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Marketing the Mission within the Enterprise

Unconvinced that the success of a security program hinges on buy-in from affected groups, the security organization at many companies pays little attention to managing its relationship and image with executives and other end users. However, without proper marketing, the best-designed security program is doomed to failure; and if the program does not have the proper support from its customers, specific security projects are destined to fail before they are even developed.

Computer security competes with other business issues for attention and investment within an enterprise. At the same time, advances in technology increase the threat to computer security and augment the need for investment in better protection. Executives and other end users are primarily concerned with running their business efficiently and growing it where they can. To get them to buy into an overall security plan, IT must illustrate how failure in security will threaten their ability to run their businesses. To do so, IT should use the results of any security audit to demonstrate the dangers that currently exist and their possible impact on specific business units.

By applying marketing strategies, the security organization can communicate the nature of this relationship upward to executive management and outward to the rest of the enterprise staff—thereby speeding acceptance and compliance in the end-user communities and easing the work of security staff. Chapter 11 shows how this upward marketing was done recently at a large company.

Security managers typically do not have a lot of experience or training in marketing. Because marketing is crucial to implementing ESP, this chapter includes considerable detail on applying marketing strategies to establish a firm base of support for security concepts.

Developing a Security Marketing Program

Marketing efforts must be scaled to achievable levels. The information provided here gives a perspective on the role and application of marketing strategies to security management. Because of resource constraints, IT will probably not be able to develop perfect, detailed security marketing programs. However, to be successful, the security program must consider, plan, and implement practical upward and outward security marketing programs.

A typical marketing program includes the following:

  • Market identification—To identify the target audiences of marketing programs at a detailed level

  • Market research and analysis—To understand the business issues, needs, and focus of the target audience

  • Product packaging—To define the overall security plan and the related messages that communicate benefits in a way that can be accepted by the audience

  • Marketing communications—To create and deliver ongoing messages about security

Ideally, marketing involves effective two-way communication. The security manager must identify the audience, understand their needs, package solutions, and then communicate the solution.

Marketing begins in the first step of ESP and continues through the last. The first step of ESP illustrates how to plan upward and outward marketing programs designed to establish enterprise support for security efforts, and it begins implementing the upward marketing program. In the last step of the ESP process, when the security projects to be implemented have been determined and the messages that must be delivered are understood, the plans for the upward and outward marketing programs can be completed. The rest of this chapter explains how to use basic marketing tasks to market ESP within the enterprise. First, the basic tasks, which apply to both the outward and upward audiences, are discussed. Then the chapter examines how to tailor the tasks to each of these audiences. Table 1.1 shows the differences in marketing to the upward and outward audiences.

Tabl e 1. 1 Different Approaches in Marketing to Upward and Outward Audiences

Marketing Task

Both Audiences

Upward Audience

Outward Audience

Identifying the target audiences.


Specify the individual executives who are the key players in making decisions about investments in security.

Identify groups most affected by the security program. Audience is usually too large to specify individuals, except in the case of business unit managers in smaller organizations; the target of outward marketing is all nonexecutive staff.


Analyzing markets.

Get information from audiences to develop marketing program.

Conduct interviews; use surveys when the target audience is large.

Use surveys. Develop the market analysis on the basis of the groups most affected by the program. Identify key players at this level who can affect group response.


Determine what marketing methodology has succeeded in the past.

Determine how executives have reacted to other, similar nonsecurity plans, how much they supported past security initiatives, and their personal perspectives on security.

Determine groups' pattern of behavior in relation to security; if no history of security plans exists, determine behavior toward other types of projects and proposals.



Identify nonsecurity programs that are competing for resources.

Determine potential or perceived threats and benefits.


Developing product packages.

Bundle palatable functions with less-palatable functions to please the end user while advancing security.

Develop product packages that reduce risk to reasonable levels.

Develop product packages that improve, or at least do not interfere with, business units' ability to do business.


Developing marketing communications.

Develop ongoing communication. Develop a marketing communication plan. Include marketing materials and a production schedule for the presentations.

A schedule for follow-up meetings with executives.

A certification process. A schedule for measuring yourself and the effectiveness of your program.


Develop message media: Presentations and supporting materials.


