W2 Communications’ location just outside of Washington, D.C. affords us the opportunity to network with executives across a variety of industries, as well as from other geographies. We recently had the opportunity to do just that as my colleague Tom Resau and I participated in a panel at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. convened by the London Office for Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (LORCA). Our panel focused on communications strategies for emerging cybersecurity companies in the United Kingdom that are interested in expanding into the United States. We talked about everything from “Is social media important?” to “How do we navigate RSA?”
LORCA’s mission is to be “the place for innovators, corporates, investors, academics, and engineers to come together and grow the most promising cybersecurity solutions of our time.” The office identifies a select cohort of cutting-edge companies focused on expanding to meet the industry’s needs – and these founders, CEOs, researchers and others were our panel’s audience.
It was a privilege to join the discussion and share many firsthand examples from our firm’s experience building the brands and U.S. visibility of numerous U.K. security vendors, such as Digital Shadows and Glasswall. Trade experts from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s SelectUSA added additional fantastic insight, explaining web, conference and data resources their agency offers to help companies find ideal U.S. locations for sales and investment.
The panel was lively and full of questions framing a very candid and thought-provoking discussion. Having worked with so many U.K. companies set on breaking into the U.S., it was fun to share those experiences and hear the LORCA cohort share their unique business goals, centered on their respective technologies and U.S. industries like financial services, aerospace, healthcare and energy.
Based on the panel discussion, we wanted to share some key pieces of advice for security companies eyeing the U.S. market:
Plan communications for new markets in advance
Today companies can begin shifting digital, social and content strategies to court overseas markets well before they establish local offices and teams. Making adjustments to web/content platforms to add U.S. or other specifically-focused content, and configuring sites to show that content to visitors from U.S. IP addresses, is a valuable, early step. Social media is paramount; timing posts during U.S. business hours and aligning content calendar themes to account for U.S. seasonal themes also pays off.
It’s essential to study the specific U.S. investor, partner, customer and other key audiences you are trying to reach and spend time working through your messaging and mapping out your priority audiences.
Nuance your messages and markets to build your profile and voice
The U.S. cybersecurity market is buzzy and crowded, making many entrants from overseas feel like they are at a steep disadvantage if their company’s name has not been in mainstream media. However this becomes less of an obstacle if U.K. firms leverage their existing market expertise and credibility to nuance how it benefits target audiences in the U.S.
For example, our panel discussion revealed that many of LORCA’s cyber cohort have years of experience dealing with tighter U.K. and EU privacy norms in their region – capabilities that U.S. firms are going to have to catch-up on, quickly. We learned that some of the U.K. firms in attendance have deep experience working with Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), Ministry of Defence (MoD) and many of Europe’s leaders in telecommunications and energy exploration. These relationships and proof points are very relevant to how arriving companies frame their hard-earned skills and experience to gain U.S. employees, go-to-market allies and sales leads.
Take advantage of governments’ trade missions and agencies
Pursuing new geographical markets is all about opportunity costs – what do you spend your time doing in one area versus another? On top of this, many U.S. venues and activities, like the mammoth RSA Conference, are particularly large and expensive, between travel, exhibit space and hotel costs. To offset these costs, companies engaging the U.S. security market should leverage their host nations’ trade missions and agencies as much as possible. LORCA itself is a powerful initiative. In recent years, the U.S., Germany, Israel and other countries have purchased “big tent” exhibit space at RSA Conference for many of their countries’ key vendors to use for exhibition and networking. This offers powerful advantages, freeing companies to focus more time and energy on networking, content and lead-gen during U.S. trips.
Bottom line: Know who you want to reach and smartly, aggressively frame your strengths for the the U.S. market – but be careful not to overlook the customers, experience and export allies from your home country.