CMO Q&A: Lauren Flaherty, Juniper Networks (Extended)

Juniper Networks CMO Lauren Flaherty speaks with Lindsay Stein about building brand awareness and relevance beyond a b-to-b audience

Juniper Networks CMO Lauren Flaherty talks to Lindsay Stein about building brand awareness and the company's security efforts.

You've been CMO at Juniper for over two years. How have you evolved the brand during that time? 
There are a couple of things that were really important for Juniper that were not part of what our marketing repertoire had been and that would be really having an eye on creating relevance with the key target audiences.

Step one was to identify the thought-leadership platform, which we called the New Network. In October 2009, we launched that messaging platform into the marketplace. It heralded our being able to speak much more about our core value proposition, which is that the company was founded on a desire to architect a different kind of a network, one that would really enable the kind of scale, performance, and capability that we were going to need with the advent of mobility and video.

What are you focused on at the moment?
The key thing for us right now is really to show how the New Network means value creation for business. We're really showcasing how the innovation that comes out of this company translates into business value for our customers, so in everything we do, we showcase customers.

If you look at our website today, there's a whole buffet of customers that we feature with videos and case studies speaking to how the Juniper value proposition and focus on innovation is helping them create more value for their customers and their business. Customers are at the center and the heart of everything that we do and for all folks in tech, it's not just about having brilliant technology. It has to be about having the technology brilliantly applied.

Juniper's products are complex, not to mention they are aimed at a b-to-b audience.  How do you make them interesting and relevant to consumers?
I always like to use automotive as a good frame of reference for us. You know all the product names, the brand names, and the car-model names, but at the end of the day, there's a certain expectation about the experience you want in a car. It's not terribly different than that.

We speak in the stories of our customers. By doing that, we talk about their challenges, their opportunities, and how our very complex products help them. It's a way to take the complexity of it all and make it engaging. We're dealing with the most connected, best-informed, decision-making set of audiences in history. Communicating and marketing today is very different than what it was like five or 10 years ago. We like to tell our story through the lens of our customers because it's a new kind of traditional customer reference work.

The media landscape has changed so much, so we were hunting for the closest thing you have that hits our target audience in a global way. We targeted top-ten airports because we know our audience is there and they travel through those hubs, so it's a very visible leadership platform for us as a company. In those big airport billboards, we showcase some of the marquee names we do business with, such as the New York Stock Exchange, Priceline, AOL, Tesla, and Mozilla. It's a really interesting mix of established, industrial companies, as well as next-generation companies that are really turned on to having the highest performance in their network capability.

Can you discuss Juniper's activities in the area of security?
As we all live on networks personally, we start to appreciate how important security is. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, the notion of security has to be pervasive because we all have our own personal devices connected to corporate networks.

We have a product called Junos Pulse. It's a mobile security software solution that you put on the device and it enables us to be connected safely to the corporate infrastructure. We launched that October of last year and it's had great traction with service providers and enterprise companies. If you have a big sales force and they are constantly connecting into the corporate infrastructure, in terms of databases, ledgers, and CRM, you want to make sure the connection between the endpoint and the corporate infrastructure is secure. That's what Junos Pulse enables you to do.

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