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Juniper CMO aims to deepen insight, customer experiences

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Last month, Brad Brooks was named senior VP-CMO at Juniper Networks, succeeding Lauren Flaherty, who left the company in July to become exec VP-CMO at CA Technologies. Brooks was previously VP-marketing and business strategy for the software solutions division of Juniper. Prior to joining Juniper in 2011 he served as corporate VP-Windows consumer business at Microsoft Corp. In the following interview, Brooks discusses his marketing vision for Juniper and how mobile and social are changing the marketing landscape. BtoB What are your goals as the new CMO at Juniper? Brad Brooks: It's pretty simple; it's all got to be about moving the business forward and having an impact on the business. First is helping the company build better products—through marketing having unique insight and intelligence from the customer point of view and bringing it back to the deepest areas of the company. Another goal is building remarkable customer experiences when customers engage with our brand, whether that is through our website, customer service or when our company shows up on (users') browsers. And, finally, increasing market share in the markets that are most relevant to our business. BtoB How are you gaining customer insight to achieve the first goal? Brooks: We are investing in primary and secondary research. Also, the great thing about advancements in the Internet and social networking is the ability to quickly quantify and validate your messages. This has improved tremendously over the last few years. Nowadays you can do quantitative research much more quickly and inexpensively. We are making investments to really build out our data capability and our market-segmentation strategy. BtoB What is your market-segmentation strategy? Brooks: A lot of times, companies can become confused and address market segments that are coming off third-party analyst reports. Market segmentation is not about selling routers to a specific market segment, but it's about people and their attitudes and behaviors around technology and what types of problems they are trying to solve. The second mistake marketers can make is looking at market segmentation based on a title or a role. While a role is an important demographic, it's important to get underneath it and examine psychographic information—people's attitudes and how they make decisions. Products don't make decisions on how they get sold; people do. BtoB: What are the market segments you serve and how are they changing? Brooks: We really fell into a much more traditional approach around segmentation based on product categories. If you look at it from the standpoint of decision-makers, it is infrastructure buyers, application buyers and software buyers within the enterprise and service provider segments. The trick is not to be too role-specific in terms of defining buyers in an industry; an infrastructure buyer in healthcare versus an infrastructure buyer in financial services may have very different needs for technology and how it influences their business. We are in the process of building out our market segmentation strategy. BtoB: You bring a strong background of b-to-c and b-to-b to your role. What can b-to-b marketers learn from b-to-c marketers? Brooks: First and foremost, you are selling to people. You are marketing to people; you are not marketing to a market segment or a product segment. A lot of times, b-to-b marketers fall into the trap of selling products based on products they sell, not individual people. Individuals are making product decisions. All of it comes down to a personal set of conversations that needs to happen with the folks influencing buying decisions. Some of the most effective marketing you can do on the consumer level, which is the same in b-to-b, is to deliver the message in an asymmetrical way—deliver the message or value proposition in a channel or way they are not expecting it. It can have a novel impact. BtoB: How is mobile impacting the b-to-b marketing landscape, and how are you using mobile in your marketing efforts? Brooks: It goes back to the theme of delivering the message in a personal way to an individual instead of an institution. If you look at a lot of websites, it is surprising how few companies have embraced a mobile strategy. For companies and customers, many websites are still optimized for the PC. You have to change the user interface when it's a mobile device and understand that the behavior of users coming in from a mobile device is different from the behavior of users on a PC—it's less about reading and more about video; more about transacting and finding out what customer service issue needs to be solved, very quickly. It is a very nascent area for a lot of b-to-b marketers versus b-to-c marketers. We just came out with a mobile-optimized site (in July). It is in beta with our customers. It is a very different user experience, with a different user interface. It gets the customer to the information they are looking for, but in a different way. We will get it to our partners soon. It is a priority area of investment. BtoB: Do you plan to launch any new ad campaigns this year? Brooks: We are coming out with a new set of marketing messages starting this fall, particularly relevant to the enterprise space. Juniper is a thought leader in networking; and, as we move into software and more aspects of networking in the enterprise space, we're putting a focus on how we talk to enterprise decision-makers. The cloud will be a big emphasis for us and how we are relevant to the enterprise space. BtoB: Which primary media platforms will you be using? Brooks: We use some print. We use a lot of social media, search, Web-based, and we still do some physical event activity. The relevance of physical events is on the wane. We are not into TV. It is a very expensive medium; the ROI is just not there. We will use most of the other channels.
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