Cybersecurity Marketing 101 (S1:E39)

October 27, 2022

Cybersecurity is a complex, serious market that’s currently exploding, and so are the demands on digital marketers to keep pace with dramatic growth in services, solutions, and competitors. The entire Identiv marketing team joins us to talk about the challenges in the industry, how they turn technical topics into accessible stories, and the top trends they see on the horizon.

Full Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:01):
You're listening to Humans in Tech. Our podcast explores today's most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow, bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what's new in physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity, and IoT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our digital transformation as a species, and dive into the emerging phygital experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be and how we will fit into that picture. Your host is Leigh Dow, VP of Global Marketing at Identiv.

Leigh Dow (00:43):
Thank you for tuning in today. I'm joined by the entire marketing team here at Identiv. True confession, every time I hear that intro, it makes me giggle because there are people in my life who can't say my name without saying it exactly the way that intro says, where they say "Leigh Dow." I won't name names, but one of them is related to a person on our call today.

Thank you for joining us today. Cybersecurity is a very complex and serious market that's definitely exploding, and the demands on digital marketers to keep pace with that dramatic growth and services and solutions and versus competition definitely keeps us hopping on the Identiv marketing team. I thought maybe we could start with just quickly going around and telling us your name and what you do in marketing at Identiv. Maybe start with Allison.

Alison Rose (01:35):
Yeah, my name is Alison Rose. I just joined the Identiv marketing team. I'm in PR, so I'm tasked with writing press releases and just helping with generating content, creating content, reaching, doing outreach to the media and all that fun stuff.

Leigh Dow (01:55):
And Ali is having a very good day because she just scored a nice media placement for Identiv.

Alison Rose (01:59):
Woop woop!

Leigh Dow (02:00):
Temira, you want to go next?

Temira Kaser (02:02):
Absolutely. My name is Temira Kaser and I'm the performance marketing manager and social media for Identiv. I've been with the company for about a year and work with optimizing our processes and supporting all of the different marketing activities on a foundational level.

Leigh Dow (02:22):
Anja, you're up.

Anja Pellegrino (02:24):
Hey, I'm Anja Pellegrino and I'm the senior manager of brand strategy. I've been with Identiv for almost eight and a half years, having started out as a sole copywriter that quickly took ownership of the brand voice of the company.

Leigh Dow (02:38):

McKenna Boose (02:39):
So hi, I'm McKenna Boose. I'm the product marketing manager here at Identiv. I've been here for about three months, so super excited to be here. I support the premises side of the business by just providing market and competitive research while also driving and creating our account-based marketing campaigns.

Leigh Dow (02:57):
And Kathleen.

Kathleen Thompson (02:58):
Hi, my name is Kathleen Thompson. I am working on product marketing strategy for Identiv. I'm probably the newest on the team here at just under three weeks, so I will be digging in on a lot of the 2023 plan and looking at each of the distinct business units to see what type of marketing strategies we're going to employ over the next year.

Leigh Dow (03:23):
And not with us today is Ryane Burke, who is our global channel and partner program manager. Ryane is blissfully doing something that is blissful to her, not to me, but she's on vacation camping, which is her version of bliss, definitely not mine.

Alison Rose (03:44):

Leigh Dow (03:45):
So I wanted to maybe start with, what do you all like about working in the security industry? I know that for McKenna, her whole career has been in security. For me, Kathleen, Allison, Temira, not the case. Anja, you've been with the company for quite some time and you've been in the security industry, but not for your entire career, so maybe some of the things that you like about working in the security industry.

McKenna Boose (04:16):
I can go ahead and kick this off. So I think my favorite part is just the constant change and growth. I feel like this industry's very limitless and there's always new products, technology or solutions coming out almost every day or every week. And it's a really cool industry to be in because I'm just excited to see where we'll be in the next few years and where we're going to be at.

Anja Pellegrino (04:37):
Awesome. So I'm going to follow up McKenna. It's never boring, and that's the honest, albeit short answer. And looking at it a bit more deeply, I think the reason I like it is twofold. One, the technology is fluid, it's always changing. And again, it's never boring. We're in an industry that is perpetually innovating and planning, like McKenna said, for the next 5, 10, 50 years. And two, I like the people. Security technology is packed full of nerds and I'm a big fan of big brain.

