Five Minutes With: Embrace the Disruption, says Mike Marcellin

What are your biggest opportunities and challenges facing companies undergoing digital transformation in their marketing efforts?

With any transformation, the biggest challenge is embracing the disruption that comes with change. It may feel uncomfortable, but the opportunities that come from transformation—such as successfully leading and informing the business, creating and bolstering long-standing relationships with customers and staying ahead of the competitive curve—are well worth it.

Marketers have a unique role in transformation efforts; being in the know with customers and their changing environments falls on our shoulders now more than ever. We have the ability to be the change agent. But to do so, we have to challenge the status quo not only in the markets we serve, but also in how we do what we do.

What has changed in the relationship between brands and customers?

With the accelerating development and rapid adoption of digital technologies, we’re living in a truly digital economy. Customers are changing their buying habits and forming opinions on brands before they are actively “shopping”. Because customers are now hyper-educated, companies must be more targeted in their marketing efforts around products, value and vision. The key is to create memorable digital experiences and connect across a variety of online and offline channels.

Here at Juniper, we’re in the process of implementing an entirely new content marketing strategy. The level of visibility we have into our customers and prospects needs is better than ever. We are constantly rethinking and reevaluating the way we get the right content to the buyer at the right time, meeting them where they are in their journey. This a big focus for us this year, we’re working every day to figure out how to most effectively use some of the latest technology to better connect with our customers.

Is it hard to educate marketers about the business impact of marketing versus the creative side?

Marketers need to be business people first and marketers second. It can require a shift in mindset to think first and foremost about answering the customer’s business challenges and ensuring everything marketing does is helping to drive the business objectives of the company. It can also become easy for marketers to get caught up in the day-to- day and think simply about marketing for marketing’s sake, when the true value in marketing is to drive growth for the company.

At Juniper, we keep it simple by setting three accountabilities we measure ourselves against. First, we focus on accelerating time to revenue with both direct sellers and channel partners. Given that the world is now “always on”, it’s more important than ever for marketing to actively contribute to top-line initiatives. Because we’re exclusively B2B, much of our revenue acceleration is in partnership with our sellers. Next, we are amplifying our storytelling to align our messages to our primary markets: Data center/cloud, service provider network transformation, and security and enterprise network transformation. This alignment will not only increase air cover in important areas and create a more unified voice and presence in the marketplace, but also address common customer challenges. 

Finally, we’re working to create digital experiences for customers to drive more conversion throughout the relationship life cycle. This directly addresses the changing nature of buyers and how important those digital touch points are, even before they actively engage with us.

What are some unmet needs in the marketing technology landscape?

It’s exciting how far we’ve come in marketing technology over the past few years. So much so, that one of the big investments Juniper made this year is in a marketing cloud so we can leverage a common and fully-threaded view of the customer.

With that said, there are two gaps I see. The first gap is around ensuring employees have the skill-set to get the most out of the latest state-of- the-art marketing tools. The good news is that this is also an opportunity for organizations to invest in people, because there aren’t a lot of folks out there with those skills. The second gap is around technology. Businesses need to become anticipatory and more segmented so buyers will actually want to engage in marketing ads and assets. Today, we have ads that follow you around the web, but targeting can still be imprecise. With a bit more machine learning, we will see technology improve by leaps and bounds—a great real world example of this is how’s recommendations have improved over time.

What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in the next year?

Our customers engage on many social platforms, and there will always be new channels to learn. Rather than focus on any one channel, we are focused on our customers’ digital experience in its entirety and engaging with them across a variety of channels. Whether that’s the hot new thing, something that is lesser known or a continued investment in the “big three”—Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn—we try to understand what channels are providing the most value to customers. We’re heavily investing in growing the Juniper community and building brand affinity through a strategy focused more on engagement. As a result, mapping, creating and delivering the right content on the right channel is of the utmost importance to support our community.

–Mike Marcellin is CMO at Juniper Networks

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