Juniper's Marketing Maestros Putting Millions Behind Blitz

Juniper is pouring millions into an all-out marketing blitz designed to cement the company as a channel and technology marketing powerhouse.

The specific moves include everything from co-marketing plans tailored to individual partner needs to a greater overall allocation of market development funds (MDF), all with an eye toward turning Juniper partners into better marketers of Juniper solutions, and overcoming Juniper's long-held reputation as a marketing also-ran.

"Last year, I'm declaring intentions and strategy. I didn't have, frankly, a lot of proof," said Lauren Flaherty, Juniper's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, to CRN. "That year, I got great feedback from the partners in terms of where we were focused, and a lot of encouragement. This year, I have the opportunity to come and show them it's working. We have traction. We have data. I have numbers. Every single region is up huge."

As Flaherty detailed at this year's Juniper Americas Partner Conference in Phoenix, Juniper's MDF spend increased 20 percent this year over last year, and 40 percent of all MDF spending is now allocated to marketing. According to Flaherty, Juniper's brand awareness -- calculated using a range of different metrics -- has increased nearly 25 percent in the Americas and nearly double that in other geographies, thanks to a mix of targeted campaigns, better advertising exposure in places like airports and metropolitan areas, and stronger media impressions.

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Part of Juniper's overall marketing spend has also been in hiring. There are new marketing leaders in each of Juniper's regions within the last eight months, and at the strategic level, the vendor has made a number of marquee hires.

Those include former Microsoft corporate vice president Brad Brooks, now Juniper's vice president, worldwide enterprise marketing and solutions; BT and Nortel veteran Peter Finter, now vice president of Americas marketing, and, perhaps best known to networking channel partners; Luanne Tierney, who spearheaded partner marketing initiatives for more than 13,000 partners in her previous role as vice president of worldwide partner marketing at Cisco.

A need for expertise was what motivated the hiring spree, which will continue, Flaherty said.

"That engine was very immature last year -- it was young," Flaherty said. "Frankly, I needed people like Luanne, and folks who know how to do this. I feel privileged that people have come here. Juniper is a very energizing company to work for."

During a keynote presentation, Tierney, whose title at Juniper is vice president, global partner marketing, told Juniper solution providers that Juniper wants to become their "trusted marketing advisor."

What that means, said Tierney in a later interview with CRN, is tailoring a marketing plan to each individual partner, and teaching them how to leverage new trends and techniques to put wood behind their Juniper arrows.

"We're not giving them cookie-cutter stuff," she said. "What's great about Juniper is our ability to target our partners and develop these very tailored plans."

Finter said Juniper will help partners organize their marketing around technology areas like data center, campus branch, security and software, and look to better integrate a technology conversation into what partners have for customer-facing communications.

The goal, he explained, isn't so much to sell customers on raw technology as it is lead them to Juniper solutions by crafting marketing that connects the dots for them.

"Look at [Juniper's recently debuted data center architecture] QFabric. QFabric is creating opportunities. People say, 'Hang on, what's going on over there, pay attention,'" Finter said. "We want to make it easy for customers to consider what constitutes a true network fabric versus what else is in the market. Partners can educate their customers and we can lay it out in such a way that helps customers understand what choices they have to make and what various solutions look like."

"It's not something you do in ad copy. It's not something you read on the back of a cereal box," said Flaherty. "It's the economics experience of the new network and explaining that. We're into fewer, bigger, more strategic plays, with relentless execution."

Next: Juniper Continues To Hire, Get Social

Finter, Tierney and Juniper's partner marketing team will focus on marketing bundles, co-marketing campaigns and a range of resources, from more MDF and marketing deliverables like campaign templates, to social media. Juniper partners will start to see those marketing opportunities on a more frequent basis through their partner account managers, Finter said.

"Everybody's on the learning curve," Finter said. "The partner that helps get their team best enabled is going to get quickest to the issues these customers are facing."

Juniper will introduce new campaigns during the second quarter, and then more resources, including bills of materials and marketing frameworks, in the third and fourth quarters. Juniper's field and global marketing teams are also in hiring mode, Finter said, and will continue to add headcount this year.

Social networking will play a big role in the marketing story as well. Tierney, who while at Cisco spent a lot of time exposing partners to how they could benefit from social media platforms instead of merely use tools like Twitter and Facebook and customer-facing video as additional forms of advertising, cited social media engagement as one of the biggest priorities for Juniper partners.

"At Juniper, we haven't necessarily done that yet. That's what we're building out: a short-term and a long-term strategy," Tierney said. "We've met with many partners who are experimenting with social media but looking at us to help them. I think this is true throughout the industry. Social media is a great amplifier and we can take our expertise to help them."

"It's an integrated marketing and communications approach," Finter added. "You need to integrate it into what you do and make it a part of what you do. It's like the early days of the Web when people thought it was exciting just to have a Website. Until it became part of the organism, it really wasn't delivering value. I think social media is at that early stage."

The blitz is working for Juniper. Partners told CRN during the conference that Juniper's marketing message was impressive, and that the new levels of engagement reflect the advice Juniper VARs gave the vendor a year ago.

"We did chip away at the mindshare challenges," Flaherty said of the past 12 months. "Now we're in a pivot, and we can shift the mindshare emphasis to much more demand generation, lead generation and market share discussion. The headline message is it's now time to dig in and talk demand generation, and look at how to build opportunities for partners."