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.

Collaborating with technical subject matter experts on blog posts

Let’s face it: You can’t sustain your company’s blog all by yourself. But you don’t have to. The great thing about marketing B2B technology is that you’re surrounded by super smart people. Collaborating with technical subject matter experts (SME) on blog posts can be incredibly fulfilling. Oftentimes I find that SMEs are as passionate about technology as marketers are about creating great content. Together, you can make a great team.

So, who are your subject matter experts? They are your engineers, developers, administrators, technicians – anyone who helps build, deliver and support your company’s products and/or services. These people offer a dual advantage: First, they know your technologies better than anyone. Second, they are also very similar to your target audience. Because they are trying to solve your customer’s problems, it’s very likely they are interested in the same topics as your customers. Actively engaging with your company’s technologists will take your blog to a new level.

Now you just have to convince your technologists to contribute. This can be a challenge given how busy everyone is these days. It’s also possible that they don’t feel comfortable writing for a public forum. That’s ok. SME blog contributions can take several forms:

• A 30-minute brain dump with you or another writer
• A suggested topic, links to background information and any additional context for a blog post
• A link to an article or report and the SME’s roughly written response to the said content
• Audio recordings of Meet Up presentations, conference sessions, etc., that they attended with suggestions for a specific angle or why it’s of interest
• Technical details or specific anecdotes that he/she adds to a blog post you’ve started
• And, of course, a complete first draft

Each of these scenarios requires varying levels of effort from you depending on the SME’s writing capabilities and your understanding of the content. But whether you write the first draft or edit the SME’s first draft, I highly recommend that you send the blog post back to your source for a technical edit. Highlight any edits and revisions that could have changed the original meaning. When writing in Word, turn on Track Changes. In Google Docs, go to Editing > Suggesting. This will give you both assurance that the content is accurate, while helping you build a solid partnership.

And what if you’re still met with resistance from potential SME contributors? In an ideal world, you’d have management’s support and contributing to the corporate blog would be part of each person’s job responsibilities. It doesn’t have to be much. Consider how much content you’d have if each of your technologists was required to contribute to the blog once or twice a quarter. You can certainly make a case to management, but whether or not contributing to the blog is a requirement, it helps if your subject matter experts actually want to contribute. Here are some tips for making it worth their while:

• Give your technical SMEs the byline – no matter how small their contribution.
• Make sure everyone understands their options for contributing, and make it very easy for them to do so.
• Offer occasional writing seminars. This will make your job easier over time.
• Hold a seminar on the value of personal branding, explaining how it can help their career and offering tips for promoting their contributions via social media.
• Be flexible and show respect for their time. It might be difficult to enforce deadlines, so try to have multiple blog posts in progress at once to cover yourself.
• When a new blog post is live share it internally and publicly thank the contributor.

Finally, express your gratitude – again. At the end of the day, the corporate blog is primarily your baby. The immediate benefit of SME blog contributions is yours. Let technical subject matter experts know you appreciate their hard work, and be open to suggestions. With a little bit of luck and hard work, you’ll have more content and topics than you know what to do with.