then, you do 15 or 20 seconds of how you're doing today, you take that information, and then there's a host of apps in the App Store or Google Play that are free, that anyone can download and quickly edit that "how are you doing" video. This is all within an hour, and you'll have it ready to post on a social media site.
Now, we have to take a look at what does "free" mean. But that's not spending money with a third party like myself. It's basically taking your effort and your energy to shoot it a small 15 or 30 second video, and within five or 10 minutes, have it posted onto social media. The whole issue of video today is, going back to what I initially was talking about, what do you really want? What is your idea for this video? If it's no more than taking your camera, and walking around the office and saying, "This is where I work, I love these people. Cybersecurity company." That, to me is a great video, not because it has great video content in it, but it's showing people in an environment that you, the person taking the video, loves and appreciates. I am telling you, people eat that stuff up. They eat the emotional stuff up. I know we got a little bit off track here, but to take your camera on your cell phone, use it wherever you would like to, you can get around a pen tester and shoot a screen for 30 seconds or a minute, or even two minutes, as that pen tester shows what they're doing. Maybe have a few questions worked out, shoot that video, again, you're not getting a person like myself involved, and then, putting that up on social media so people can see what a pen tester is doing. What is a pen tester all about? We see the term pen tester, we know that word is part of cybersecurity, but we really don't understand what it is. A great way to engage an audience is to let people know what the heck is going on at your company.
I think this is a great point that you're making, in engaging the technical folks at your company in video because when we did our 2021 State of Cybersecurity Marketing survey and report, which everyone can still get on our website, in case you're interested. One of the things that arose, one of the quotes from that report that came out was something like, "Some of the best marketing we can do is shining a light on our people," right? Making our SMEs thought leaders or showing off what they're doing, because they are the technical folks working on the technical things and making the product, building the thing, helping the people, working with customers. So, like you said, doing a little 15-second or 30-second video, just showing off some of your people is a great way to intro into your own video marketing.
There's a type of video that people either don't know about, or it's too much of a hassle. It's called a web series. A great web series would be what goes on inside of the closed doors. You sit down with a salesperson or a sales engineer, a scientist, an engineer, a customer success person, and get that out into social media. So, people are seeing what's going on. People love that stuff. They love it. I mean, because nobody knows really what goes on behind closed doors. I mean, just because a company says, "I'm cybersecurity," and they may do things that are similar but different to other companies. That kind of video humanizes what your company is. That really, I think, is something that's lost in what's going on out there today because there's so much being said about Microsoft, everybody's trying to get around Microsoft. Well, Microsoft is a brand name that everybody knows and whether they do good products or bad products, people buy their product just from brand recognition. So, how can people say, "Well, I have stuff just like Microsoft," you can't. So, to get involved with letting people in the outside world know what's going on inside of your company, it's a great way to engage an audience.
There's a reason that there's a hashtag on Instagram and probably TikTok now, I'm not on TikTok, so I don't know, but #BTS and we're not talking about the Kpop band. We're saying behind-the-scenes, fun content from the Grammys and the Oscars, things like that. People love that stuff.
Oh my gosh. And because of the pandemic, and I'm not trying to blame the pandemic on anything, but in reality, we're sitting at home most of the time. We don't really know what's going on. We've turned to the internet, and there is so much information. Information overload, just like burnout, it is really a real thing. So, how can you differentiate yourself from everybody else? That's a critical factor in video because there's so many great videos out there. But how can you differentiate yourself? Letting people know what's going on in your organization is a big way to do that.
Absolutely. You took us through some ideas on how to do this on a shoestring budget, but let's say a team has a little bit of budget, but they're struggling to convince leadership to allocate a chunk of that to video marketing. What is some advice that you have for us marketers that are going through that?
So, there's an organization out there called Wyzowl, it's wise owl. And part of my job is doing research out there, not just what's going on, but what's best for organizations. One of the things that I really like about Wyzowl is that they really don't, and you can say this about any company, they really don't let their egos get involved, they just go out and they do all kinds of different surveys and talk to people about how video is impacting their organization, you know, what's it doing for you. If I'm going to expend $1 into something, then I want to make sure that I get that dollar in return in the bottom line and some kind of revenue. They have really put together some great research, and they've got statistics coming out the wazoo, but they've done some great research on why organizations should use video.
The big thing about organizations and video is that it's too expensive, and it takes too much time. That
isn't true at all, we just talked about the types of videos, not all types, but some types of videos that people can do for free, and get them out right away. A lot of people just think of video as a camera that we have to put all of this information together, and it's going to take me weeks to put it together, and then, when we finally put it together, we've lost that audience, they're moving on to something else. But in a marketing strategy, whether you're at Coca Cola, or whether you are a two-person cybersecurity operation, to sit down and really understand what you're looking for, what you're trying to portray with that message, or that story that you're putting out into the video is really key, I think, to be able to sell the management level or the C level in your organization and to really understand how valuable video can be. Video is easy.
