Want commercial success in infosec? Stop doing marketing! (like everyone else)

In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, traditional marketing strategies no longer suffice in the InfoSec sector. This article explores a transformative approach based on deep community engagement, demonstrating how genuine support and understanding of the InfoSec community can lead to unparalleled marketing success. This piece is intended for InfoSec marketers and those interested in leveraging community support for business success.

Disclaimer: For simplicity, this discussion treats the InfoSec community as a unified entity, though it is diverse and multifaceted.

I have a long-term vision rooted in my passion for the community: I aim to convince companies of the benefits of supporting it. In those rare cases where management understands, I seek to enhance their marketing departments’ understanding of the community, its members, and the most effective targeting strategies.

This article is designed to contribute to the debate, primarily engaging InfoSec marketers—but of course, it is open for all to read. Should you have any questions or wish to discuss further, please feel free to reach out.

So, are you an InfoSec marketer? Interestingly, I never envisioned myself in that role. My background is deeply rooted in the technical aspects of InfoSec, and I’ve always viewed its commercial side with skepticism. I never found marketing particularly intriguing or relevant—until now.

Marketing indeed comes in many forms. The traditional methods never captured my interest, but I discovered the power of community-focused content marketing.

If you’re unfamiliar with this term, there’s a good reason. I devised it when I realized that content marketing in InfoSec could take on various forms.

Starting My Journey in InfoSec

Let’s backtrack to the beginning of my engagement with the InfoSec community. It started when I began organizing OWASP meetings in my local chapter. I’m not entirely sure why I started—it just felt natural. But I know why I continued: I relished organizing insightful talks, bringing people together, and witnessing the joy in their eyes when they learned something new or made meaningful connections. Assisting the community provides me with immense satisfaction. Thus, when the opportunity arose to help bring the non-profit InfoSec conference Security BSides to Copenhagen, I seized it without hesitation.

Imagine my elation when I realized that combining my extensive background in InfoSec with my love for the community could evolve into a genuine profession—something as exciting as ‘marketing’.

The Power of Community Engagement in InfoSec

Over the years, my active participation has shown me the immense power of the InfoSec community. My recent role as the head of community for an emerging FOSS project only reinforces this:

  • Influences Company Trends: The community decides which companies and individuals are trending.
  • Shapes Service Perceptions: It determines who provides excellent service.
  • Defines Desirable Workplaces: Influences which companies are considered great places to work.

This influence can be subtly shaped through content marketing.

As the name suggests, content marketing revolves around content. Though it might sound unusual, it’s not focused on converting customers, generating leads, or making sales. Rather, it’s about building familiarity, likability, and trust toward your brand—all while genuinely supporting the InfoSec community.

The InfoSec community generally seeks to support those who appreciate it. If your marketing strategy involves loving the community, it will reciprocate by promoting how excellent your products are, how skilled your specialists are, and what a great place your company is to work. Or to put it another way:

When people trust your content and recognize you as an expert, you effectively eliminate your competition.

In a market where it’s challenging to sell products and services and even harder to attract qualified employees, this approach is invaluable.

Defining Effective Content in InfoSec Marketing

Fundamentally, content is anything that immediately adds value to the community. When your marketing strategy is built on this premise, it goes without saying that it must be produced consistently with high quality so that the InfoSec community recognizes and values your contributions over time. Types of content include:

  • Blog Articles: In-depth discussions on relevant InfoSec topics.
  • Podcasts/Webcasts: Engaging audio and video content.
  • Talks and Workshops: Interactive sessions that provide valuable knowledge.
  • Innovative Formats: Memes and jokes that resonate with the community’s culture.

Essentially, anything that resonates with the inner InfoSec geek in your target group is valuable. It’s crucial to foster a culture where people are encouraged to have ‘stupid ideas’—ideas so unique they might be either ridiculous or brilliant. If they work, the rewards can be significant. And honestly, what’s the worst that could happen if they fail?

I am immensely grateful to Jason Blanchard from Black Hills Information Security for his inspiration and guidance. He has been instrumental in helping me discover this path and make it my own, particularly now as I’ve begun a consultancy to assist companies and their marketers in adopting this approach. Thank you, Jason!

Jason directed me to a workshop he conducted with Jon Barnes titled “Infosec Marketing in 2021: Hacking the New Normal,” which offers an overview of content strategies and examples of how to create compelling content. I highly recommend watching it if you’re interested in this approach – in spite of it being a few years old it’s still relevant today.

InfoSec Marketing: Not for Everyone

Indeed, there’s a catch: This field is challenging. Particularly if you lack experience in InfoSec and are unfamiliar with the community’s dynamics, it requires significant time and effort.

Creating content that truly engages InfoSec professionals isn’t easy—unless you know exactly what will captivate an InfoSec geek. And gaining that knowledge is often the hardest part if you don’t inherently possess InfoSec geekiness. From my experience, such a blend of skills is rare among marketers.

The more you understand about InfoSec and geek culture, the better equipped you’ll be as a content producer or editor here. But all this expertise won’t amount to much without solid communication skills and an intuitive understanding of what makes a compelling talk or blog article.

In other words, this field is neither purely marketing nor purely InfoSec—it’s both. And those who master both are indeed rare.

Embracing community-focused content marketing is a long-term strategy. When engaging the InfoSec community—or any community—it takes time before you see significant results. The upside is that once you achieve success, that reputation tends to persist within the community.

Ready to Transform Your InfoSec Marketing Strategy?

Navigating the complex world of InfoSec marketing requires a nuanced approach tailored to your unique business needs. As a seasoned consultant specializing in community-driven marketing strategies, I am here to help your company connect deeply with the InfoSec community and achieve sustainable success. If you’re looking to revolutionize your marketing efforts and build lasting relationships within the industry, don’t hesitate to reach out. Together, we can craft a marketing strategy that not only meets but exceeds your expectations.

Good luck on your journey to revolutionize InfoSec marketing!