Leigh Dow (05:06):
One of the things that I think is really interesting about security and not just security, but all of the different solutions that we have at Identiv, is that our three business units are very different in many ways. In the transponder side and RFID and NFC, we're very much deep into IoT and being a big part of connecting the IoT, which is limitless. In logical access, we're such a huge part of driving some of the things that are at the forefront of security, data security today, things like multifactor authentication, FIDO. And then in the physical access space, same thing. We are in some of the most secure buildings in the world, which is really interesting.

But what I think is a learning for me coming out of different industries is that every time I go to a trade show, no matter which piece of the business it is, everyone knows everyone. Most of the people who work in security tend to stay in security for their entire career, which is not true for some of the other industries that I've worked in. So trade shows are always really interesting to me because everyone knows everyone, or you could be standing with somebody in a booth and they'll be like, "Oh, there's my old boss and there's a guy I used to work with," which is just a unique experience that I haven't had in other industries.

Anja Pellegrino (06:32):
It's so true. Once you're in it, you never leave.

Leigh Dow (06:34):
So obviously we're responsible for communicating really complex technical topics and trying to break them down in a way that is more simplified. Not that the audience doesn't understand the complexity, but what I found in my years of marketing... I've pretty much always been in technology marketing, starting with when I started working at Intel, and I think one of the gifts that marketing people tend to have and what they bring to the industry is the ability to... It's really difficult to tell a technical story. It's difficult to find people who can pick up a technical story and tell it in a way that people want to read it or hear about it. And so for me, I think that that is one of our most complex challenges that we have whenever we're trying to bring a new product or a new solution to life.

Anja Pellegrino (07:32):
Absolutely Leigh, I couldn't agree with you more. I've been writing, [inaudible 00:07:37] hold a pencil, so if I've learned anything in my nearly four decades of doing so, it's that whittling down those complex technical topics down to a story that is clear and accessible and human is what I'm always striving towards and it's been my top priority since day one in creating content for Identiv. It's absorbing that source material, understanding the tech, then transforming that into a story that can speak to someone who has maybe never heard of multifactor authentication or radio frequency identification or FIDO, what have you. And I think I'm extra qualified to do this because security was not my background, like you mentioned earlier. I came to Identiv from lifestyle and tourism publications and medical nonprofit work. I majored in English, creative writing, I minored in Spanish poetry, so it's like as if I am my own audience, if that makes sense.

Leigh Dow (08:28):
You're a unicorn.

Anja Pellegrino (08:28):
I'm a unicorn. That's a compliment coming from the biggest unicorn I know.

Leigh Dow (08:39):
There are often times in this industry where I do feel like a unicorn, that's for sure. So I think that all of you... Temira is not as involved in the creative element of what we do or the storytelling part of what we do, but Temira, a lot of what you do informs how we tell that story. So when you're thinking about, in performance marketing and digital marketing management, all the data that we have at our disposal now to not only identify, as McKenna mentioned earlier, account-based marketing, but to identify which accounts we should be focused on, but also what story to tell. And the data is a really huge component of that that a lot of marketing teams are still really trying to learn how to do that better.

Temira Kaser (09:30):
Yes, definitely, Leigh. One of the things that all of the data and the backend systems allow us to do is meet our customers where they are in their specific journey with the right messaging, with the right content, and provide them the next steps along the way to some of their decision-making.

Leigh Dow (09:46):
I think that with you doing that work and bringing that to the team and helping to inform how we go to market and how we tell those stories and, like you said, which pieces of content we use at what part of the journey, I think it's really interesting to see also the difference between content that we create, that is mostly in Anja's purview and then the content that we pitch and the stories that we pitch in Allison's world, and how the similarities and differences. Because if you think about taking something very complex and breaking it down for an audience that's already interested in security, that's one thing, and creating content or blog posts and telling a story around it. And then you have to take that and really basically hone in even more to the really salient point to do the pitch. Right, Allison?

Alison Rose (10:45):
Yeah. And this content is more challenging than any other content, I would say. Although there are a lot of tech outlets and places that you can target, but telling a really significant and interesting story with the subject matter, even to tech outlets, can be tough because tech is so big.