White papers (tailored to different outward marketing audiences).




Briefing documents.












Desk cards.




Telephone stick-ons.








Internal mail.

Market Identification.

During this first step in the ESP process, security management needs to identify the audiences that must accept or may interfere with implementing a security system. End users, business unit managers, IT managers, and enterprise executives must accept the security systems in varying degrees, and the types of people that constitute these markets are substantially different.

Market Research and Analysis.

Market research involves collecting background and historical information, typically through surveys. Market research should result in an internal working document that consolidates all the research.

The security organization gathers some marketing information in the course of developing the enterprise security charter, identifying the target audiences, and implementing Steps 2 through 4 of ESP. The rest of this research involves additional effort, such as interviewing the identified market participants, which include executives and operational managers.

Security management should use the material gathered as part of the market identification phase to build a set of surveys—one for the upward market and one for the outward market. These surveys should become the basis for an ongoing survey program on target-audience satisfaction. The surveys should test the assumptions used during market identification, determine current attitudes toward IT security, and test the acceptability of potential solutions to known problems. Asking participants the following questions is appropriate in a formal or informal survey:

  • What is your position?

  • What is your background?

  • What are your security concerns?

  • How have you responded in the past to security initiatives?

  • What other programs have elicited your positive reaction?

  • What other programs are currently competing for funding and attention?

Good systems analysts often have the skills to ask the right questions and document requirements. In addition, enterprise help desk employees frequently are skilled in gathering information on end-user perceptions. Because of their involvement in managing service-level agreements, they may also have experience in conducting surveys. IT should interview help desk employees about their perspective on security issues and should solicit their help in gathering survey information.

One critical person to identify is a high-level sponsor for the marketing program. Security is an enterprise and executive concern. Perfect marketing will not erase all objections to an effective security implementation. Executive fiat should be a last resort, but the threat implicit in the existence of executive sponsorship makes the marketing efforts more effective.

An internal working document that consolidates the information gathered from the market research should be produced. Because some of the information is sensitive, it should be used for internal security management purposes only. As an internal document, it is less likely to cause controversy. This report should include the results of the research and be organized on the basis of the security organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (commonly known as SWOT analysis). Separate sections on the strengths and weaknesses of the security organization's political position within the enterprise (its friends, its enemies) should be included, along with the most significant threats to successful implementation and the greatest opportunities for maximizing success.

A history of support for security within the enterprise and a reputation for excellent end-user support are typical strengths. The broad implementation of a recently developed client/server application system without security considerations is a common weakness. Opportunities are the benefits that could result from the proper security implementation. Threats may include political issues for some enterprises, which is one reason this document is an internal working document only.

Product Packaging.

When security management has identified the market and researched its concerns and needs, the next step is to package the overall security plan so that it attracts support and minimizes opposition. Most likely, the audience has expressed diverse and conflicting needs and concerns. In marketing the overall mission, common issues and goals should be paramount. The mission should include broad, general suggestions to satisfy conflicting needs; these concepts should be disseminated clearly in the marketing communication efforts.

Security management should use market research to identify two or three security issues that are critical to all the business units in the enterprise, emphasizing these common concerns in presentations, briefing documents, white papers, posters, newsletter articles, and e-mail. Concentration on similarities rather than differences will facilitate buy-in.

Unfortunately, business units may have critical needs that conflict with the needs of other units; to successfully market the security program to the enterprise, these conflicts cannot be ignored. Security management should develop suggestions for addressing these conflicts in the overall security plan and promote them through marketing communications. However, not every conflict should get equal time and attention. Only issues critical to the unit's success should be given special attention. The other issues can be addressed and resolved as various security projects are developed, marketed, and implemented.

Marketing Communications.

An effective marketing program requires a marketing communication plan to describe what, how, and when to communicate to the audience. The plan should identify the basic messages to communicate. The basic messages are only the simple statements that the affected audience must understand to believe in the importance of the project.

Communication is the process of imparting information in such a way that another person willingly listens to and absorbs what is being said; skilled communication is the core of successful marketing. Security management needs to communicate the essence of the enterprise security mission so that the audience will listen to, absorb, and act on the information.

