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Jun 9, 2020    Burn Book

Cybersecurity Startups & How To Stand Out In a $300B Industry


The State

I don’t really need to tell you that cybersecurity is all the rage… right? I feel like if you follow Rock Candy Media, Austin, on any social media or are signed up for our category marketing newsletters, you know what’s in, what’s struggling, and what’s on the flatline. But just in case, you should know that investment in cybersecurity startups was $1.7 billion in 2010 and $10 billion in 2019 (check it). And the industry itself will be worth around $300 billion by 2025; that’s including identity/access management, global information security, and risk management (check it).

The Stats

Yeah, 2010 doesn’t seem that long ago, but it’s been a decade. And in just 5 years, we’ll be looking at that $300B right in the face. Here’s what’s more surprising, though. Cybersecurity startups are not immune to the fact that half of them or more won’t make it to their 5th year.

The Question

So who will, one, make it to 2025 to be a part of the booming industry, and two, actually be seen in the ocean of competitors enough to call themselves profitable?

The Answer

Those that make it through 2020 will have a product enough investors find interesting. Those that make it to 2022 will have a product the market actually needs. Those that make it no later than 2024 will have clients, maybe even at an enterprise level. But those that make it to 2025 and onward– those are the startups that are already planning how they’re going to stand out. And having the actual best or most innovative product isn’t even the main factor.

Those 2025 startups will be 5 years into their evolving and future-proof plan of standing out through tactics like geographic segmentation, lead generation through Facebook ads and beyond, content syndication, local SEO, brand builder marketing, growth hacker marketing, and more. Every single one of those, including the ones not mentioned, are summed up in brand strategy (at least, if you’re doing it right).

WT_ is All That?

Summed up, expert brand strategy is one thing: conversion rate optimization. If you want a whole separate article on ‘What is CRO?’ we already have that. But if you want the quick version from this cybersecurity lens, here we go:

The market doesn’t care how innovative, solution-based, or efficient your product is. If you made it to 2025, the product has to be good. People want it, and you have it. What you’ll be fighting for isn’t proving you’re the best because you have ‘this function’ and ‘that testimonial’, you’ll be fighting for recognition in the ~vibe~ you give off. Yes, I said vibe. No, that’s not nebulous.

In the absolutely overflowing industry, your vibe (creative brand strategy) is the only thing that will stand out against competitors. If everyone’s product is equally good in its own way, it falls on your brand strategy to make the difference. How does your product and your company make people feel? What purpose in your sales cycle are those emotions serving? Do you go from making them feel scared before your product, and peace of mind after? Do you make them feel dumb for not having it, and then intellectual for buying in? What about once they’re in– how do you retain the correct emotions?

It’s not just taking a brand personality quiz and calling your product on the landing page “luxurious” or “rebellious” or “the greatest thing since Steve Jobs sliced bread.” It’s not just color psychology and A/B testing taglines. Future-proof brand strategy relies on both hard data/market research, and gut feelings. It relies on careful placement of keywords in ads, as well as careful injection of doubt surrounding your competitors.

It relies on keeping that VIBE cohesive across and between channels (omnichannel marketing): so no matter how cold or hot a lead is, no matter if they’re a word-of-mouth carrier or a C-Suite decision maker, no matter if they’re on a press article you got or your About page or your Instagram– they all feel the same emotions, leading them straight to understanding and wanting you, and keeping them following that line straight to the Buy or Demo button.

If You Didn’t Already Know I’m Gen Z, I’m About To Say ‘Vibe Check’

Just by being in cybersecurity, you do have an edge. People need you and they know it. But now that all your competitors have this edge too, brand strategy and vibe checks are the last way for you to stand out if you want to be part of the small percentage that makes it to 2025 and beyond.

All that said, of course there’s more research for you to do and some introspection you need to do with your brand.

Here’s a list of helpful articles to get you started:

What is CRO?

Breaking down your brand’s personal Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Direct vs. Indirect Marketing

Hoping an ad converts vs. making it convert

Making a brand “sticky”

Your Business Doesn’t Need an Ad, It Needs a Story

Or, instead of all that, just talk to some people that will look into all of it for you and your brand, and have already been doing this for over a decade. That’s us, obviously. You can look into us on Clutch, Psych Today, Forbes, FastCo, Cision, and others, but we also think our straight up case studies speak for themselves.

Or, if you and your cybersecurity startup are ready to get on our list for next quarter, have at it. We’re ready for you, and we’ll get you to 2025 like nobody’s business.

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