Leigh Dow (11:09):
Yeah. It's very diverse.

Alison Rose (11:10):
Yeah. It's very diverse and you can get lost in it.

Leigh Dow (11:14):
When we target outlets that are like RFID Journal, obviously that's what they live and breathe all day long, so they have a different kind of understanding. But when you're trying to target a tech writer who maybe doesn't understand multifactor authentication, and it's not something that they talk about all day, or RIFD or NFC, that can be really challenging to get the stories placed. Anja, what do you think are the elements that go into telling a compelling story? Is it talking more about how humans use the tech? Is it more so than what the tech is itself?

Anja Pellegrino (11:51):
I think it's a combination of the two. And when I'm writing or assigning something out to someone else, it's always thinking about breaking it down first. How does the tech work? What actually is the technology, and trying to take as much of the complexity out of that as possible. And then to your first point, it's the human experience with that technology, so it's about how it's affecting or changing or transforming our everyday lives. So that's really the undercurrent that I'm trying to make sure gets buried into each piece that we're putting out there.

Leigh Dow (12:27):
So Temira mentioned the customer journey and the data that informs what that journey is and then what we should do about it. Kathleen, I know you've done a lot of work, even in the short time that you've been with Identiv around customer journeys. Why is that important?

Kathleen Thompson (12:42):
Well, I think it's really important to understand the problems that your audience might be trying to solve with technology and then delivering the messages that speak to those solutions. So trying to communicate how Identiv has a solution that might solve their problem at each stage of that journey is where it gets really important and it's going to be different from market segment to market segment. A Problem we are trying to solve for somebody who's interested in tamper resistance on packaging is going to be very different than the person who's trying to track quantities on a pharmaceutical device, so you really want to make sure that you're helping them understand how your technology solves their distinct problems.

Leigh Dow (13:32):
And McKenna, for you, you moved from residential security to commercial security. How has that been, that transition?

McKenna Boose (13:42):
I think it was really a challenge at first, realizing who the end user was. Obviously someone who is just trying to screw their home needs different things than someone in a commercial building, so I think the messaging and getting that consumer to want to buy your product was the biggest change for me when doing that switch.

Leigh Dow (14:04):
Yeah, definitely switching from B2C to B2B is a big difference from a marketing standpoint. I know that all of us look to a lot of B2C companies, ones that aren't even in our industry, for inspiration. I tend to... Me personally, I really lean into looking at sports and entertainment for inspiration because they're almost always at the forefront of digital marketing and using technology to do experiential marketing. So I always look to those for inspiration, what are some of the industries or companies that you look at for inspiration? That's a question for everybody.

Anja Pellegrino (14:43):
Don't everyone jump on it at once.

Leigh Dow (14:45):
Well, like I said, sports and entertainment. I mean, for me, that seems like an obvious.

Alison Rose (14:49):
For me it's fashion.

Leigh Dow (14:50):
Oh, I could see that.

Anja Pellegrino (14:52):
That's definitely an obvious, I think that's an obvious for both of you. I'm always inspired by music.

Leigh Dow (14:57):
Oh, yeah.

Anja Pellegrino (14:57):
And I don't necessarily know that's a direct correlation. It's just listening to different types of music gets me inspired to write about different things. So it just drives the energy when I'm creating content, I guess.

Leigh Dow (15:12):
I know. You got me turned on to... What is it the hiphop? What was it? I can't remember.

Anja Pellegrino (15:17):
It is lo-fi hip hop.

Leigh Dow (15:20):
Lo-fi hiphop.

Anja Pellegrino (15:20):

Leigh Dow (15:20):

Anja Pellegrino (15:21):
Lo-fi hiphop girl. That YouTube channel is my church during my workday, for sure.

Leigh Dow (15:30):
Yeah. I remember you saying that. A lot of times, if I have to focus, I listen to haptic kind of stuff, but I did tune into the lo-fi hiphop and I really liked it, it's definitely good for just getting you into that creative mindset. And for me, and maybe for all of us, but I know just for me personally, I spend the majority of my day in my analytic brain. It's just the nature of my job, the metrics matter and how they impact what we do impacts revenue matters and so I spend a lot of my day in my analytic brain. I'm sure Temira does as well because of the nature of her role. So when I do have to do creative direction or flip to the creative side, I really have to do a lot to shift my mindset to be able to be more creative and change my approach to what we're trying to accomplish. What about the rest of you? Do you guys find that you have to do that as well?

