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Cyber marketers everywhere are gearing up for the industry’s biggest event of the year, RSA 2023, which kicked off yesterday in San Francisco! 

For the last few months, marketing teams have been busy as ever, planning cocktail hours, creating new booth designs, ordering tradeshow swag, building new messaging, supporting product launches, and more. With nearly 50,000 cyber professionals in attendance, there’s immense pressure on marketers to drive lots of booth and event traffic, find legitimate leads, and get positive media and analyst attention.

Despite the overall decrease in venture capital funding in cyber, RSA is still a major draw for many in the security industry. However, it can also be a major source of pressure — pushing marketers to come up with novel yet impactful ways to capture attention and attract their target audience. 

So, how are cyber marketers faring when it comes to allocating their marketing spend for this year? To gather some insights, Merritt Group partnered with Code Red to survey over 100 US and UK-based cyber marketers to determine their spending habits and priorities. Read on for some of the top level findings from our research.

How are cyber marketers approaching marketing budgets?

All it takes is one look at the ever-popular #RSAC parties list, and you can see for yourself that there’s certainly no shortage of networking events, happy hours, comedy acts, concerts, and more! No doubt the RSA show floor will be busy as ever with free giveaways, book signings, coffee and beer tastings — basically anything to catch the attention of show-goers.

Yet, our survey revealed a number of interesting insights on how cyber marketers are treating budget planning. Nearly three-quarters (67%) of marketers reported their marketing spending will increase this year, despite current economic conditions. Likewise, 25% said their marketing budgets will increase and they will have more scope to explore new marketing approaches. 

But how are marketers spending their money?

Our survey revealed a fairly even split across the board, with many marketers opting to stick to tried-and-true marketing avenues. When comparing 2022 spend against 2023 plans, marketers reported a slight decrease in tradeshow and booth sponsorships, dropping from 14% of spending in 2022 to 12% in 2023. Paid social and PR/media both experienced slight increases, jumping from 13% in 2022 to 14% in 2023. Other categories like organic social, lead generation and sales enablement, and industry awards all remained the same.

Given these data points, it will be interesting to see how RSA shapes up next week and what marketers on the ground are experiencing first-hand. I’m curious to know: 

  • Why is there always so much pressure around a show like RSA every year, to drive leads and PR buzz and excitement? Are other cyber events yielding greater ROI?
  • Will vendors downsize or upgrade their overall show presence?
  • Will they be spending money on paid media opportunities (we’ve seen more of those this year vs. any year in the past)? 
  • Are they investing in more analyst relations efforts with Gartner, Forrester, TAG Cyber, and others? 
  • Most importantly, will cyber marketers uncover the leads they’re looking for? 

Last November, I debated some of these hot topics with an excellent panel of CMOs at CyberMarketingCon, and we all agreed that 2023 would be the year to do “more with less.” I’ll be curious to see how that theory shakes out at RSA this week. 

If you’re a cyber marketer and you’re looking to cut through the cyber noise, I’d love to chat with you more. You can DM me on LinkedIn and we can grab coffee or I’ll stop by your booth. Safe travels and wishing the best of luck to all my cyber marketing friends!

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