Targeting your marketing and/or PR strategy to specific stakeholders is no easy task. To grab a decision maker’s attention and spark action with content, develop a plan that digs into the challenges piling up on your target audience members’ desks.
In this essay we use the example of targeting CISOs, or Chief Information Security Officers. Yet the ideas we discuss are applicable across nearly all industries.
A chief concern of CISOs is learning about new technology, services and trends. And with the growing need for strong cybersecurity, CISOs have become vitally important. Still, whatever audience you are targeting, the tactics are similar to those we're using to attract CISOs.
Your first job is to research the audience. Generate the research or have a partner join you in the effort. For CISOs, we pulled findings from research with a partner. We extracted key learnings into the below list of questions to develop a stronger, more strategic marketing plan.
1. Whom do you need to reach to influence buying behavior?
Depending on what you learn about your target audience, proceed accordingly. For example, 64 percent of CISOs surveyed said they rely on peer communications and word-of-mouth to learn about new security products and vendors.
So, we know peer-to-peer experiences carry a lot of weight with CISOs. As a result, security marketers will contact CISO networks and seek out pain points. Following that, marketers' content should provide value by offering solutions to make the CISO's life easier.
2. Should your blog be a bigger part of your content marketing strategy?
In the CISO example, yes. A vast majority of CISOs (89 percent) read vendor blogs—particularly when those blogs offer valuable educational content.
Torn about what to cover? Our surveyed CISOs identified their top areas of interest as new threats or attacks (53 percent), evolving market trends and predictions (25 percent) and new products (11 percent). Research will inform you about what your target audience seeks.
With new threats and attacks leading the pack, organizations have an opportunity to promote research on their blog, providing value to CISOs and the media.
Lack a research team? Don’t worry. Pull back the curtain and fill your blog with content about what’s going on behind daily industry headlines.
3. Are you relying too heavily on influencer relations?
While influencers can be helpful in other industries, they’re in the world of CISOs. 60 percent of the CISOs surveyed don’t follow influencers, let alone turn to them first for information. For security-focused PR and marketing professionals, it’s clear they should prioritize building deeper, long-term relationships with customers, then maintain a secondary focus on influencers.
4. Is investing in industry analyst reports worth it?
Just 9 percent of CISOs said they use industry analyst reports to get new information about security products and vendors. This was shocking, and demonstrates the importance of surveying your target audience. Over the years, due to an influx of pay-to-play programs, many CISOs have grown weary of analyst reports. Instead, they are leaning on other information sources, including, as we noted above, their peers, vendor blogs and trade media.
What you find out about your target audience may shock you, too. Based on your findings, consider adjusting the emphasis you place on content marketing, media relations, SEO and dynamic paid targeting.
5. Have you adjusted for COVID-19?
It’s the elephant in the room, no matter what industry you’re targeting. In the CISO example, COVID-19 has turned the security industry upside down. CISOs are scrambling to close security gaps that didn’t exist before the pandemic.
As people seek new ways to help each other, it’s imperative to keep the problem-solving mindset within marketing as well. Similarly, since security vendors have an opportunity to help CISOs solve pressing new problems, marketers must be more problem-focused than previously.
Especially now, your content can do its part by providing solutions to help your target audience navigate the whirlwind of challenges that have accompanied the pandemic.
Katie Pesek is an executive with MERRITTGROUP