October 6, 2022

Beers, Tears, & Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing with Gianna Whitver & Maria Velasquez

by Hacker Valley Studio

Show Notes

In this special episode, Hacker Valley community members and hosts of the Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing podcast, Gianna Whitver and Maria Velasquez, tell all about the ups and downs of cyber marketing. As podcast hosts and founders of the Cybersecurity Marketing Society, Gianna and Maria eat, sleep, and breathe cybersecurity marketing. This week, Gianna and Maria share the history behind the Society and explain why they decided to host their CyberMarketingCon2022 conference in person.

 

Timecoded Guide:

[02:41] Creating the Cybersecurity Marketing Society

[06:29] Transitioning CyberMarketingCon2022 from virtual to in-person

[10:50] Combating the difficulty of growth marketing to cybersecurity practitioners

[18:34] Examining ROIs for attendees of conferences like Black Hat and RSA

[28:15] Finding the one thing they would instantly change about cyber marketing

 

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Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and Uptycs for bringing this episode to life!

The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at axonius.com/hackervalley

Uptycs, analytics for the modern attack surface, observability for the modern defender. Check out Uptycs by visiting them at uptycs.com

How did the Cybersecurity Marketing Society come to exist?

Gianna and Maria initially met and bonded over how the cybersecurity marketing world is constantly changing and evolving, for better or worse. They would get together to chat, as well as share strategies and insights. They quickly realized, through their friendship, that there was potential for a solid community in cybersecurity marketing. They started a Slack channel, just to put something out there. The channel grew from 10 participants into a bustling community of over 1500 people. Now, the Society is growing every day and hosting online events.

“It's always really nice to look back at the start, and it humbles you, right? As you continue this hustle of just growth and ongoing things happening, it's nice to take a step back and say, ‘Wow, look at where it all started.’ It seemed like just a crazy idea then.” –Maria Velasquez What inspired the leap to host an in-person conference for CyberMarketingCon?

Back in 2020, while everyone was experiencing the height of the pandemic, members of the Cybersecurity Marketing Society were still interested in making connections with other professionals in the industry. Gianna and Maria decided the best option available was hosting virtual conferences in 2020 and 2021. Later, they branched into in-person chapter meetups in cities around the world. An in-person CyberMarketingCon2022 seemed like the next natural step in the process to cement those community connections.

“We started planning on a spreadsheet, basically. What's the theme? What do we want to cover in terms of topics? We looked to our members within the Society to hear what they'd like to learn at the conference and the speakers they'd like to see.” –Maria Velasquez

 

What makes it so difficult to market to cybersecurity practitioners?

Cybersecurity practitioners are notoriously skeptical. Their purview is full of phishing links and threat actors, and their guards are always up. Practitioners also often have a revolving door of folks wanting them to try demos, which makes it harder for someone to stand out. Maria and Gianna explain that you have to create a different kind of connection to build a relationship with practitioners, and advise marketers to avoid the cringeworthy commercial buzzwords.

“We're here to make sure that together, as an industry, cybersecurity marketers default to the best practices in marketing to practitioners, and that we're not bothering our target audience. We're doing great marketing, so that we can help everyone be more safe.” –Gianna Whitver

 

What did the ROIs look like for attendees of Black Hat and RSA?

In general, according to Gianna and Maria, the return on investment seemed higher for attendees at Black Hat, rather than at RSA. For marketers, RSA is less about selling and more about brand awareness and meeting with investors. In contrast, those who attended Black Hat reported that, even though the quantity of traffic at their booths was lower, the quality of the connections was higher, and there is a lot of optimism about opportunities to connect next year becoming more frequent.

