Putting Your Cyber Marketing Audience First with Dani Woolf

October 4, 2022 Hacker Valley Studio


Show Notes

Dani Woolf, Director of Demand Generation at Cybersixgill and Host of the Audience First podcast, brings her marketing expertise to Hacker Valley to talk about what’s broken in the marketer-buyer relationship. Dani’s tried and true methods of cybersecurity marketing involve clear messaging, authentic communication, and building trust in an industry where not trusting anyone is the norm. How can cyber marketers break through the negative stereotypes and show cybersecurity buyers that they’re authentic?


Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Fixing the broken relationship between cyber marketers, sellers, & buyers

[04:58] Unrealistic marketing goals vs incorrect marketer perspectives

[10:23] Better conversations between marketers & practitioners with Audience First

[15:12] Connecting with curious cyber practitioners instead of dismissing them

[23:37] Advice for cyber marketers looking to start fresh with content


Sponsor Links:

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


What messages are practitioners receiving (or not receiving) from cybersecurity marketers? 

One of the domains Dani actively uses is hilariously titled, “WTF Did I Just Read?” This project, inspired by the contextless and confusing messaging cyber practitioners receive everyday, aims to show marketers how to adopt better tactics and more authentic communication with potential buyers. Truth be told, Dani has seen the worst of cyber marketing, and she understands why many marketing teams get a bad rap in the industry.

“Frankly, [marketers] are just sending messages that have absolutely no context or need to the buyer, which is just lazy. You have to identify the problem, do a little bit of legwork to see what the buyer is interested in. Who are they really? What are they trying to solve?”


Where do you think we all went wrong, from a cyber marketing perspective?

Two factors have contributed to incorrect and inauthentic marketing tactics in cybersecurity, according to Dani. The first is pressure to achieve stressful goals and unrealistic KPIs on marketing teams that should be focusing on quality of communication over quantity of calls or outreach methods. The second is marketers coming into the cyber industry with the false mindset that cyber marketing is just like any other marketing, when in reality, the methods of communication and the relationship with buyers is completely different. 

“A lot of professionals coming into cybersecurity think that what they've done in other verticals works in cybersecurity, when in fact it doesn't. I know for a fact it doesn't, because that's how I made mistakes in the security space and that's how [my podcast] Audience First was born.”


Is there a lot of conversation and communication happening between marketers and cybersecurity practitioners?

Marketers and practitioners are not communicating in a trustworthy and authentic way, in Dani’s opinion. Many marketers fall into the mindset trap of letting the “smart people” in the room talk during meetings and calls, instead of engaging in the conversation. Dani explains that when cyber marketers shut themselves out, they don’t learn anything about cybersecurity or about their clients. Not knowing creates a lack of trust and confidence for both sides. 

“If we continue to just click on buttons and look at numbers, we're not going to do our jobs any better. I urge anybody listening to foster that bidirectional relationship, to be open to marketers speaking to you, and to be open to speaking to practitioners and asking for feedback.”


How would you compare the average cybersecurity buyer to, for example, other buyers in the technology space? 

Despite the stereotypes of cybersecurity buyers being tough or unapproachable, Dani admits that many of her cybersecurity clients are kinder and more empathetic than in other tech industries. However, this kindness and empathy has to be earned, and security professionals aren’t always the easiest people to gain the trust of. Dani explains that credibility and authenticity reign supreme in messaging to cyber buyers, because that is the only way to break through the caution many practitioners are trained to have.

“Why would I scratch your back? Or, why would you scratch mine if I don't even know who you are? Like, the whole point of security is not to trust everything that you see. So, trust and credibility is a huge part of that, and establishing authentic relationships is a huge part, too.”



Keep up with our guest Dani Woolf on LinkedIn and Twitter

Listen to Dani’s podcast, Audience First, and learn more about “WTF Did I Just Read?”

Check out the Cybersixgill website

Learn more about Dani’s work on her other Hacker Valley podcast appearances: Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing, Breaking Into Cyber 

Connect with Ron Eddings on LinkedIn and Twitter

Connect with Chris Cochran on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Check out Hacker Valley Media and Hacker Valley Studio

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