June has been a busy month for the cybersecurity industry. It was refreshing to see a host of both familiar and brand new faces at two events this month: RSA in San Francisco and Infosecurity Europe in London. Across my three days at RSA and one day at Infosec (thanks to an unfortunately-timed train strike), and my countless conversations with professionals in the cyber industry, I noticed a few common themes that reinforced just how important it is to establish a compelling and unique brand narrative.

A crowded market

Cybersecurity is still a very crowded market, and there are a lot of overlaps in vendor offerings. This is exacerbated by the fact that every year a major overarching theme emerges, homogenizing the messaging that brands go out with. In 2018 the introduction of the GDPR and the impact of AI and automation dominated conversations. In 2019 concern surrounded the growing impact of ransomware. But this year, one of the stand-out themes is indisputably Zero Trust.

One of the biggest buzzwords in cybersecurity, Zero Trust has become a key consideration and is top-of-mind for many CISOs. But with so many vendors and big industry names building their campaigns, messaging, and USPs around the concept of Zero Trust, how can CISOs and key decision makers differentiate?

Building a brand story

To stand for something more than just the latest buzzword, tech companies need to find their unique position in the market. By refining Go to Market strategy and market positioning through collaborative workshops, vendors are able to articulate their unique selling point, market fit, and brand story, distilling this information down into their overarching brand essence. With this clear picture of who they are and their product’s true value, they can effectively appeal to their customers’ human emotions. When applying concepts like Zero Trust, tech players also need to remain honest and pragmatic, providing clarity on what aspects they support and how, without over-promising or getting carried away with technical jargon. There are also opportunities to play on the popularity of these well-known terms to create attention-grabbing marketing, like Appgate’s stand at Infosec, for example.

appgate - unique brand narrative on zero trust

Terms like Zero Trust are still important in quickly grabbing customers’ attention, but without a unique story and brand personality to back them up, tech vendors end up looking confusingly similar. That’s why at FMXA, we help tech players avoid homogenous campaigns, whether they’re a seed-funded startup or an established market leader. By building purposeful brands strengthened by concise, localized content, we ensure that you hit the language and trends that your customers want to hear, while crafting a unique brand story that gives you credibility.

Guerrilla marketing

I couldn’t talk about RSA and Infosec without mentioning the creative and eye-catching campaigns that stood out to me. Some of the vendors who didn’t have dedicated stands were still engaging with customers in unique and innovative ways, both in and out of the conference halls.

At RSA, I was thrilled to see SecureAuth’s guerrilla campaign promoting their brand new product offering, which was featured on digivans and placards around the Moscone Center (pictured below). Their new product name, Arculix, was a product of several workshops and brainstorms held earlier this year by the team at FMXA. By looking at language translations and connotations, and drawing upon the GTM strategy and brand messaging we previously established, we came up with Arculix, a fusion of Arculus, the Roman God of lockboxes, and helix, which ties back to their digital DNA concept.

secureauth arculix

Walking around both RSA and Infosec Europe, it struck me how open, friendly, and welcoming everyone was. And with many vendors leaning toward more relatable and emotive messaging, it’s clear that humanizing technology, FMXA’s key mission, is more important than ever. By putting the target audience at the center of a clear and consistent story, tech companies can remain memorable beyond the booths of the convention center.

I can’t wait to do it all over again at Black Hat in August!

Please drop me a message if you’d like to chat at an upcoming event, or if you’d like to find out more about FMXA and our experience humanizing tech.

As an agency, FMXA has always been mindful of the alignment of sales and marketing, and we understand that executive sponsorship is key to the success of any Account Based Marketing Programme.

With this in mind, I was delighted to attend the 2021 Global ABM Conference to further expand my knowledge of what makes an ABM campaign successful. It was particularly exciting to be able to attend the event in-person this year, after almost two years of remote, online-only events. Spread across two days, one in-person and one virtual, the conference included talks from some of the leading masterminds of the international ABM community, who spoke directly to the pain points of B2B marketing.

The building blocks of ABM success

Compared to the 2019 conference, it’s clear that many more technology vendors are now embarking on building an ABM strategy program. Over 86% of attendees had budget allocated to Account Based Marketing, with over 24% of the audience allocating 30% of their total marketing budgets on ABM programs.

Andrea Clatworthy, Global Head of ABM at Fujitsu, kicked us off by explaining the three building blocks of ABM success: executive sponsorship, finding the right ABM resources, and realistic budgets.

Andrea went on to explain that there’s no set budget per every account should be looked at with a fresh perspective, and a net-new account may require a bigger budget than an existing customer. I loved Andrea’s talk on the three Rs: Reach, Relationships, and Revenue, which explained the importance of having realistic expectations for ROI.

Tricia Stinton, UK CMO of Cognizant, explained the ways in which the pandemic has shifted our interaction with audiences. With less scope for physical events and trade shows, most of the interactions we make are now digitally-led.

Both Tricia and Andrea talked about a ‘purist’ approach to ABM—having a deep understanding of your client and scaling a one-to-one approach to one-to-few and then one-to-many as you refine your marketing formula.

As an agency, we certainly consider this deep understanding and personalization an important factor when working with clients. Our ’66 Days Back’ CISO engagement campaign for Malwarebytes focused on the human impact of malware, shining a light on stress within cybersecurity and providing personalized wellbeing subscriptions as a way of empathizing with security professionals.

The ABM challenges to avoid

Autodesk’s Judy Wilks and Christian Weiss talked around the five ways (not) to fail at ABM, with Christian sharing his challenge in getting executive sponsorship for ABM (or “another bullshit in marketing”, as it was referred to by his peers). Christian shared his advice on aligning with sales and the role of marketing in taking a longer-term view, always keeping the customer at the center of the process.

We loved his comments around how data is king and content is queen – a view shared by Tejal Patel, Senior Director of Marketing at Cisco.

At FMXA, our focus is always on the person reading the content – their worries, their capabilities, and their goals.

Looking beyond marketing to accounts and striving to reach the people within these accounts is key to successful ABM. And when we drive that engagement further, that’s when the magic happens.

Humanizing ABM

Neil Berry, Global Head of Account and Deal-Based Marketing from ATOS, focused on the human aspect of technology marketing and the complexity of the B2B buyer journey. Marketers have over 9000 marketing tools to choose from, making it easy to get lost in systems when we should be focusing on building campaigns that give reach.

Neil explained how important it was to separate and differentiate deal based marketing from account based marketing, both of which are necessary for key accounts.

Holding and attending events and conferences in this ‘new normal’ can be daunting. The silver lining is that COVID has challenged us to push the boundaries of what we can do, forcing us to be creative and personalize the event experience so that everyone is comfortable, mutually respected, and safe as they network and share knowledge.

This year’s Global ABM Conference emphasized the need to look beyond the data and focus on the personal and professional goals of the individuals we market to, validating FMXA’s philosophy of humanizing technology.

If you’d like to discuss account based marketing, message Alisha Dattani or reach out to the FMXA team.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.