Budget deficits, sequestration, program cut-backs—these are scary times for technology companies that view government agencies as a key vertical market. With spending down at all levels of government, many IT decisions have been slowed down or put on hold, especially those lacking the urgency of mission-critical programs. In the first half of the Federal government’s 2013 fiscal year, the IT budget across all agencies was cut by nearly $300 million. Yet, at least one type of government spending, cybersecurity, is going in the opposite direction, increasing year-after-year as cyber threats increase exponentially.
Marketing executives at enterprise companies who target government agencies need to increase their efforts with smart programs that break through the clutter in this increasingly crowded space. As companies recognize that their competitors are also ramping up efforts to go after these mission-critical opportunities, a business-as-usual approach to marketing could leave them behind the curve.
Scarcely a day goes by that doesn’t include news on new threats to government agencies from adversaries. According to US-CERT—the agency that tracks cyber attacks—cyber threats have increased 782 percent since 2006, from 5,500 to nearly 49,000 last year. Attacks jumped 13 percent last year alone. As a result, budgets are on the rise. A recent article in The Washington Post projects increases from $10 billion on cybersecurity contracts in 2012 to over $14 billion in 2017—a growth rate of 7.6 percent. A survey by Deltek of industry and government technology leaders finds that they expect cybersecurity spending to be the fastest growing area of Federal IT investment over the next few years.
IT company executives will find this new landscape a marketing challenge. As one Deltek official has stated, “it’s a chaotic, evolving field that isn’t easy to crack.” Federal buyers will look for industry partners who recognize the difficult budget environment and can offer technologies that combine hardware and software products into more efficient and effective security solutions.
Perhaps most important, companies need to be aware of their reputation within the government. As Deltek’s John Slye wrote in the Post, “Cybersecurity is a nerve-wracking subject for the federal agency leaders who will likely be held accountable for any highly public failures. Enabling the government to secure its technology resources on a tight budget is as much about trust and cultural acceptance as any new piece of hardware or software.”
That’s where effective marketing comes in. Marketing executives need to reinforce not only the technical capabilities of their products, but also the value that they can bring to the agencies. This requires multi-touch campaigns that alert government decision makers to their offerings, educate them on the benefits of their solutions, and that also bring a comfort level that communicates the reputation and trust that comes along with their brand.
This is what we call a smart campaign, and the messaging it contains must be as well thought out as the tactics used to deploy it. To be effective in this market, it must span direct outreach, have engaging and eye-catching digital assets, leverage social media channels, and employ both earned and paid media—all working together to reach decision-makers at each point in their journey from research to purchase.
It’s both an exciting time for companies with cybersecurity solutions and a challenging time for marketing executives. Learn more about cybersecurity marketing.