A lot of people will say, "Oh, well, I want to do a product video, but that's not going to really help people understand what the company is," that's not true. Because what we can do with that product video is we can weave in the company with that. The video is long enough in one to two minutes, where we can actually cut that video in different points and make little snackable bite size elements to go into social media. So, people get to see 15 seconds of it and then you can drive them to a website or drive them to a YouTube page, and let them see the rest of the video. So, you can create a video with one budget, let's just use $5,000 as a number, and say, "Okay, in that two minutes, I'm going to have not only the product, but the people and the company, and then solutions of what we're doing here." And then, we can take that video, we can cut it up, and we can use it in a variety of different ways. So, that $5,000,
when we amortize it over 20 or 30 elements that we're using it in, ends up being a couple hundred dollars per element. So, a lot of people will take a look and say, "Hey, I know it's gonna cost me $5,000 and gee, that just doesn't make sense to me." But when we take a look at that investment of $5,000, and we can again, amortize it over a variety of different ways we can use that video, it makes that investment to a small company look very worthwhile.
That makes so much sense. I think if you come off the bat, when you're building the strategy for that video, with this idea, you can build the script based upon the fact that you are going to cut it up later. So, the script makes sense and you can easily cut it up, right?
Yes, exactly. Exactly. That's all in the idea/planning stage. What do you really want here? And so many people get lost in— This is not to put anybody down, but so many people get lost in the Hollywood thing. "Oh, wow. I'm gonna do a video." That's a big ego trip and wow, now we have a video. You can't look at it that way. You have to look at it just like you do anything else, text-based content, for instance, and you say to yourself, "Okay, here's what I want the video to do, but I also want to weave in the people in that. I also want to weave in the company in that. I also want to weave in the solution in that." And that way, we can have a really good picture of what that end video is going to be, rather than saying, "Okay, now we're at the rough-cut stage, where we're about two thirds of the way through, and I don't like this because it's not saying enough to the organization."
Great points. So, Sky, I think we're at our part of the episode where we're going to play our game. Don't be worried because it's a fun game. What we're gonna do is we're gonna guess what, if you were not in your role that you are right now, which is a video person, a video production person, or a graphic designer also counts, too. If you're not in this role, what would you be doing? So, I'm going to go first to give myself a leg up and to beat Maria yet again. So, Sky, I think that you explain things really well, you bring forward this emotion in this area that most people think of as technical, which is cybersecurity and video and you don't get lost in the sauce. You're talking about the emotions and everything. I think you'd be a historian or an archaeologist, like, someone who can talk about these concepts, but also bring a story to life, in regards to the past.
Yes, that's an interesting point that you bring up. I consider myself a quasi-historian, and I say quasi, because I don't say to myself, "Oh, I'm a historian, I know these things." But I love history, and there's so much history in everything that we do. We get so lost and going from here to there, but in that realm of here to there, all of that different color, the various shades of gray, there's history in it and people don't really like to think about that stuff. But being a researcher, I have to look at histories of whatever I'm doing, what brought us to this point, and that's something that, if I had all the money in the world, I would love to do far more and to really spend time with history. I'd really like to spend time in history of art and concepts of art because there's just so many things going on. You go to a museum, you see a very famous picture, and you can look at it for a while and see what other people see in it, but then you
go away, and you saw this famous picture. To really understand the depth of the picture, you have to understand the history and that to me, it's one of the things that really, I was intrigued by at Cylance, because they were in as much of the history about what's going on in the cybersecurity world, as anybody I've spoken with. It wasn't just one person was into the history, it was so many people really were there, they understood what was going on, and they really wanted to make a product or products that were far superior to what was going on in their day in the marketplace. The only way they could do it was to understand the history of what cybersecurity is and where it came from. It was just wonderful.
Well, Gianna takes the bag yet again.
Well, you didn't even guess yet, Maria?
Right. So, let me make my guess. So, I was actually going to say that you would be a therapist because just hearing the way you talked about that human connection that you had with your colleagues at Cylance, and it seems as though you are a really good listener, and of course, a good storyteller. I think those are all really good aspects of a therapist. So, please tell me I won.
It's very fascinating that you say that because at the job that I was at before Cylance, my kids were grown and out of the house, and I decided that I was going to do something else. I had worked in the graphics field for many years. At that time, Adobe came up with this new software that allowed graphics people to create mobile applications for both the iOS and the Android OS, and I was also looking into going to graduate school to be a therapist.
I think that means that Maria is disqualified because Sky was planning to be a therapist.
Well, it was it was in a plan, but then this technology came up and I got so engrossed with the
technology. That's what led me into video.
Ah, see, I think I win this one, Gianna, don't even fight it.
Sky, who's the winner? She's gonna say both. Okay, cool. I'll give you this one Maria, and if anyone disagrees with this outcome feel free to send Maria a note that Gianna should have won that point at Podcasts@HackerValley.com. Alright, Sky, thank you so much for being on the show. Where can people learn more about you or contact you?
So, if you go to StudioSkyVideo.com, that's my website and people can get me there. Or, if you write to Sky Kennedy@StudioSkyVideo.com, you can email me anytime.
Awesome. We'll also include that in the show notes for anyone who wants to reach out. Thank you again for being on our episode, and thank you, listeners, for listening to another episode of Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing. If you want to be a guest on the show, include that in your hate mail to Podcasts@HackerValley.com, and also subscribe, like, leave us a review, a good review, and give us some feedback on the show. What do you like? Who do you want to see on? We'll catch you next Wednesday. Same time, same place.
Thanks for listening.
Thank you so much for the opportunity. Great to speak with both of you