When it comes to selling sensitive solutions like in the case of cyber security products and services, trust is key. To build trust, you must establish authority for your brand. With thousands of cyber security vendors in the market battling over the attention of the same personas, cyber security providers can't afford to miss opportunities to build a trust-worthy brand.
One of the best ways to gain authority is through winning industry awards. Even if your startup does not have a lot of social proof that can be used to boost your brand, you can still win cyber security awards for your innovation, different approach, or unique story.
However, the industry awards landscape is surprisingly high velocity and busy. There are thousands of awards and hundreds of which are in the information technology space. Every year new award organizers take center stage and others close the curtains for good. In addition, almost every year organizers make small or big changes from the previous year such as different deadlines, eligibility criteria, award categories, fees, and so on.
Not every award fits every business
Just like awards, companies and their audiences vary between operational regions, industries, categories, goals, etc. When creating an award plan for the year, marketers should consider the factors above as well as additional factors.
The nature of industry awards has changed a lot over the past couple of years - companies doubling down on digital channels during COVID changed the landscape of the industry awards in cyber security. Awards that were traditionally granted during physical ceremonies took a backseat for virtual ceremonies.
With all these micro and macro changes, it is completely understandable why security providers struggle to identify which awards are worth their time and money, or to even know which awards are out there. For cyber startups it’s all the more difficult as they have limited resources for marketing, only a few people are responsible for managing the entire marketing function.
The efforts - expertise paradox
Planning, applying and winning industry awards requires both broad and depth types of effort. Which creates a paradox: The people who are tasked with the tedious and manual work of researching and identifying relevant industry award opportunities are usually the junior marketers. However, juniors do not have the needed knowledge and experience to evaluate any of the awards they find. Even for veteran marketers it would take several days every month to figure out which industry awards are worth their time. But since it’s up to the junior marketers to create and validate their own work, the results are usually a never-ending, unactionable excel sheets with missing information that becomes outdates before it's ever finished.
Most cyber-focused PR agencies are more concerned with press, media and journalist relations, and do not offer solutions for vendors to gain authority through industry awards. The agencies usually come up with a partial list made by their junior staff as well. There’s no way around it: the ever-changing landscape of industry awards requires a significant allocation of resources.
Taking the pain away
A new service is emerging in the cyber security space which seems to be taking away this pain for marketers. Cyber Security Awards-as-a-Service helps security vendors make sense of the hectic landscape of industry awards by doing the dirty work for them - identifying the most relevant opportunities and putting them into structure with a tactical plan, budget estimation and clear timeline.
Security Awards Guru pioneers this field as it conducts extensive, ongoing research to identify, categorize and prioritize security, technology, and business awards. Then, they cross their database with their customer information such as geography, audience, goals, categories, solution, budget, etc. to highlight the absolute most relevant award opportunities. This is then translated into a detailed plan that includes expected budget, action timeline, and needed actions.
A predefined award plan helps cyber marketers in several ways:
Budget approvals – When marketers know in advance exactly how much they will spend on awards in a given year, it makes it easier for them to get a budget approved by procurement and senior management.
Access to experience – Instead of making assumptions, working with award experts that draw on “award-winning experience” will focus the team on the most impactful awards.
Value that replaces a part-time employee – Partnering with an Awards-as-a-Service provider saves days of labor that equals a part-time employee.
Save submission fees - Usually marketers remember submitting to awards too little too late. Having a plan and calendar reminders helps marketers to not miss early bird submission with lower rates.
In addition to a plan, Awards-as-a-Service may include additional services such as drafting application, real-time alerts of awards ad changes, promotion guidelines to publish awards wins, and consultations.
To sum, industry awards are a critical component of any successful marketing strategy in cyber security. In a rapidly changing landscape of industry specific opportunities for recognition like awards, companies, and especially startups, don’t have much choice but to outsource these efforts. Cyber security awards-as-a-service is taking away the research, evaluation, reminders and applications that startups could not have done themselves.