When We Connect in Meaningful Ways, We Create Active Defenders | Ryan Cloutier
The best security controls are employees who are active participants in the defense of the organization.
When I began researching security professionals I wanted to connect with and begin building relationships with, Ryan Cloutier, President of SecurityStudio, was at the top of my list.
Because, like me, he believes in the mission before money vs. profit-at-all costs.
Part of Ryan’s motivation and the battle of things he fights against are shady marketing tactics, misleading messages, and unauthentic relationships that add more stress to his life.
In this episode, I had a brutally honest conversation with Ryan on what motivates him, what his challenges are, what vendors do that piss him off, and the alternatives.
🔥 If you focus on the mission, you will make the money.
“If it's all about how much can I squeeze out of this person today to hit a quota, or can I get my attendance high enough? Because I misled them about what they were going to come to learn in my marketing material. You know, that kind of stuff is part of my motivation, but it's also part of the battle of, of things I fight against.”
🔥 There is no other industry that is allowed to give a 100% guarantee of something without first being able to scientifically prove that that's true.
“What marketers could stand to learn is that they are a lot of times making claims that are outright lies. There's actually a law on the books regarding advertising and truth in advertising. And that law seems not to apply to our industry.
Part of the problem that, that marketers run into when they're trying to engage someone like myself, is that they're, they're coming at it from the wrong angle. I know that sales slick that says a hundred percent stops ransomware can't possibly be true.
It's, it's literally impossible. So, now you've already entered the conversation on the wrong foot, right?
Marketers that reach out and say, how can I learn from you? What can I learn from you? Okay. Those folks get time. Those folks get attention. ‘I want to learn how to do this better,’ will go much further than, ‘Hey, let me force my way into your inbox with a very poorly crafted email that you can clearly tell was sent to a million other people or, you know, trying to calendar hijack.'“
🔥 Marketing in the cybersecurity industry has the opportunity to evolve and improve if people take the time to build relationships.
“Marketing in our industry can evolve and improve if you take time to build the relationship, take time to understand the motivations of that individual.
And I know this sounds hard to do at scale. But it's not. Most humans will fit into some generalized category, right? There are people that are driven by, uh, promotions and, and growing the team and, and self-interest, and, and dollars. There's a whole other group of us that are driven by something greater.
And if you want to get into our group, it has to be about how you're going to help, how you're going to serve.”
🔥 What Ryan hates most: The mafioso type of behavior in the cybersecurity industry and the victimization of clients.
“What I despise about the industry is the mafioso type of behavior, the very criminal-like behavior that I see demonstrated. These people [cyber victims] are scared. A lot of times when we meet them, it's at, uh, at one of their worst moments, their businesses is in the middle of being taken down by cybercriminals.
And they don't know if they can feed their colleagues that next morning. They don't know if they're going to stay in business. And instead of coming in and providing help, we come in and shove a bunch of tools in their face and a bunch of, of high buck consulting that doesn't actually move the needle.
So, it's the victimization of the clients and the customers that I hate about our industry.”
🔥 One of the biggest challenges in the cybersecurity industry today is that we do not speak human being.
“When we talk tech, we are missing opportunities every minute, every hour, and every day to connect in meaningful ways with the people we've been charged with.
And by connecting with them in a meaningful way, we actually create an active defender and the best security control that anybody can have are employees who are active participants in the defense of the organization. But the only way that I have found to achieve that is through personal understanding of what drives that human and then speaking human.
That's my biggest challenge. That's what I fight every day is, ‘how do I simplify this? How do I humanize this so that we can start having conversations?’ It's not that people don't want to protect themselves. They just don't understand the ‘why’ it's important.”
🔥 The way an organization or vendor treats their employees impacts security practioners’ decision in the buyers journey.
“I go to Glassdoor. How do they treat their employees? This will tell me a lot about whether I want to do business with them or not. I'm also very interested in beyond the product. I'm interested in how the business does business.
How do you treat your people? Because how you treat your people is generally a direct reflection of how you're going to treat your customers. I'll do my homework. I'll look to see, are there disgruntled people on Twitter, talking trash about them?”
🔥 Your messaging needs to cater to multiple segments in your target account; you need to get double buy-in these days.
“The challenge, I think, that marketing has is there's too much broad stroke marketing, where it's like trying to hit everybody at once with a single message where I think there's more nuanced messaging.
In most experiences that I've had, the person that's going to use the tool doesn't want the tool, the tool generally doesn't get purchased, but the person using it may not have the purchasing authority. You've got to get that double buy-in and I do believe those are different messages.”
🔥 Ungate your content.
“I can give you one thing today that every marketer could do, every vendor could do today, that would absolutely improve the way they're viewed by the community and would open the door for more business and that's get rid of your content gate. I know that it's there to collect the leads. But if you guys are keeping up in another year or so tracking of anything's going away anyhow, so it's time to make that early shift.
It's a relationship game. You're not gonna be able to track clicks. You're not going to be able to put cookies on things. This, this is going away, the shift in privacy we've already seen Google. They failed at their first attempt. We were hopeful they were successful in their second, but get rid of the gate.
If you get rid of the gate, they, they will come to you.”
🔥 Relationship capital will always generate more financial capital.
“For taking the first step to getting to know the buyer, do your research, do your research, social engineering 101.
A technique that I found that works very well is, you know, see if there are any news stories about them and not just national news stories, not just InfoSec, maybe they're the basketball coach of their kid's basketball team who just made it to the playoffs for the state championship - open with that.
‘Hey, I saw the Wildcats are doing great.’
Make it about them on a personal level.”
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