Messages should be simple! Whenever two people in different knowledge domains try to communicate, the communication must take a simple form. Therefore, low-level detail should be omitted. Messages should contain only words and phrases that others can immediately understand and accept. Again, clarity and simplicity are the goal.

The marketing should take the concept of the overall security program, add the common concerns and needs the market research identified, and develop from these some relatively simple statements that communicate the ways the security program will alleviate or mitigate those concerns. It should then discuss any conflicting needs and solutions that require mention in this early marketing strategy. These statements and the words in them should be short—no more than 10 to 15 words per statement, with words of no more than three syllables whenever possible.

Because this is a presentation put on by a security expert trying to communicate with people who are focused on business, the presenter must learn to communicate in business terms.

A marketing communication plan includes messages for each target audience and media for delivering the messages. The following media could be useful in conveying the marketing message, depending on the audience:

  • Presentations
  • Security briefing documents
  • Brochures
  • White papers
  • Posters
  • Newsletter articles
  • E-mail

Memos are not appropriate for delivery of marketing messages. While they can create a paper trail of marketing activities, in many organizations, employees are flooded by memos and tend to pay little attention to them, if they read them at all.

Presentations are the most effective marketing medium. Security project presentations should include war stories (tales of what happened to companies that did not do what is being proposed). These stories are located in newspapers and archives, as well as through Internet searches.

This marketing communication effort will help to build end users' understanding of how the IT security staff is meeting the differing, even conflicting, needs of the various audiences. It also provides an opportunity to communicate the professionalism, and business and service orientations, of the IT security staff. Professional trainers are the ideal people to develop and implement this communication plan unless security management has access to a professional marketing department.

Marketing Upward

Simply getting signatures on the enterprise security charter is not sufficient to ensure that upper management will make the proper investment in security. In fact, the security organization needs an ongoing, two-way communication program with upper management to accomplish the following:

  • Anticipate changing business needs

  • Evaluate the perceived effectiveness of current programs

  • Inform executives of security management actions designed to meet existing needs, the methods used to accomplish tasks, the projected cost, and the importance of projects

Identifying the Targets of Upward Marketing.

In upward marketing programs for midsize and large enterprises, security management must be specific about who the target audience is—the key players in making decisions about investments in security. They should know the five or ten individual executives who have the power to approve or reject a project.

The largest of enterprises may have as many as 100 key players. Gathering information for this number of individuals is unreasonable. In this case, it is preferable to employ the same techniques for targeting this audience as were used for targeting an outward audience.

Analyzing Upward Markets.

The following information is needed concerning all the identified executives:

  • How they reacted to security initiatives in the past—whether they gave effective support and promoted such projects to other executives or just gave vocal support but failed to provide any substantial enactment

  • How they reacted to similar (in terms of scope, purpose, and intent) nonsecurity initiatives that affected their departments in the past—their general attitudes on change

The Executives' Personal Perspectives on Security.

In addition, knowing the following information about the executives can be very helpful:

  • Where their focus is

  • What they see as the direction of the business

  • What they see as the needs of the business

  • How they would like to see the enterprise grow and flourish

At the same time, noting their personal interests is potentially useful. This information might aid in developing the communication plan.

In some cases, IT can garner this information through interviews. Understanding how the executives feel about security as a process and a priority within the organization is important.

Gathering data on other nonsecurity programs competing for the same dollars, time, and staff as the security program is equally important. Success will hinge on knowing which other projects might compete for resources. By identifying the competition, security management can find ways to make the programs work together and perhaps augment each other or develop methods to keep the programs from interfering with each other's resource requirements.

Developing Product Packages for Upward Markets.

Security managers should use the approach described earlier of packaging the security mission to both upward and outward markets.

Developing Upward Marketing Communications.

Although the product packaging will be the same for both upward and outward markets, the messages employed to market the package will differ for each market.

Creating Marketing Messages for the Upward Audience.

Enterprise executives require that the security functions reduce risk to reasonable levels; therefore, marketing messages to upper management should speak to this concern. The marketing messages should say nothing about firewalls or most other technical issues.

The plan may well install firewalls and additional servers and add some administrative overhead to manage those elements. All of that information goes in the proposal but not necessarily in the marketing messages. It certainly does not belong in marketing communication messages for the upward audience.