“We're going to keep doing this every year. We're going to keep expanding the survey, we're going to have better data. I'm really looking forward to next year's debrief on Black Hat and RSA, seeing how things changed and how companies perceive their ROI.” –Gianna Whitver

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Links: 

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Transcript

Gianna 0:07
Who says tech can't be human?
Cementing those in-person bonds, we've all been friends and
have talked to each other for the last two plus years in our virtual community. Now it's time to
get together and meet each other and do some awesome networking and education and
learning and sharing in person. Welcome to the Hacker Valley Studio podcast.
Axonius Ad 0:39
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gymnast like me, or in IT, or a security pro, complexity is inevitable. And I've learned that the key to success is focusing on what you can control. Go check out my video at Axonius.com/Simone.
Chris 1:13
What's going on, everybody? You're in the Hacker Valley Studio with your hosts, Ron and Chris.
Ron 1:19
Yes, sir.
Chris 1:22
Welcome back to the show.
Ron 1:25
Glad to be back again. We love dynamic duos. Me and Chris look at ourselves as dynamic duos and we have a dynamic duo guest today. Our guests today are Gianna Whitver and Maria
Velasquez, the co-founders of the Cybersecurity Marketing Society. Gianna is the VP of
Marketing at Vitaro and Maria is the Director of Demand Gen at Net Spy, but when you put them all together, you have the Cybersecurity Marketing Society, and also the Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing podcast. Gianna, Maria, always a pleasure to speak to you all. Welcome to the show.
Gianna 2:07
Oh my gosh.
Maria 2:08
Thanks for having us.
Chris 2:09
We are super excited to have this conversation with you all, you have been a part of our
journeys since the beginning. And I'm sure the same for you all. What is really incredible that
you have built is this community of this brain trust for cybersecurity marketers. It's crazy. First of all, that there wasn't a society or a group that was like this, but you all created it, and it just
exploded. Talk us a little bit through that story of creating the Society and seeing the community build up to what it is today. Let's start with you, Gianna.
Gianna 2:41
Yeah, so, I think the story actually starts when me and Maria met. So she had interviewed at a
company, a cyber company that I was working at, and she didn't start a job at this company, but me and her connected and we stayed in touch. So Maria being the marketing operations
virtuoso that she is, I would ask her questions about marketing operation. And in turn, she would also ask me stuff about the market and we would just chat generally about cybersecurity marketing. Our industry is very specific. It's highly technical, it's constantly changing. So it is sometimes a little bit of a difficult space to navigate. And I was new to cybersecurity marketing at the time. And fast forward, maybe a year or so later, it's like November of 2019, I had quit my job, she had quit her job. And we had both caught up, and just had a conversation, a little bit of nostalgia, like, “Oh, remember how we met? Wasn't it nice that we would talk to each other, even though we worked at different companies, and share information and feedback and data and talk to each other about our strategies and what we were doing?” And we said, “Hey, wouldn't it be great if we could take this peer mentorship that we had created, and formalize it across more than just us? Like, what if we could create a bigger group of voices and people, and we could all share the things that we're seeing?”
And I was at a very small, small company, so I didn't have a lot of marketing peers in my company. What if we could create this network of marketing peers, essentially, who all work in
cybersecurity marketing? Basically, we threw up a Slack group. We threw up a Slack community, Maria and I and our friend Aileen invited 10 people, and it's grown from there, from
10 people in March 2020 to about 1500 people today.
Chris 4:33
What would you add to that, Maria?
Maria 4:35
I remember we started these almost like happy hour calls. We still actually do them every other week. They're called “Cyber Beers and Tears” and basically a happy hour where people either bring their successes and we celebrate with a beer or they bring their — not failures, but venting problems, challenges and we come together with a mutual tear. And I remember the very first one, we had like, six or eight people? And I remember sweating through that not knowing what was going to happen, not knowing how many people were going to show up. And if the people that would show up would think that, you know, this idea is just crazy, or would think of us as inexperienced or not interesting people that would be able to bring other marketing professionals together and actually make an interesting group or an interesting discussion. So I remember that very vividly. And when we finished, we were like, “Whoa, that was crazy. They actually liked the idea!” And 10 people showed up, and we thought that was massive. It's always really nice to look back at the start. And it humbles you, right, as you're, you continue this hustle of just growth and ongoing things happening. It's nice to take a step back and say, “Wow, look at where it all started. It was just a crazy idea.”
