Let’s Talk Security: Three Critical Mistakes to Avoid at RSA 2016

Last year was a tough one (although some might say exciting) for security professionals, and 2016 doesn’t look like it’s going to be any quieter. This year’s RSA conference is taking place at the end of February and many of the finest minds in security will be present at the show, discussing the key issues the industry needs to solve.

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RSA will be very influential in setting the direction of thinking among tech buyers during 2016. For all the influence of online digital channels, in-person events are still a great way for vendors to drive awareness and buyer preference. Blanc & Otus’ own B2B technology buyer research shows that events remain highly influential when it comes to a buyer’s selection of technology solutions. In fact, our data shows that event attendance was the fourth most influential factor on a B2B tech buyer’s choice of technology solution, just behind private consultation with an analyst, reading analyst reports and word of mouth from a peer. In-person events still matter, folks!

RSA’s been getting larger every year, and 2016 may well be its biggest yet given the growing focus organizations are putting on improving security defenses. As the security industry’s flagship show, RSA’s a great opportunity for security vendors to reach prospective customers, but the sheer size of the event also makes it challenging to stand out and cut through the noise. If this is your first RSA show, here are three mistakes to avoid:

  • Doing Everything Onsite: Onsite meetings can be tricky due to the sheer foot traffic at the event. RSA veterans are painfully aware of how hard it can be to find good meeting spots. If you’re looking to brief analysts and journalists on your RSA-related announcements, then running pre-briefings in the weeks prior to the show is a smart approach. Many of the best meeting rooms will be booked out half a year in advance. Popular meeting spots like Samovar Tea House are fiercely contested. Some analyst firms are even mandating that their analysts don’t take formal vendor briefings during the show. So book your pre-briefing time with the analysts now, as Q1 is one of the busiest time of year for security focused analysts. Once the pre-briefing is done, you can still offer to meet the analyst for a quick – and more relaxed – follow up discussion over a drink at the show.
  • Guessing What Will Resonate With Buyers: Ensure your content marketing, sales and PR efforts are aligned on the topics that matter most to buyers. Security is one of the fastest moving segments of IT and the pace of change continues to increase, so buyer needs continually evolve. Many decision makers will be finalizing their plans for the year ahead, or refreshing their technology portfolios. Our advice to clients is don’t guess, research. Run inquiries with industry analysts and get a level set on what their end user clients are asking them about. Poll your customer base as well. Now is a great time to get a refresh on what end buyers care about most in 2016.
  • Indulging in Product Tunnel Vision: There’s been a lot of talk about how the hackers are in the ascendant and how security needs to change. Much of this goes back to the fact that simply layering on more and more products alone won’t solve all of the threats we face today. Part of this is architectural (how IT is designed and managed), another aspect is organizational (how security is approached by the business), and some of it is behavioral (people randomly clicking on things they shouldn’t). Many vendors make the mistake of over focusing on their new widget’s speeds and feeds at the expense of broader issues. Not only does over focusing on product features make many vendors sound the same, it also misses out many interesting, fundamental discussions that buyers want to hear about how – such as how to best organize their security strategies, teams and initiatives. In short, their needs trump your features. The shift towards digital business models only increases the importance of people and process aspects of technology success, so make sure your product narrative and messages also address people and process implications.

Each year the Blanc & Otus Analyst Relations team produces an RSA Survival Memo. It gives communications teams advice on B2B buyer priorities, how to maximize value from the show and how vendors can begin to differentiate their marketing narratives for best effect – at RSA and beyond. We’re busy working on this year’s version and if you’d like to receive a copy, please drop me a line at tris.clark@blancandotus.com