The Internet may be the one exception in keeping language nontechnical, since most computer users, and even nonusers, are familiar with this technology. Generally, executives do not have the technical background to appreciate these issues or they are just too busy to want that level of detail. They are more likely to want to see the bottom line—how security affects business. The marketing messages for a branch office security program might be as follows:

  • Allow dispersed employees to work from home without endangering corporate resources.

  • Stop as soon as possible all unsecured access that endangers corporate resources through branch office facilities.

The sequence is important in these statements: first it enables beneficial practices, and then it disables harmful practices. Putting the "stop" statement first would be a serious mistake, because the executives would perceive that they are supposed to stop a practice that provides a business function.

Using Media in Upward Marketing Communications.

Typically, security management communicates to upper management through white papers and memos. However, those media are the two worst for marketing to this audience. A white paper provides detailed technical analysis, and executives will not read it. The number of memos to executives in most organizations is overwhelming. While memos do provide an audit trail, most quickly end up in the circular file.

The best medium to use in communicating with executives is a presentation. If the project lead—generally, the security manager—does not have good presentation skills, he should enlist someone who does. The security manager does not have to be the one to give the security presentation to upper management. Another possible presenter is the person to whom the security manager reports. Either way, the material must be presented effectively. To make it effective, the presenter should hand out copies of the presentation materials to the executives at the beginning of the presentation. Table 1.2 shows a scheduling grid for marketing.

Along with war stories, the presenter should include alternative approaches and their impacts in the presentation to executives. When presenting the security plan to upper management, the speaker should provide multiple solutions. Upper management's role in the organization is to decide how to solve problems, frequently by choosing among several options. Although the best solution may seem obvious to the presenter, upper management should receive all reasonable solutions. The presenter certainly can give recommendations regarding the preferred solutions. However, because upper management's support for the overall philosophy of the security program is crucial, providing alternative approaches and an impact analysis for the alternatives is a necessary part of the marketing strategy.

Scheduling Production.

The marketing communication plan should include the production schedule for:

  • The presentation itself

  • Any supporting material

  • Any subsequent meetings with the executives about the plan

  • It is important to get on the calendar of the executives so that they can be prepared. This way they know the presentation is coming and they can plan to attend.

Security management should plan follow-up meetings with the executives to discuss the following:

  • Their reactions to the plan

  • How they would like to see this type of material presented in the future

  • Their decisions about the plan

Marketing Outward

For security to be effective, technology users—including end users and their managers—must buy into the program. Thus, security management must develop an internal marketing program for nonexecutive staff.

Table 1.2 A Scheduling Grid for Marketing









Follow-up meeting




Expected approval




Marketing is a tool for influencing people. The need to market does not detract from the legitimate authority of the security staff. Real security depends upon the willingness of end users to follow proper procedures and appropriately protect resources. The investment in marketing generates a return through lower training and enforcement costs. Willing participation is more efficient (and more secure) than grudging compliance.

Identifying the Targets of Outward Marketing.

In outward marketing, market identification cannot consist of descriptions of individuals, except business unit managers in smaller organizations. In other cases, the organization is simply too large to target individuals. Instead, security management should develop a list of affected organizational groups and staff.

Analyzing Outward Markets.

Once the affected population has been determined, security management bases the market analysis, as well as the entire outward marketing program, on that population.

It is useful to determine whether the groups identified as the target audience have a pattern of behavior regarding security. If they do, what is it and why? Understanding why previous programs failed or succeeded is important. What were the reactions of management and other staff to the program?

If the enterprise has no history of security programs, other types of projects and proposals make good substitutes. Has the organization shown itself to be receptive to change? Can this acceptance be demonstrated by listing specific things that have happened over the course of the last two to three years that showed that the organization was receptive and able to deal with some level of change? This change might have involved new technologies.

Security management should identify key players at this level if program information is available from the recent past. Those key players become influencers who either support or undermine any program in the organization. When they have been key players in technology upgrading, they can be extremely important to the success or failure of the security mission. Identifying the pattern of behavior and the key players is crucial.

