The content CISOs need from security solution providers

Among many other things, a content marketer’s job is to provide prospects and clients the information they need to make educated buying decisions. A recent study sheds some light on the content CISOs need to be successful–and empower them to purchase your security solutions.

One of the security industry’s favorite mantras is, “It’s not if you’ll be attacked, but when.” Turns out, content marketers may be preaching to the choir. According to research from Kaspersky Lab, 84% of CISOs in North America believe cybersecurity breaches are inevitable. CISOs globally report that financially motivated criminal gangs and malicious insiders are the biggest IT security risks their businesses face. The most critical consequences of a cyberattack are reputational damage (28%) and financial damage (25%).

So, what’s the issue? Turns out—even though 60% of North American survey respondents expect their security budgets to increase in the future—CISOs are having difficulty getting the funds they need to protect their organizations. The problem says Kaspersky: “It’s almost impossible for [CISOs] to offer a clear return on investment (ROI) or 100% protection from cyberattacks.” In fact, more than a third of CISOs report that they can’t secure their required IT security budgets because they can’t guarantee there won’t be a breach.

Therein lies the opportunity. Boards of directors must be educated on the inevitability of an attack and how today’s technologies reduce risk. Executives must understand the difference between allowing an attacker to run rampant in the IT environment and having the capabilities in place to identify and shut down malicious activity before it leads to real damage. Executives need to learn that security strategies must evolve if there’s any hope of surviving a breach.

Meanwhile, CISOs and other security leaders must learn how to measure and communicate risk levels in terms that executives will understand. They need to learn how to explain concepts like dwell time, mean time to detect, and mean time to respond.

That’s where your content comes in. With only 26% of security leaders reporting that they are members of the board at their respective businesses, we can reasonably assume that these leaders can benefit from content that will help them engage and educate top decision makers.  Provide content that educates security leaders on how to bridge that gap between the security organization and the business. Give security leaders insights into the boardroom and how to facilitate change. Offer easily digestible content that can be distributed to business executives.

In other words, help security leaders help themselves. Because ultimately, it won’t matter how much your prospects believe they’re under attack if they can’t communicate that effectively to those who control the purse strings.

Content strategy best practices for b2b technology marketing on a budget

Creating a content strategy can be an overwhelming prospect for small and startup B2B technology companies. It’s a Catch-22: You need content to help drive leads and sales, but you need sales to pay for the content. Then there’s the issue of where to start. How do you make the most of a limited budget?

Whether you’re a small or startup B2B technology company, there are two key words to remember when creating a content marketing strategy: prioritize and re-purpose. Prioritize those activities that will generate the greatest return on your marketing dollars, and be on the constant look-out for new ways to re-purpose the content you already have. Let’s take a closer look at each of these best practices.

Content Strategy Best Practice #1: Prioritize

There are myriad types of content that companies can create to generate and nurture leads. These include blogs, case studies, infographics, microsites, videos, webcasts, white papers… the list goes on. You may be tempted to spread your budget thin in an attempt to create as many different types of content as possible, perhaps even without a clear plan for how the content will be used and promoted. It’s also common for companies to dedicate the majority of their resources to one or two of these, while neglecting others that will help them achieve their content marketing goals more effectively – not just in the near term, but also the long term.

Before you go headlong into one project or another, make sure that it meets your immediate objectives. Are you looking to generate leads? Nurture leads? Nurture and retain existing clients? All of these are important, but if you’re just getting started then your No. 1 priority is likely lead generation. Prioritize your content accordingly.

In my experience, the types of content that will generate the greatest return on your investment are:

White papers

White papers are a tried-and-true lead generator. In fact, according to a study by Drift and Mattermark, “44% of the fastest-growing B2B companies offer downloadable content, like ebooks and white papers.” But not any paper will do. The paper must be engaging, well written and provide value to your readers. It should identify a problem that challenges IT organizations, explain the impact of that problem on the business and provide a solution that includes – but is not limited to – the use of your solution.

“Gating” the white paper – requiring prospects to complete a form to gain access to the content – is also important. Drift and Mattermark found that 28% of the fastest growing B2B companies use gated content. Doing so enables you to capture contact information that you can use to nurture the lead.

Blog

A blog is a must-have. Case in point: 80% of the fastest growing B2B companies maintain a blog and/or online publication – and for many reasons. A blog allows you to demonstrate your expertise by regularly writing about the issues facing IT organizations and the industry at large. A blog also serves as a forum for sharing your company’s accomplishments and conveying your company culture. And, of course, a well-written blog helps prospects find you on Google.

Ideally, I recommend publishing a new blog post twice a week. If you can’t do twice a week, then publish once a week. But set a schedule you can meet, and be consistent. This will help ensure that new prospects (and Google) find you as well as encourage existing leads and customers to return.

Case studies

Case studies validate your technology product or service by explaining how it was used to help solve a problem. Case studies are great tools for your sales people as they engage with existing leads who are in the decision making process. Make your case studies available via your website (keep them ungated) and share them with your sales team.

Content Strategy Best Practice #2: Re-purpose

Good content doesn’t come cheap – especially when it comes to B2B technology. You may need to spend $2,000 on a white paper or $300 per blog post (at a minimum!) in order to get the quality you seek. Instead of trying to drive down the cost of content, increase your return on investment by re-purposing it. Considering just the three types of content above, you can:

  • Slice-and-dice the white paper into a series of blog posts (don’t forget to include a link to register for the white paper)
  • Include summarized case studies in the white paper to validate your position
  • Summarize a case study, focusing on one particular aspect, for a blog post (again, don’t forget to link to the full case study)

The key to successfully re-purposing content is to rewrite it. Do not copy a section of your white paper and paste it into WordPress as a blog post. Instead, read the section, determine your SEO keyword(s), and rewrite the section so that it’s appropriate for your new medium. Better yet: Pay a little extra to have your white paper writer also write these blog posts. They shouldn’t cost as much as a “new” blog, and you’ll be sure that everything is of the same high caliber.

But don’t stop with your existing marketing content. Think about all the materials your company creates just in the course of doing business. Sales presentations and statements of work, for example. These, too, can be re-purposed. Just be careful not to make public any information that is sensitive or confidential, and don’t include any information pertaining to your client unless you have explicit permission to do so.

It may take a little effort (or additional cost), but when you re-purpose content you’ll increase your content marketing ROI and reinforce your message across various mediums.