Every time I sat down to write about RSA, all that kept running through my head was - ‘rock, scissors, ambush’ (I’m an Aussie and this is my family’s version of ‘rock, paper, scissors’). Eventually, I decided to entertain the idea that the two could be related somehow and found myself actually drawing some pretty funny parallels.

Before I dive in, I know a lot of you are probably wondering what is up with the ‘ambush’? It was a move I used to pull on my siblings when I wanted to put an end to the game (usually because I was losing). As they drew their choice, I’d hook my foot around the back of their leg and give them a heartfelt nudge in the opposite direction to claim victory. 

So what does this game have to do with the cybersecurity industry?

The Rocks: The tried and tested solutions that continue to serve as a staple in the enterprise security stack. These giants continue to survive the onslaught of competition. They do innovate, but it’s usually by collecting or adding other ‘rocks’ to their existing suite. Their advantage? They simplify things for enterprises. There is some pretty cool stuff happening within older categories like network - particularly with deception technology.

The Scissors: These are the guys that like to take pieces of technology and ideas to create their own unique product - fitting them together like a puzzle. Their advantage is that they often address a flaw in current solutions.

Then, the Ambush: Those that ambush are the ones going where no one has gone before - throwing out the rulebook to come up with completely new ways to tackle cybersecurity. These are the ones that have the highest success to failure rate. But when they win, they usually win pretty big - I’m led to believe they turn into unicorns. 

Despite the different approaches, every vendor serves a critical purpose in the industry. Today’s threat landscape is terrifying. While it’s true cyber risks are relative across different categories, at the end of the day a risk is still a risk. Any type of cyberattack could cost companies direct or indirect financial loss and business upheaval. This is what makes cybersecurity one of most competitive industries today. And this comes out in full force at RSA. 

So how can vendors change things up to stand out to today’s customers?

While I may have skin in the game, a lot of vendors fall short in their approach to their brand communications. One of the biggest issues is that they’re failing to consider the customer’s experience from the big picture. Here are three things vendors need to think about to connect with today’s customer.

1. Be in the business of marketing to people, not advanced robots 

The technical fine print is important, but information overload today is real and overwhelming. If you know your customer, you know they are time poor, under immense pressure, and although they may stay up-to-date on the latest tech trends, they likely only know basic terminology. If you flood your prospects with a ton of product options, technical jargon, and new terms you’ve coined to carve out your own niche, you’re probably going to lose them. In a recent survey of more than 600 B2B buyers, it was revealed that piling on more information and options can drive down sales by as much as 18%. Competitive differentiation is important, but you need to strike a balance.

2. Demonstrate technology leadership through business vision

Customers want to buy into companies dedicated to solving their problems for today and tomorrow. So demonstrate vision and leadership beyond your website, to set yourself apart. With the right platform, CEOs can have a huge influence on building a company’s leadership. In addition, the c-suite can also play a big role in building brand reputation - such as using your HR lead to talk about your own business values around culture and talent. This gives your organization a face and a personality. 

3. If you talk the talk, you need to walk the walk

With so much marketing hype, customers are increasingly looking to other sources to validate claims. While participating in cybersecurity reviews can take a lot of legwork, they are the number one content type that B2B buyers consume to make purchasing decisions - nearly 99%. This is followed by articles and blog posts (92%), webinars (80%) and case studies (72%). Consider all of the different content types that can help people understand what problem you are trying to solve.