Ron 5:57
Take a step back? No, not you two. You lean forward, you actually have a conference coming up in just a bit, it's going to be in November. I'm sure, you know, there was just so much demand in a society, we're in a society. We love it, we see all the exchange. And you started a conference, I would imagine that starting a Slack group is a lot different than creating a conference. But who knows? Maybe they're the same. I would love to hear from you two. What made you take that leap into creating a conference? And how has that been so far?
Gianna 6:29
So, it's been amazing so far, and we are so excited about this upcoming conference. It's going
to be held November 16th through 18th in Arlington, Virginia. We sharpened our swords for the
last two years on virtual conferences. Even early on in the beginning, members of the Society
were craving ways to connect and get together. And that's why when 10 people showed up at
that first Beers and Tears, it was like whoa, and why people still show up today to our virtual
networking events. People are craving community, they want to meet other marketers, they want to network. And so, we had started that first year, we did a virtual conference in 2020. And we had about 100 people attend, people from around the world who were in cybersecurity marketing, specifically who wanted to learn from other cybersecurity marketers. And then last year in 2021, we did it again. And this time, 300 people attended. And so it's been a learning curve to create and launch and host a virtual conference. There's a lot of things that go into it. And it's definitely been a learning curve to create an in-person conference for sure. There's also a lot and even more stuff that goes into having a live event. But our members are asking us for it, they want to do in-person meetups. We launched a series of in-person chapter meetups in cities around the country — Denver, New York, our first one will be this month, and then also Tel Aviv — and the in-person conference is a natural evolution of where we're going. And of cementing those in-person bonds. We've all been friends, and have talked to each other for the last two plus years in our virtual community. Now it's time to get together and meet each other and do some awesome networking and education and learning and sharing in person.
Ron 8:09
Love it. And Maria, talk to us a bit about what all has gone into it, the cheers and the tears part
as well.
Maria 8:18
Definitely a lot of tears, a lot of midnight tears. We started on a spreadsheet, basically. Let's just, let's just talk about what are some of the things, what's the theme? What do we want to cover in terms of programming and topics? Of course, we looked to our members within the Society to hear what they'd like to learn at the conference and the speakers they'd like to see. So we opened up the call for speakers, and it was a massive amount of submissions, which really was amazing to see. And we were very selective. We literally went one by one, understanding whether the topic would bring value, whether it would be interesting. We always love to create programming that is full of data and actual tactics that our members and the community can apply in their jobs. So zero fluff, literally, of marketing topics and strategies and tactics at this conference. The spreadsheet kept growing and the planning and the ideas — we had an amazing interest in people just wanting to help actually, and volunteering right from our members of the Society and saying, “Look, we understand how much undertaking this can be, what can we do to help? We're here. Either we're local to the DC area, send us things to my house if you'd like to keep things or we’ll come a couple days before if you need somebody to help with stuffing the swag bags.” It's just so amazing. I think you say that we're a dynamic duo, but there's an entire village behind us helping us for free of course and then for no strings attached just because they really do like the story and they understand how important it is to build what we're building and they love being a part of it. It's not just Gianna and I. There's a whole entire village behind the scenes helping us.
Chris 10:03
There is a village behind you all. And it's really evident in everything from engagement to
participation in your events. You do these little meetups at conferences, and people are super
excited about it. What's beautiful about what you all have created is you're really creating an
incubator for growth in the marketing field within cybersecurity. Where do you hope that we go? Where are some of the deltas that we have today in cybersecurity marketing, that you're hoping that with banding everyone together and creating this brain trust, that we'll be able to move to where we need to be. But what is so difficult about marketing to cybersecurity practitioners?
Maria 10:40
So much is difficult.
Gianna 10:44
You all are cybersecurity practitioners. So why don't you tell us how difficult you are?
Chris 10:50