Kathleen Thompson (16:30):
Oh, 100%. I stand instead of sit. I have to change my environment completely to force my brain to think differently.

Anja Pellegrino (16:39):
I think that's so funny as I'm standing right now. As I'm shaking my head and agreeing with what Leigh just said, actually I'm doing the opposite. So when I have to turn on my analytical brain, I turn off all of the other distractions. I can't listen to music, I have to sit down.

Alison Rose (16:39):

Anja Pellegrino (16:54):
Otherwise I'm Kathleen and I'm standing at my desk or I'm pacing or I'm listening to music or I'm dancing while I'm writing. So it's just... Yeah.

Leigh Dow (17:02):
Well, and I guess mine is so severe that pretty much everyone who's on this session knows that I wake up with my best ideas, creatively. And apparently I have to completely shut down and go to sleep in order for my creative brain to be like, "Okay, here's what we're going to do."

Kathleen Thompson (17:23):
So true.

Anja Pellegrino (17:23):
We do know this about you. Yeah.

Alison Rose (17:25):
She dreams it.

Leigh Dow (17:25):
I do. I dream it and then I wake up and I'm like, "Oh, my gosh, that's it. That's what we should be doing."

Anja Pellegrino (17:30):
Leigh has a problem, we're just like, "Go to sleep. You'll figure it out."

Leigh Dow (17:32):
Yeah. Go to sleep, you'll figure it out.

Alison Rose (17:34):
Well, I once told her that she's like a vampire. I'm like, "Okay, you're up really early, but you were up really late last night too. What is happening? Are you one of those..."

Kathleen Thompson (17:44):
She's a vampire unicorn, Allison.

Alison Rose (17:45):
Yes, exactly.

Kathleen Thompson (17:47):
I don't know if that's a thing, but it is now.

Anja Pellegrino (17:48):
It is now.

Leigh Dow (17:50):
I'm one of those people, though, that when I go to sleep... I mean, I could fall asleep anytime, anywhere, any place. But when I do go to sleep, it's less than 30 seconds and I'm out.

Anja Pellegrino (18:02):
And this is why we hate you.

Leigh Dow (18:04):
Yeah. I've heard that before. I don't think I've taken melatonin a day in my life.

Kathleen Thompson (18:13):
So good.

Leigh Dow (18:13):
So in this industry, what are some of the biggest challenges? I know that I get asked a lot about the whole unicorn thing and I do get a lot of media inquiries about being a woman in security and being a woman in a leadership role in security. And so I would say that I've been a woman in tech for many decades, more than I'd like to say out loud, and I find that it's definitely gotten better. And in security I find that it really just depends on the event or the technology. In physical access control, I've definitely been in some events where I really do feel like a unicorn, that I might be one of... I could count on one hand how many women are there. And the only good part about that is that the bathroom is never crowded. I never have to wait in line.

Anja Pellegrino (19:08):
So one place.

Leigh Dow (19:09):
Yeah, I know. So that has its challenges. But apart from that, I don't really get asked a lot about some of the bigger challenges in marketing. And for me, I think that it's just that... Actually Kathleen and I just had this conversation yesterday where I was saying that I'm still very hands on even if I'm at an executive role and I'm okay with that because marketing changes so rapidly now, especially the digital side of it, that I don't feel like I would be able to keep up with my skillset and really trying to push the boundaries of what's next and where we can excel and like I said, take those next steps, if I wasn't. So that for me is one of the challenges in marketing, is just the rapid change, especially with digital technologies and how we get messages out there. What about for some of you guys?

Kathleen Thompson (20:00):
I mean, I would agree with what you just said. Just feeling like you know the best ways to deliver those messages to your audiences, you have to keep up with the changing in technology so that you are hitting them where they're at and communicating through the channels that they want to receive the messages. So for me, that's the biggest challenge, just trying to make sure that I'm understanding all the things that are impacting our audience.

