Several of my previous columns in this space have discussed how you can best brand and market yourself to advance your security career. This month my focus is on an often-overlooked area: development of an internal marketing and branding effort in support of your security program initiatives.
I very rarely see “the ability to market or sell” listed as required skills on security job descriptions. These activities do not come naturally to many security executives and are not necessarily comfortable behaviors. Often, the extroversion required for success in marketing and selling is a contradiction to previous security career functions and experience.
However, you must be able to successfully market and sell to advance your security career.
Begin by asking yourself if your internal customers, including your organization’s leadership team, stakeholders, employees and suppliers are buying what you are selling regarding your security strategy. The answer to this is often more obvious if you are new in your role or launching program initiatives not previously seen in your organization.
Should the time come when your organization’s functions and personal are under financial scrutiny, you do not want to be leading a program that no one either understands or perceives has value. You must develop awareness.
Start with a clear and comprehensive understanding of your customers as all good marketing plans do. Your goal is to be aligned with your organization’s culture and operating and delivery methods.
Develop an understanding of how to obtain internal buy-in. Construct a marketing assessment to obtain customer input, feedback and recommendations. This activity needs to be a continuous, dynamic effort and should supplement your metrics surrounding program success.
This execution and success will be especially critical should your organization undergoes restructuring, realignment or a change in leadership. Further, significant organizational change may be an opportunity to initiate your marketing strategy, in effect choosing the best time to launch for achievement of maximum customer awareness and buy-in.
Take advantage of any opportunity to engage with internal department functions to leverage the linkage between external and internal marketing efforts. This will allow you to take advantage of internal resources to develop messaging strategies and deliver information using a variety of media. It also provides a chance to educate, gather customer feedback and develop internal sponsors.
Internal partners such as these are invaluable, especially if you are employed in a large, multi-geographic complex organization. It allows you to weave your message and services into the existing infrastructure. Remember, there is no substitution for personal contact to support even the most sophisticated materials and media efforts, so work to develop strong internal partnerships.
Successful integration of internal marketing and branding of your programs supports a positive experience for all. It yields additional opportunities to develop key relationships, build brand awareness and gain a deeper understanding of your organization. This ultimately helps shape employees’ views of your program efforts and frames you as a successful leader of a function that brings value.