“We were very impressed with Code Red’s proactivity on behalf of Watchful Software” – Justine Cross, EMEA Channels
Prior to being acquired by Symantec, Watchful Software was a specialist in data classification that was launched in the US in 2012. Its solutions enabled businesses to manage and secure mission critical data, protecting them from both insider threats and external attackers.
Its flagship RightsWATCH solution was designed to automatically implement security policies for data classification and labelling. The solution delivered an intuitive experience for users that made it easy to create and deploy security policies in real time. Assets could be automatically detected and classified according to sensitivity, preventing unauthorised users from accessing, editing or moving files as required.
In 2015, business development and channel specialist Justine Cross of EMEA Channels was appointed to manage the company’s go-to-market strategy for the UK and Europe. The first priority was to assess the existing strategy and determine the best priorities moving forward.
Watchful had previously looked to enter the German market, including translating product material into German. However, Justine quickly ascertained that the country’s strict data privacy laws would prove to be an issue as they would prevent RightsWATCH from investigating private emails.
Instead, the new strategy looked at other key countries including the UK, Italy and Poland. A major difference to the existing US strategy was the competition. Watchful’s only real competitors in its home market were Microsoft and a smaller company called Titus. In Europe the firm faced competition from Boldon James, a UK-based company.
Justine comments: “Watchful very much had the right technology to be successful in the UK, but we had to be very smart to compete on a local level with an established presence like Boldon James in the market.”
Establishing the channel
Watchful’s UK and European operations had inherited a channel program designed for the US market with a single tier referral model that didn’t fit well with the new markets. It also had a somewhat mixed sales approach including elements of direct selling with single-tier and two-tier channel strategies.
Justine comments: “For me the key to success is to create a pure, well-defined plan and stick with it. Whether it’s single, two-tier, or whatever else fits, it has to be clear-cut.”
After assessing the current strategy, the approach was consolidated into a two-tier channel model. The scope afforded by data classification meant that a larger number of resellers would be valuable in reaching all available markets in the long term.
Within 12 months, Watchful had recruited 20 resellers across the UK and other key European markets including Poland, Denmark and Italy. The ideal partners were boutique firms where Watchful’s solutions would be an important part of the portfolio, rather than just an item on a long list. An important part of the launch plan was coordinating training and ensuring strong motivation among partners.
Justine adds: “It’s incredibly important to train the people going out there everyday and talking to clients. I believe in a really open approach – it doesn’t make sense to hold anything back from the team. Thanks to the high level of coordination between the channel marketing and other elements like email and social media, we had a fantastic win rate.”
Launching PR in the UK
Alongside the channel, establishing a media presence was a major priority for the UK launch.
“Data classification is a booming market, but most of the people out there buying solutions in the UK didn’t know we existed”, Justine explained. “We had no media presence and weren’t at the right events. To address that, it was very important to choose the right PR partner for the market.”
Watchful looked at several PR companies before choosing cyber security specialist Code Red UK. A major factor in the decision was the agency’s payment-by-results model, which ensured that Code Red UK’s pay was directly tied to achieving powerful results for Watchful.
“We were very impressed with the team’s proactivity. They constantly sought out new media opportunities and we were able to get involved in some major stories like the Panama Papers leak, which was a perfect fit for Watchful’s key messages on safeguarding data.
“As a result, we were able to rapidly grow our brand in the UK market and beyond, and we got into far more RFIs thanks to the increased awareness. Code Red UK also helped manage our social media presence and there was also some very strong synergy with our channel and marketing activity.”
Code Red UK secured 44 pieces of press coverage within the first 12 months of the engagement alone, including 14 journalist interviews and 10 thought leadership pieces. The total readership in the first year reached just under three million. Coverage included key IT, security and channel publications including IT Pro, Infosecurity, CRN and Channelnomics.
Watchful went from having no share of voice in the media at the start of the engagement, to an average share of 67 per cent, overtaking its major competitors Boldon James and Titus. Increased social media activity also saw Twitter followers on the official Watchful account increase by 146 percent in the same period.
As a result of the successful go-to-market approach in the UK, Watchful Software was able to significantly increase its global profile. The firm was acquired by Symantec in May 2017, with its leading RightsWATCH software being rebranded into Information Centric Tagging (ICT) inside Symantec’s Information Centric Security product suite.