Investing in cybersecurity will help you protect against breaches and business losses, but you might not have considered that it could also be a driver of new profits, too. Your customers are more frequently becoming concerned about being hacked.
Business-to-consumer (B2C) customers are worried about having data such as social security numbers and credit card details stolen, or even concerned that people are aware they're using your service at all.
For business-to-business (B2B) customers, the potential stakes are even higher: They may be concerned about the loss of proprietary data, such as confidential engineering plans, building and security designs, or even secret food recipes, all of which could be worth millions of dollars to a competitor or held ransom by cyberattackers. For either type of customer, a hack could lead to severe negative repercussions personally or professionally.
Additionally, more and more enterprises and government agencies insist that their vendors – large and small – maintain certain levels of cybersecurity. They might require that you have data encryption, regular internal and external assessments, an incident response plan, regular awareness training and other key security features in place before you can even bid on a contract. If you can't comply, your business will lose the chance to win the project.
Ignoring cybersecurity isn't just a security risk for your own business – it's also potentially costing you business. That’s why it's time to consider using cybersecurity as a competitive marketing advantage. Here's how to do it.
1. Get cybersecure.
Before you can make a point of spotlighting your cybersecurity practices, you need to make sure that you're actually walking the walk in the first place. [Interested in internet security software? Check out our reviews and best picks.]
Today's cybersecurity goes far beyond antivirus and firewalls and includes plans, policies and procedures alongside ongoing awareness training, testing, and technology. One way to make sure you're ahead of the curve is to work with your IT provider, such as an MSP or cybersecurity consultant, who can provide a comprehensive, ongoing approach to improving your company's cybersecurity. They should be able to offer support by reviewing your current processes and technologies to evaluate for vulnerabilities, helping you establish in-house policies, training your staff on how to be cyberaware, and putting a mitigation and action plan in place in the event of an attack. Once your IT partner or vendor can give you a positive scorecard on your cybersecurity assessment, you'll have bragging rights to share with potential customers and be in a position to move quickly on winning new business that requires certain security measures be in place.
2. Promote your cybersecurity initiatives.
New customers are likely to find you and make decisions about working with you largely via exploring your website. After you've implemented strong cybersecurity practices – an ongoing program of cybersecurity – make sure to build out a new page of your website that spotlights them. Key features that your customers will care about include whether their data is encrypted, how online transactions are managed, your security testing practices, and how third parties may access the data. For an example of a strong company security page, take a look at Dropbox, the online file storage company: They clearly explain how they protect your data and your privacy, and provide you with additional tips on what you can do at the user level to keep your account secure.
3. Email your current customers and prospects.
Even if you already have active customers, it's always worth letting them know when you've made improvements to your business practices and take current topics like cybersecurity seriously. Consider sending out an email announcement that provides a high-level view of the steps you've taken at your business to improve security protocols. Your announcement will likely impress existing customers and may be just the nudge that new prospects need to step on board.
4. Bid on relevant industry and government Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and contracts.
Government clients won't come to you; you need to pursue them. And by taking steps to put strong cybersecurity practices in place, you weed out most of your competition. Look for relevant contract and RFP opportunities in your industry and provide relevant information on your cybersecurity standards as requested. If the agency is interested in working with you, they may complete a cybersecurity assessment to ensure that your business meets its standards. To further sway prospects, proactively add a section touting your cybersecurity practices to your outgoing proposals.
Building strong cybersecurity into your company is good for business – both your own, and those you work with. With cybersecurity becoming mainstream, there is no better time to put a cybersecurity plan into action, and spread the word to make the most of your new competitive advantage.