I know from my perspective, I think we're a skeptical bunch, right? Number one, we are tricked, or at least attempted to be tricked all the time, right, through phishing links, and things like that. So we're already skeptical, whatever comes into our inbox, but then also, as cybersecurity practitioners, we’re sold to, quite often. People want us to get demos, because there's a lot of money in the space. And so we already have our guards up, we're already protecting ourselves from this potentiality of someone trying to dupe us into a sale. So it's almost like you have to create a different connection with us in order to really build that relationship to get to the point where you're ready to take a demo or take a meeting or anything like that. So I think we are a skeptical bunch. And sometimes we can read through the BS, right? Sometimes marketing, they use buzzwords because we think that, “Oh, wow, AI or machine learning that's really got us buzzed and excited about it.” But at this point, we really want to see how a company is going to be able to help us in our jobs.
Gianna 11:51
Exactly. So like you just said, Chris, like, great job, because like now I don't have to answer the
question. Yeah, we're selling products and services. And the people we're selling to are highly
technical, are incredibly skeptical, like you said, and also the market and the industry is
constantly changing. Cybersecurity is a game of cat and mouse, always, right? New tactics by
hackers and threat actors arise all the time. It's a constant chase. I mean, everyone knows this. This is why there's so much burnout, and so much trouble with hiring and growing people in cybersecurity from the security perspective. Another thing is, there's a lot of venture capital in this space. And there's also a lot of companies in this space. The amount of cybersecurity companies that exist right now and launch every day is amazing. So it's hard to stand out. It's hard to say your message without defaulting to buzzwords. And we're here to make sure that together as an industry, cybersecurity marketers default to the best practices in marketing to cybersecurity, so that we're not bothering our quote unquote, target audience so that we're doing great marketing so that we can help everyone be
more safe.
Maria 13:03
I mean, I can explain in one story, how hard it is to market to cybersecurity practitioners. I read
once that this is a CISO. And okay, understandably, so that person is very busy and highly
stressed with budgets and board meetings and reporting to executives. But I read that one
CISO had workflows and filters on his email, that would send any email that had the word “white paper” in it, an archive folder and doesn't even bother looking at them. So that's how hard it is.
Gianna 13:42
Another thing we're trying to get away from is that unpleasant, FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and
Doubt, right, so in the Society, we help other members when they have questions about
marketing, like all of our members help each other. How can we stay away from this fear,
uncertainty, and doubt? How can we really understand the person that we're selling to which is the basis of good marketing? And there's a hurdle sometimes for marketers who are not
technical. And then therefore, they do default to buzzwords because they may or may not
understand the product or the problem as well. And we're all here together, our 1500 members, in order to help solve that problem for the industry so that we can all market better, be more successful, and grow our careers.
Maria 14:21
And interestingly, what we're starting to see, actually as well, is security practitioners reach out and propose sort of a forum where we can come together and they can help us understand what not to do, right and how to make cybersecurity marketing better, how to do better marketing, essentially.
Gianna 14:40
Yeah, cuz it's fun to piss on vendors, like honestly, I think all of us now have thick skin, don't
mind being the butt of a joke or a rant. When you know, a salesperson from one of our
companies reaches out in like a very cringe way. But ideally, it would just be better if we were
better connected, doing better marketing, and making sure that we're really helping solve
problems for the industry. And it's amazing that even like Maria said, even security folks have
reached out, they want to be on our podcast, they want to speak to our members. They want to help educate us, the marketers, so that we can market better and do a better job and be less annoying, as I think one of them once said.
Ron 15:20
The less cringe the better. And yeah, you two are doing some great work with just helping build a community that understands that, but you're not just building the community, you're also generating insights. So tell us about some of the insights that you were able to collect, gather, curate, and also share with the community over time.
Gianna 15:40
Sure. So we, the Cybersecurity Marketing Society, along with being a community and a fun
