Juniper's Marketing EpiphanyBy Carolyn April | Posted 2009-11-12 Email Print
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Marketing is one of those pillars of business that often gets neglected by solution providers. But how about by vendors? Networking player Juniper knows it hasn't done the best job marketing itself in the past and is looking to turn it around.
I had a chance to sit down with channel veteran Frank Vitagliano in New York a couple of weeks back. Vitagliano, as many of you know, was a mainstay among IBM channel executives for more than 20 years, and for the last four years has been heading up Juniper’s channel program—more like crafting it, actually.
Under Vitagliano’s stewardship, Juniper’s channel has grown and its partners have enjoyed nipping at Cisco’s heels as a solid alternative in the core networking infrastructure space. The company’s aspirations have accelerated these days, as it seeks to grab more share of the market. Case in point: the recent fanfare at the New York Stock Exchange, where Juniper executives staged a well-executed and ambitious rollout of new technologies, products and strategic direction across the breadth of its current portfolio and beyond.
Vitagliano described that event as a coming-out party of sorts for Juniper. Marketing and promotion have not been the company’s strong suit, a weak point that directly impacts partners in the field.
"We didn’t have a great story," he told me at lunch after the event. "We need to be able to tell partners what our vision means. My mission is to continue to articulate, in simple ways, 'Why Juniper? What’s the value prop?’"
This also means providing partners with more marketing air cover, he said. Ideally, end customers will have heard of Juniper before a partner steps in the door to discuss business—and that’s a responsibility that both Juniper and partners shoulder.
Marketing is one of those pillars of business that often gets neglected by solution providers. In Juniper’s case, we have a vendor that is acknowledging not doing the best job marketing itself, which is, frankly, refreshing. We all know that selling the market share leader is often a no-brainer precisely because of customer familiarity. But how many solution providers would rather resell a No. 2 or No. 3 brand to recoup what are often better margins and greater incentive rewards?
After decades at IBM—a corporate household name if there ever was one in the tech industry—Vitagliano sees that marketing cannot be taken for granted if you’re trying to stand out against the market leader. As a channel partner, what’s your role? How often do you let your vendors know what you hear—and what you DON’T hear—about their brand out in the trenches?