Leigh Dow (20:32):
I also think, not necessarily Identiv but just in general, a lot of times marketing doesn't have as much access to the customer or the end user as the sales team does and really needing a lot of that communication and feedback to be given to us on what are the customer pain points and what are the problems that they're trying to solve. And especially when you sell through a channel rather than directly to an end user, really understanding what that end user's looking for and how to message that.

Anja Pellegrino (21:06):
For sure. Absolutely. And I won't name names, but for me the biggest challenge, and I love the people I work with, you know this, but everyone thinks they know everything about marketing.

Leigh Dow (21:18):
Oh, I know.

Anja Pellegrino (21:19):

Alison Rose (21:21):
When they're not in marketing.

Anja Pellegrino (21:23):
[inaudible 00:21:23] Yeah. You could hear this collective, "Ugh," from everyone as soon as I said that. So yeah.

McKenna Boose (21:29):
I muted myself.

Leigh Dow (21:31):
I think that's probably true for most professions, right? I mean, my sister is a physician and when I try to ask her physician questions, she's like, "Ugh, don't tell me what Dr. Google said." Yeah. So yeah, no, I feel that pain a lot. And you want people to be collaborative and you want them to be interested in what we do, but it would be like me walking up to an engineer and being like, "Are you sure you want to put that part there?"

Anja Pellegrino (22:02):
Right. I wish you would never do.

Leigh Dow (22:04):
No, never.

Anja Pellegrino (22:05):
But when the roles are reversed, it feels... And I think it's a great thing that we as a team or that marketing as an industry is an approachable piece of the puzzle. We are collaborative. That's our job, is to work with all of these teams and to stay interconnected. But at the same time, that means you keep that door open, that you almost feel like you're constantly fighting to be accepted as the expert, even if you've been immersed in your field for 25 years.

Leigh Dow (22:34):
Oh, yeah. I remember one time I was having a conversation with somebody and they were telling someone, "Oh, well maybe you should just go work with Leigh." And I was like, "This person has no marketing background whatsoever, no PR background, no education in any of those things, not even a degree in business." And I was like, "So is there some decades of experience that they have that I'm not aware of?" And the response I got was, "Well, but you just need a personality."

Anja Pellegrino (23:04):
Yeah, "But anyone can do it."

Leigh Dow (23:05):
Anyone can do it.

Anja Pellegrino (23:06):
Anyone can do it.

Leigh Dow (23:08):
And I just don't think people realize today, if they're not working in marketing, how much data and metrics go into what we do. In fact, a lot of times when I interview people, for the last probably 10 years or more, for certain jobs, I'll ask them things like what are their Excel skills? What are their data skills? And sometimes I get met with blank stares and I'm like, "Well, then you're not a marketer." Marketing really has a lot of science behind it, more so than ever, so if you don't know how to look at metrics and analytics and actually not tell the weather, but talk about what they mean and what we should do about it, that's something that all marketers need to have in their skillset today. So since it's such a fast moving industry, what do you think are the best ways to deliver the brand value to target audiences in a way that really hits the right message at the right time?

Anja Pellegrino (24:09):
I have something to say about this. I don't know, it may be what I do day in and day out, but you have to stay hyperconnected to what's happening in the industry, which of course means being plugged into the digital news cycle and social media. And that is pretty counterintuitive to my personality. Everyone on this call knows that I'm highly anxious and empathetic, so staying open to that influx of information in today's digital transformation can be overwhelming on my own nervous system, but it's those same personality traits which hopefully make me a decent content creator. But I have to push myself to stay plugged in. That doesn't necessarily come naturally to me.

Kathleen Thompson (24:51):
And I would say working with the type of data that Temira is sharing with the team on a regular basis helps identify exactly what spots Anja needs to plug that content into.

Anja Pellegrino (25:03):

Leigh Dow (25:05):
Well, in such a welcome addition to the team in the last year. Because I know that I spent a lot of time, like I said, in the metrics and looking at that stuff, but there are things where a problem or a challenge or trying to figure something out just seems so difficult and Temira will just be like, "Well, we should just do it this way." I'm like, "Why didn't I think of that? That's right, we should do it that way."

Anja Pellegrino (25:29):
We've joked about her job title actually being professional problem solver.

Leigh Dow (25:33):
Oh, a hundred percent.