place to hang out and a great place to talk about tactics and strategy, and a great place to find a new job if you're looking etc., etc. We're also an ISAC for cybersecurity marketers. So we're an Information Sharing and Analysis Center too, to make a security analogy here. And so we have started a couple of programs that help us marketers determine the ROI of our marketing, especially on events, because cybersecurity events are very expensive. The single event can cost 18 grand, 30 grand, the bigger events can be $200,000 to attend to do a booth and a party and things like that. So, we launched, let's talk about blank. So like we've done two, let's talk about RSA, and let's talk about Blackhat. Right, and what these are, these are basically like focus group-style, everyone who's a cybersecurity marketer who attended join us on a Zoom, we're gonna go into breakout rooms, we're gonna put you not in the same rooms as your competitors, if you have any who are attending. And we're going to collect the data on the ROI of your attendance anonymously. And we're going to compile it in a report broken down by funding level, by company stage, by where you were located, booth size, and we're going to be able to share these insights with everybody. So anyone who's thinking about, “Hey, I attended Blackhat, and I spent $100,000. And I got this, is this status quo? Is this normal? Am I underperforming? Am I over performing? Where am I in the return space?” and see those numbers and be like, “Okay, I fit here. And this was a good event for me to attend again next year. I got a good ROI. And I can see who else got a good ROI and see comments and data from other players who were actually at the event.”
Chris 17:28
Has there been a baseline before? Like knowing if, hey, is this on track for a good return on
investment for how much we spent? Has anyone done this data before?
Gianna 17:38
No, they haven't.
Chris 17:39
Wow.
Maria 17:40
This has never been done before and it's very much needed today, especially because during
the pandemic, of course, there were no events. So a lot of the event's budget went into other
channels. And now there is a struggle to convince leadership and the budget holders to bring
back that budget into events, since we're going back to in-person. And so this data would serve a great deal in that conversation in terms of we do need a budget back because this particular event has proven to be successful for many others, or other companies in our size and the same growth trajectory and so on.
Chris 18:16
What did you all see with both Blackhat and RSA? Were there some interesting findings about
like the return on investment for some folks, did some folks knock it out of the park and they got way more than they bargained for? And did some folks put up a significant amount of
investment in and not really get the return they were looking for?
Gianna 18:34
Yes. So yes to all of those questions. The debrief report for Blackhat and RSA are publicly
available. So anyone who wants to actually read the data can visit
cybersecuritymarketingsociety.com and see the actual reports. Any security folks listening, if you work at a company where you have a marketing team who attends these events, please share this with them. They will love you for that, actually. So, some of the things we saw from Blackhat, because that was most recent— and this was the qualitative stuff that we've pulled the insights— the return of a Blackhat was higher for those who attended than it was for at RSA. Of course, we understand that when you attend RSA, it's a little less of a selling show. You got to be there. It's brand awareness. It's meeting with investors, it's meeting with partners, etc. But those who attended Blackhat report that the quality of traffic— even though it was less than RSA, because Blackhat was smaller with only about 600 people or so attending— even though the quantity of traffic was smaller, the quality of people attending were better. There was also some operational issues with Blackhat this year that we listed in our report, including things like they didn't put carpet in the hallway for some reason? Like the conference didn't do that so it was like super loud. And the timing of Blackhat this year, affected reporter turnout since RSA had happened so recently, at BlackHat there was very few media opportunities, very few reporters. So anyone who was looking at BlackHat this year from an AR/PR perspective that you probably did not meet with any are just a handful of reporters. Although next year, since RSA will be in April and Blackhat will still be, I think, in July, there's a wider spread. So it’s been more likely that reporters will be returning next year to Black Hat.
Ron 20:19
Being two marketers in the industry, how would you rate both of the conferences personally?
Would you say that RSA and Blackhat were both a great success? Or is it a sliding scale? How
would you say it for you, Maria?
Maria 20:33
My previous company didn't go to either one, we actually opted to go to Garner SRM.
Ron 20:38
That was also at the same time as RSA, right?
Maria 20:41
Exactly, it was during the same week as RSA. And so the feedback from that one is that a lot of
companies were struggling, who to send to RSA, and who to send to Garner, and so there was
definitely a much smaller turnout. Even though I feel like, sure, a smaller crowd, but maybe