Having identified the patterns, security management should consider the threats and benefits this program creates. Individuals react first to threat or a perception of threat. Therefore, security management must determine how these groups will perceive the security program in terms of threat. Then, from the perspective of the target audience, the positive aspects of the security program should be identified.

Finally, security management should use any theme or historical precedent or pattern of past behavior to communicate with these groups. What have they been receptive to, what caused them to take action or make commitments, and what is the most effective way to communicate with them?

Developing Product Packages for Outward Markets.

Product packaging for upward and outward markets is the same.

Developing Outward Marketing Communications.

Outward marketing augments the traditional task of training. Traditional training involves educating staff on security procedures and their importance. Although training is a necessary part of any security implementation, it is usually merely a presentation of information.

Outward marketing, on the other hand, is a two-way communication process of researching, analyzing, convincing, influencing, and presenting information. Using the term "outward marketing" instead of "training" is important, because "outward marketing" stresses that communications is one of the most important skills for a security management professional.

Creating Messages for the Outward Audience.

As in upward marketing, in outward marketing, marketing messages must be kept straightforward, simple, and generally nontechnical. Business unit managers do not want security to interfere with their ability to do business; when speaking to these managers, marketing messages should address this concern. The following are examples of marketing messages for the outward audience:

  • Compliance with security policy is a condition of employment.

  • The central security department exists to help you understand and comply with policy.

  • Through technology, your competition can access your data and hackers can access your customers' data. Security protects them.

  • The last of these three messages is directed specifically toward managers.

Using Media in Outward Marketing Communications.

In outward marketing, an 8- to 10-page white paper that outlines the background material and justification for the security plan may be appropriate. But because separate audiences have different needs, the audiences should be addressed separately through white papers composed specifically for them.

Here again, presentations are important. These presentations should include war stories. And, again, memos should be avoided.

Security managers can serve the more detailed needs of nonexecutives by creating an extended briefing document. This document, which is generally 10 to 15 pages long, is used in employee and management training. It becomes a standard part of the new employee training program and a part of the message delivery process for every security project. The briefing document must be kept up-to-date, be written in plain English, and have everything in it that a first-line manager needs to know about security. It needs to contain basic policy statements, including how to assign resources to various security classifications. It should have all the basic information that a line manager needs to make decisions regarding security:

  • How to handle a problem—when to escalate, how to escalate, who to escalate to, and what to expect as a result of that escalation

  • The basic components of the enterprise security policy—why security is important, how all the security issues are going to be handled, and who is responsible for what in every step along the way

The marketing communication plan for outward marketing also needs other materials. The importance of security must be continuously communicated to the target audience. Any or all of the following tools and techniques can be useful in this endeavor:

  • Posters that are suitable for hanging in cubicles

  • Desk cards

  • Telephone stick-ons that help people remember that they must pay attention to security

  • E-mail (perhaps humorous)

  • Internal mail that communicates a single coherent concept

Such regular communication can increase expenses, but the increases may be minimal. Security managers can use desktop publishing, desktop color printers, and quick-run color printing at local print shops to build inexpensive communication vehicles.

As in upward marketing, a marketing communication plan that includes a production schedule is key. In circumstances where certification is appropriate, it should be part of the plan and the schedule. Certification is the process by which first-line managers certify they have read a specific component of the marketing communication deliverables. Frequently, the briefing document includes a sign-off form. As the document is updated each year, all managers must review it and certify that they did so by signing the form. The appropriateness of this process is entirely a cultural issue.

Evaluating the Security Program.

The last piece of the outward marketing communication plan is a schedule for measuring the effectiveness of the marketing communication program. It is desirable to have a way of auditing and measuring compliance with the policies implemented. Therefore, the marketing program should express the expected compliance levels, including reasonable time periods in which to expect compliance and to achieve the plan's objectives. Month by month, the security manager records the expected compliance levels as a result of the marketing communication plan. And again, managers should use marketing tools to remind end users to comply with policy.

This chapter developed an enterprise security charter that strengthens and clarifies the security organizational structure. It also shows how to market the security plan both to senior management who approve the investment of resources and to the users. The next chapter examines ways to organize corporate resources into domains so that security managers can establish the exact security needs to address.

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