What Security Executives Should Know About Marketing

A Q&A with Wharton Professor Jagmohan Raju on selling security to corporate leaders


[Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of Q&As with professors from the Wharton/ASIS Program for Security Executives. These Q&As address topics that high-level security executives need to know about working with senior corporate management. Other articles in this series are linked at the bottom.]

Why do security executives need to know about marketing? Not only is it one of the core business disciplines, essential to understanding and participating in the broader enterprise, but it has direct application to rolling out new security initiatives within organizations. We spoke recently with Wharton Marketing Professor Jagmohan Raju, who teaches in the Wharton/ASIS Security Executive Program, about some key areas of marketing knowledge of value to security executives. Professor Raju is the Joseph J. Aresty Professor and director of the Wharton-Indian School of Business Program. He consults extensively with companies around the world including Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Medtronic, Warner Home Video, and Johnson and Johnson on designing pricing strategies and developing launch plans for new products.

Marketing seems pretty far removed from the concerns of security executives. Why is it important?

We usually think about launching new products and services externally, but a similar process is used to implement new initiatives for an internal market. Security executives are often involved in promoting new ideas or launching new programs within their organizations. They need to have their ideas accepted and change the behavior of employees and managers in the organization. This is essentially a marketing challenge. Anyone involved in a change process needs to understand marketing. Where should I start? Who is the target audience? What are the benefits? These are all marketing questions, and understanding how to take a product to market can help in taking a new idea to an internal audience.

Security executives need to understand the principles of communication strategy, how people respond to ideas in the marketplace. Executives often have to address a large audience within the organization, not just the CEO, and often do not have the ability enforce new policies. Instead, they have to market these ideas. They have to use insights into the audience rather than enforceability to promote new ideas and initiatives. How do employees use their computers? How do they live their lives outside the company? The security industry is asking for tremendous changes in behavior inside companies. Knowledge of marketing can be invaluable in this process.

In addition to launching change initiatives, what other marketing knowledge is important?

Security executives are recipients of marketing activities. There are a lot of new technologies being thrown at them. They are major targets of high-tech marketing. Understanding marketing and where the seller is coming from can make them more savvy about this process.

What do security executives need to know to effectively reach internal markets?

First, you need to know how to develop a marketing plan. This begins with a marketing analysis of "the 4 Cs": consumers, competitors, company, and collaborators. In promoting an internal idea, the consumers often are the employees of the organization and the competitors might be the ideas or projects competing for attention and resources. You also need to understand the organization itself and find collaborators who can help carry the idea out to the internal market. The next step is to use that analysis to develop positioning for the product or, in this case, the new idea or initiative. How can it be presented in the best way to reach the target audience and address competitors? Then this positioning needs to be translated into what we call "the marketing mix."

What is the marketing mix in the context of promoting new security initiatives?

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