more interesting conversations and more strategic conversations. So, but RSA I was actually physically there. Because with the Cybersecurity Marketing Society, we had our first ever member meetup. Since a lot of our members were already there with our companies, we thought, “Why don't we get together for the first time and meet some of these people that we made friends with for the past two years?” And it was wonderful. So for me, RSA was a success because our in-person meetup was a success. And so yeah, and we didn't attend Blackhat. Not sure, Gianna, if you have any stories from the data we gathered in terms of
how people found it.
Gianna 21:34
I found RSA to be great. And I can't share any specific details, because we collected all that
data anonymously. So my data is in our report, but you're just not gonna be able to tell it to me. None, Blackhat. For Butea, we didn't really attend. But just the general landscape of ROI, like did we get deals and opportunities, it seems like Blackhat beat out RSA this year. Just from our sample, it's more than 20 companies who, I think, responded to each of these surveys. I think in the Blackhat one, it might have been more around 30 or above 30. But we're going to keep doing this every year, we're going to keep expanding the survey and expanding the width and the amount of companies who provide data because we're going to keep doing reach outs and sharing how important it is to get this data. And we're going to have better and better data every year. So I'm really looking forward to next year's debrief on Black Hat and RSA and seeing how things changed and how companies perceive their ROI next year.
Ron 22:29
So we talked about getting marketers with the right information to succeed and also to make it
so that they're providing value to the entire industry. What it sounds like, in some ways, is that
you all need to be at every single conference, because you have the meetup group, it incentivizes you to go whether or not your company goes. Do you think that will change over time where marketers will still go to conferences like RSA and Blackhat, even though their
company doesn't have a booth?
Gianna 22:58
What you just said, Ron, where you said, “we need to be at every show,” I feel like you're
secretly being paid by my credit card company or something. Like, does Chase sponsor you?
Ron 23:12
Right now, 3% back.
Gianna 23:15
Travel points!
Ron 23:18
But that's probably why you created your conference, right? Is to have that opportunity to not
have to go to RSA and Blackhat, just to get the insights from other marketers.
Gianna 23:28
So, we collected the insights virtually, so we didn't have to be there to get the insight. It is super nice, however, to have something at BlackHat and at RSA that's just for marketers. Marketers at conferences are, I kind of feel like we're a little like, I don't know if I can curse, but shit on. You know, we're doing the grunt work. We're running to Target to get tape because nobody brought tape and we're like, freaking out and we're like having to make sure everyone's fed. It's like a very operational role. When you're a marketer and you attend a conference, you're like, making sure the booth is clean and like, making sure everybody's wearing the shirt and like making sure everyone's saying the right thing at the booth and like hitting people in the back when they say the wrong elevator pitch, stuff like that. We did these meetups, we had a party at RSA, and then, we did lunch. We did a couple hours every day, we used a meeting room donated by Quintessence labs and then sponsored by People by Namie. We provided free charcuterie boards and takeaway snacks and a lounge for people to kind of, for marketers only to hang out at. Having a space at each of these, at least these big conferences, I think is important. And it shows that marketers are also important and it gives them a break from the drudge and the grunt work of being at a show.
Chris 24:41
Wow, that is interesting. And what's super interesting to me, is the perception of everyone to the marketers and even the sales folks to some degree, in cybersecurity. I honestly have the utmost respect for marketers because a lot of marketers really didn't come from a cybersecurity background. They came from a marketing background or a business background and they are learning about security. They're learning terminology. They're really trying to understand how to market to our community. What would you say is the optimal path for someone going through marketing? How much do they really need to understand about the cybersecurity world? Should they index more on that side? Should they index more on good marketing practices, what have you two found to be the best mixture for a marketer?
Maria 25:30
I was gonna say, I think all of the above, but if I were to prioritize, and I think what I learned over the years is, of course, we are expected to ramp up pretty quickly in the new job and just start marketing, right? Start writing ad copy, start writing emails, and that sort of thing. And so for me, my default, go-to right away in a new job is: I just need to understand the product, not from a technical perspective, because I'm not a computer science engineer, right? I'm not a
cybersecurity architect, I just need to know: what are the benefits? Give me five bullet points.
What does our product provide our customers, right? And then on the other side, understand