Anja Pellegrino (25:35):
She's our fix. She's our fixer.

Leigh Dow (25:37):

Temira Kaser (25:37):
A lot of tools in the tool belt.

Leigh Dow (25:40):
Yeah. I'm going to start calling you a fixer. If I'm a unicorn, you're a fixer. There you go.

Anja Pellegrino (25:40):

Leigh Dow (25:46):
So what are some of the trends that are happening in the industry right now that you're excited about? I personally think FIDO is going to have a moment in the next few years, definitely multifactor authentication. I know that we're really making a lot of investment and growth in the RFID NFC space. Physical access control has new products coming and has, like I said, securing some of the world's most secure buildings and that's always fascinating to me. So what are some of the trends that are happening that you guys are excited about?

Anja Pellegrino (26:20):
Well, so you mentioned all the security trends. I'm going to think about it from a marketing standpoint, which goes across all those pieces. Authentic, human, social content, short form video, AI automation, podcasts, chat bots, influencers, all of that stuff is top on my list of really wanting to tap into as we're going into 2023 because we finally have the space to be creative to do so.

Leigh Dow (26:48):
Definitely. I also am very interested, as I write about a lot, in Web 3.0 is and the Metaverse. And for me, it's more there were so many mistakes made on the human level and the social level in building out social networks, things that we just didn't know what we didn't know. And now that we know those things, let's not repeat them in building out a Metaverse. Let's make it a safe and inclusive space for everyone.

Anja Pellegrino (27:14):
We can do it better this time.

Leigh Dow (27:16):
Anybody else?

McKenna Boose (27:17):
I think just piggybacking of what Anja said, just the interactive content. I've been seeing a ton of it and it gets me engaged and wanting to learn more, click more, listen more, especially with podcasts like we're doing right now. Seeing a ton of TikToks and Instagram reels and short videos, whether that's coming through a advertisement or just an email, just giving enough information but not enough to make that person click and continue reading or listening.

Leigh Dow (27:47):
I can absolutely get lost in a TikTok cycle that takes me down a rabbit hole for hours. Hours.

Temira Kaser (27:56):
Instead of minutes? So can I.

Leigh Dow (27:57):
Yeah. I mean, especially now that TikTok is evolved from people just dancing. I mean, the fashion, the food. I can't tell you how many recipes I've made off TikTok that were delicious. I could literally spend hours going through TikTok and lose half my day.

McKenna Boose (28:19):
I feel like if I ever need to know something or I have a question about something, I'll always start at Google and then if that doesn't give me a good enough answer, I'll just go to TikTok and I can always find an answer, a video or something.

Leigh Dow (28:29):
I don't think my son would've successfully moved into his dorm without TikTok, that was his sole source of information. Not reading his emails from the school or anything like that, it was, "Oh yeah. I saw on TikTok that this is what they do."

Anja Pellegrino (28:42):
That's almost like our number one source of humanity, which is great.

Leigh Dow (28:48):
Maybe troubling, but.

Anja Pellegrino (28:49):
But also be a little terrifying.

Leigh Dow (28:52):
Yeah. All right. Well, thank you all for joining us today. It's always... Because we're a remote team, we don't really all get on a call all together very often. We try to do it once a week, but usually we're focused on just stuff we have to get done, so it's always fun to just catch up with you guys and hear your insights and take on what's going on in our industry.

Alison Rose (29:18):
I mean, to be honest, we could be doing this for another four hours.

Leigh Dow (29:21):
Oh, a hundred percent. Absolutely.

Alison Rose (29:22):<
With this team.

Anja Pellegrino (29:23):
Easily. Easily.

Leigh Dow (29:24):
Yeah. Good vibes. Good vibes.

Anja Pellegrino (29:26):
Good vibes.

Alison Rose (29:26):
For sure.

Leigh Dow (29:26):
All right.

Anja Pellegrino (29:28):
Thanks for having us.

Leigh Dow (29:28):
Yeah. And for our audience, if you like this podcast, please like and subscribe and thank you all for joining us today. And I'm sure I'll talk to you all a thousand more times today.

Anja Pellegrino (29:40):
You bet.

Leigh Dow (29:41):

Alison Rose (29:41):

Anja Pellegrino (29:41):
Thank you.

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