Leveraging Research to Elevate Brand Awareness & Generate Leads
SolarWinds, a leading provider of powerful and affordable IT management software, commissioned Market Connections to conduct a cybersecurity study that revealed malicious insider and outsider threats affecting federal agencies, even though they feel cybersecurity-ready.
SolarWinds has used this research and associated report, white paper and infographics for some advanced thought leadership marketing strategies that include publicity, social media promotions, webinars, speaking engagements and demand generation.
The study found that many agencies are still confronted by threats from careless and untrained insiders, and are tasked with mastering IT security despite organizational and budget challenges.
SolarWinds generated significant exposure, more than 500 leads and an award for this strategic thought leadership promotion:
- Press coverage – 21 articles in key online and print trade media
- More than 1,250 views of the research report on Slideshare
- More than 1,200 views of the infographics on Slideshare and LinkedIn
- Overall Best in Show award at the June 2014 AFCEA Cyber Conference Solutions Trail for a presentation leveraging the research and insights
Lisa M. Sherwin Wulf, Federal Marketing Leader at SolarWinds, shares in a Q&A details about how the company is leveraging the findings in unique and effective ways.
Q: Tell us about the research you implemented with Market Connections around internal and external cyber threats and federal agencies.
A: We wanted to launch a comprehensive thought leadership campaign that was grounded in research and showed the daily obstacles that federal agencies face when it comes to cybersecurity. We also wanted to gain insights from both federal IT and IT security professionals to give a more comprehensive view of the challenges our users face.
With the help of Market Connections, we implemented a blind online survey of 200 IT and IT security professional decision-makers in the federal government and military with regards to cyber preparedness. We found it interesting that 94 percent of respondents rated their agencies’ cybersecurity readiness as good or excellent, and many believe that they have the necessary cybersecurity tools, processes and policies already in place. Yet at the same time, people are agencies’ own biggest cybersecurity hazard, with external hacking as the top cybersecurity threat plaguing federal agencies, according to half of respondents.
Q: Why was this type of research project important to SolarWinds?
A: We wanted to see what was really happening in the marketplace and gain a better understanding of the challenges that our federal users face so we can do our best to address them with our technology.
Q: How did you use the results of the survey to advance your marketing efforts?
A: We worked closely with Market Connections and our corporate communications team to develop a multi-month campaign. What was exciting for us was that we had so much relevant content in the research results we were able to leverage it in multiple ways for a long period of time. Our users also responded very favorably to this information, which was relevant for both IT and cybersecurity departments.
We initially released the research through a press release, which helped us secure a significant amount of press coverage. In conjunction with this effort, we issued the full results through SlideShare, and hosted a webinar. We also shared the results through an online event and spoke at a conference about the results. We released a highly comprehensive white paper and infographic for lead generation.
Q: Do you find these types of research programs to be effective for marketing your cybersecurity capabilities?
A: Absolutely. These first few phases have helped enhance our overall brand awareness for SolarWinds federal, as well as increased demand generation activities, and helped us gain deeper insights into the needs and challenges of the federal IT and IT security communities. We have gotten feedback from our users that it was also was helpful information for them to assess their own security in comparison with other federal agencies.
Taking a strategic, thoughtful approach to this research program helped set us up for success. We knew the areas within cybersecurity we wanted to gather market intelligence on, how they aligned with SolarWinds and our users’ interests, as well as the types of marketing activities we wanted to leverage the research results for. From there, we structured the research and development of content accordingly.