Paul Holmes 14 May 2005 // 11:00PM GMT
From the beginning, Fortify Software was not your average start-up. However, convincing the crowded security market of this was a tough challenge. Fortify had set its sights on finding a “vaccine” to eradicate the growing epidemic of viruses and worms that were attacking computer applications.
Recognizing that building bigger and better firewalls and patches was no longer enough, Fortify endeavored to coin an entirely new approach, one that wasn’t already categorized or defined. With no large competitors to point to, Fortify, as a small, unknown start-up, seized the opportunity to introduce a new security philosophy to an inhospitable market already saturated with security solutions.
In the spring of 2004, Fortify’s product and message were ready to be unleashed. However, OutCast faced many challenges when preparing for the launch. At the time, Fortify was made up of only seven employees including engineers and founders. Fortify had only two customers to reference – one of which is a small, unknown logistics company and the other, a high profile e-commerce company with severe limitations on press referenceability. As with all start-ups, we were forced to work within a small budget.
This was not to be your average company launch; OutCast had to reach beyond introducing just another security company and product to the market. Instead, the launch would bring focus to Fortify’s “Inside-Out” approach and demonstrate that Fortify was not created in a vacuum, but rather with the impassioned involvement and consensus of respected industry leaders.
The message was clear – Fortify was not just pushing the next best product, but rather a new philosophy with which security problems could be effectively eliminated. Admittedly, this was an aggressive strategy given the limited resources and budget at hand, but OutCast knew in order for this to be successful and have the necessary longevity, this was the only way to go.
Made the two available customer references really count. This meant engaging the customers as early as possible to negotiate their meaningful participation in the Fortify launch, as well as leveraging PayPal’s high profile brand and overcoming the hurdle of the other customer reference’s relative anonymity.
Leveraged the stars of the security “universe,” such as Bill Joy, to bring credibility to Fortify by demonstrating the company and its philosophy had earned a stamp of approval from respected leaders
Aligned Fortify messages with hot industry topics to demonstrate the need for Fortify’s technology, including the insecurity of e-voting systems and outsourcing ,secured the backing and referenceability of leading software and security industry analysts, such as Gartner and IDC, prior to the press tour, leveraged deep relationships with key business reporters, including The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, to secure feature print coverage (versus small mentions) and hit the road on a press tour to pre-brief security reporters at technology trade publications in person under embargo.
Some of the main strategies in the development of the campaign included; research on customers and industry references, conducted extensive industry research on which press and industry analysts covered and commented on security concerns, identified the most relevant business reporters, taking into consideration the reporters’ interest and knowledge in security, writing style, and the frequency of their publications, identified the top general technology trades and specific security publications, including the most influential or relevant beat reporters to approach at each and developed a press pitch that would democratize the security issues consumers face and appeal to a larger audience.
Crucial tactics used within the campaign were; secured an exclusive feature story with The Wall Street Journal and provided access to Fortify founders, Kleiner Perkins Partner and investor Ted Schlein and industry luminary Bill Joy, pre-briefed technology trade reporters and teed up stories to appear on the day the press release hit the wires, arranged for business press to speak with PayPal after overcoming objections from their PR department, arranged for trade press to speak with Fortify customer New Vine Logistics and encouraged and arranged for press to speak with other well-known industry gurus such as Gary McGraw from Cigital, an important partner.
Some of the results used to grade the overall effectiveness of the campaign include; garnered 21 unique feature articles on Fortify and a total of 44 articles despite the company’s small size and newcomer status, received feature coverage in major national publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and San Jose Mercury News, received comprehensive coverage in technology trade publications such as CNET, Computerworld, eWeek, SC Magazine and others, introduced Fortify as a serious vendor of note in the software security space right out of the gate.