the customer and our potential customers, and understand sort of the — I usually like to connect the emotion that happens when our customer starts to use our product, right? How does it actually make them feel? And so when you have those two things, I think that's a really good recipe just to at least get started. And then yes, definitely embed ourselves into the security community as much as possible, just so we can understand. What's the speak there? What are the jokes? What are the inside jokes? Of course, what are the acronyms? And what do they mean? What does it mean to be a security architect at a big company versus a small company? And a lot of times, we're having to understand whether security is within IT or whether they're two different departments. So things like that. But for me, my default is just tell me what our product does in the benefit it brings our customers in, let me figure out how that actually makes them feel and I have the right tools just to get started.
Chris 27:04
What about you, Gianna?
Gianna 27:05
I agree with Maria. You start at the value and understanding the customer. And over time at your company, you will learn more and more about this very specific subset or area of security in which your product and your company plays in.
Maria 27:21
Just to add to that, also, depending on how big the company is where you work, you can arm
yourself with the right subject matter experts to make your marketing better, to make your
marketing resonate and make it successful. If you don't have that, there's, of course, external
subject matter experts that you can engage with, and add that credibility to your content or your webinars and your brand, essentially. You don't always have to be the most technical person on the marketing team, you just have to surround yourself with the right people.
Chris 27:53
I love that. If I gave you both a magic wand, and you can change one thing about cybersecurity and marketing across the board, that could be on the prospect side, that could be on the marketing practitioner side, it could be anything, but it can't be the same thing. So, you both have to pick two different things to change. What would that thing be and why?
Gianna 28:15
I would take my wand and I would make people not feel like they are not able to get into
cybersecurity marketing just because they don't know cybersecurity. Cybersecurity and anything adjacent to it, including marketing, is usually a well-paying job. A good— might be stressful — but a compensated area. It's a good career. And I want more marketers to feel comfortable jumping into cybersecurity marketing, and feeling like, “Hey, I'm new to this, but I'm going to learn, I'm going to grow. I have a growth mindset. I might not know much about cybersecurity now, but I will learn.” And that's something I would like to change.
Maria 28:55
I would give cybersecurity marketing a big publicity campaign like a big PR campaign.
Gianna 29:02
Oh, like Super Bowl?
Maria 29:05
Like, cybersecurity marketing really doesn't suck. We're just people behind the email we send
you, please click on our email. I would totally do like a full-on PR campaign that would change
the mindset about vendor marketing in cybersecurity. And yeah, just a little bit more empathy,
please.
Chris 29:25
What do you think needs to change the most? What about the perception, what about the PR
strategy that is going on right now isn't doing for marketing?
Maria 29:34
There's just this misunderstanding of what our customers are actually looking for and what they need. A lot of times we are so sort of enveloped in our product and how amazing it is and not truly understanding whether it actually fits the needs of the customer. And so there's that
disconnect, and that's why there is a disconnect in terms of messaging and buzzwords and
things like that. I mean, I think there's a lot that we need to do on our end from a vendor
perspective and marketing perspective, but also just some open arms, some empathy from the other side, so we can be encouraged to continue doing better.
Ron 30:09
Yes, well, we're rooting for you all. We're rooting for the entire industry, whether you're a
marketer or a salesperson or a practitioner and architect, and you're doing it day by day. I really respect and appreciate the hard work that y'all are putting in day in and day out, and wanted to say thank you for that. But also, thank you for being amazing guests, and amazing podcast hosts, changing the industry. We also wanted to share a quick link to anyone listening to join the conference. If you have time this year, you could visit the Cybersecurity Marketing Society conference by going to CybersecurityMarketingSociety.com/Conference2022. We'll also be sure to drop all of the social links for Maria, Gianna, and the Cybersecurity Marketing Society. Thank you two, again, and with that, we'll see everyone next time.
Maria 30:58
Thanks for having us.
Gianna 30:59
Thanks so much.
Chris 31:06
If you found value in this content, it would mean the world to us if you shared it on social media, sent it to a friend, or talked about it over coffee. Hacker Valley Studio with Chris Cochran & Ron Eddings

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