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108 | Nailing marketing effectiveness in 2024

49 min listen

Identify the opportunities to improve your marketing effectiveness.

This episode sees James Houselander, Director EMEA Marketing for HPE Aruba Networking, on the mic for a journey into marketing effectiveness. 

The buzzword of this episode is opportunity. Whether you're working in a large or small organisation, how can you harness the opportunities presented and make an impact?

With 95% of HPE Aruba Networking's business going through the channel, there are also some brilliant insights into how James utilises their partner ecosystem in his broader marketing strategy.

In this episode, we dig down into the details of:

  • Being agile in a small vs large organisation
  • Justifying risk to create new opportunities
  • Changing the perception of marketing across the business - especially with Sales.

Tune in now, wherever you get your podcasts:


View the full transcript here

Jon: Welcome to another episode of the Tech Marketing Podcast. I'm joined today by James Hauslander, EMEA Marketing at HP Aruba Networking. As always on the couch, I've got Harry, my wonderful co host. Hello. And Jonathan who is absolutely no stranger to the Tech Marketing Podcast. Hello listeners. Our Director of Innovation.

So let's get straight into it because we've got a fantastic episode for you today. It's a pleasure to have you with us, James. for the invite. You've had a lot of Roles over the year, like, tell us the journey you've been on to, to get to where you are today.

James: I started off at IBM, so obviously everyone knows IBM a large tech company had the opportunity to do an internship back when I was at university, which was an invaluable experience and I'd encourage. All up and coming people that are willing to wanting to do marketing to really take that opportunity.

So spend a few years there. And I think after leaving IBM, I think it was at that point, you really recognize when you work for a large tech vendor like that, the skills, the expertise, the knowledge that exists within there and the opportunities that you have to really broaden your skills. So after that, I moved on to EMC and then went through into some smaller organizations to spend four years at Riverbed.

Running their UKI marketing. And then had the opportunity to branch out away from a country role in to take on an EMEA leadership role at a fairly small company in EMEA called Silver Peak which eventually after a couple of years got acquired by HP, HPE. And that's how I ended up at HP Aruba Networking today.

So being in the company for three years, had the opportunity to lead the channel marketing specialism within HP Aruba Networking. And now expanded that responsibility to take on both field and channel. Across the EMEA region. So yeah, so done that sort of full circle really from starting in a large organization, working through into a smaller organization and now working within a business unit within a larger organization of it, which is HPE.

I always have,

Jon: I mean, you're not the first ex IBMer we've had on the podcast. I actually applied to be an intern at IBM as well. Okay. True story. They didn't let me in cause I was too relaxed. But the, like I always find them a fascinating business that can give you a great foundation. So what, as you've gone through that journey with IBM Riverbed and landing at HP, like what would you say?

You, you mentioned a piece of advice, like get an internship and learn like what other pieces have you picked up

James: along the way? So I think take IBM as a good example. They are and have been for years a pioneer in from a technology perspective. And I think for me when working in that organization, then I don't think it's till you leave those types of organizations, you appreciate that exposure you have to not only what's happening within the industry, but also what's happening.

Within marketing's domain and having sort of had that experience of working for smaller organizations and now a business unit within a larger organization, I suppose it's about embracing and taking those opportunities. And I think the cliche term of being innovative, right. And bringing ideas to your role.

I think I would always encourage whether you're an early stage career or a more experienced person, it's about bringing those ideas, whether that's fresh, new ideas that you've seen work outside of. thE organization or outside of the industry but also use an experience to look at what works and what doesn't work.

And I think cliche term again, agile marketing, right? We've got to be agile in what we do, stay close to the market in terms of some of the trends that are happening within the tech sector, but also some of those trends that are happening within marketing, right? Marketing's changed. Drastically over the years, it's moved from an art to a science and I'd say the art piece of it's coming back in now and obviously the proliferation of Martech, etc.

It's about embracing and learning and looking for new ways of doing things.

Jon: Let's dive into that. You mentioned the Agile approach there. And you see, you're currently manage, you know, EMEA teams, field and digital, like a broad range of different marketing activities. How do you balance all of that? How do you remain agile across those different teams?

James: So we've gone through some change ourselves over the last two to three years. We've actually moved. Some of our functions within a mere marketing and put them into a global function to get optimization, not just for a cost perspective, but more efficiency in terms of how we're leveraging the tools and the materials we have to go to market, but also making sure we've got a consistent message we're taking to market.

In terms of balancing, it's really. My responsibility in the field and the channel role is really to align closely to sales. So that is really a key focus for us. And then it's really about making sure that we're taking into consideration all the different market dynamics that we have across EMEA, right?

Each country. Each region is mature in terms of market or in terms of difference in terms of market, but also our maturity as a company within those markets. So therefore we have to adjust the way we do marketing across the broader EMEA region. In addition, when it comes to the marketing mix as well, we obviously have to collaborate with our global counterparts around driving some of the digital and the campaign activity into our region.

And then we lead to look for opportunities in terms of how we can support the sales organization to drive pipeline and drive. Brand awareness into our markets. So again, we have to look at opportunities around how do we do things and how do we do things in a different way to, to support those initiatives.


Jon: I've got one as well. Go

sedger: for it Jonathan. Yeah. So I, one of the things that came up in a prior podcast with Beth Redpath, who was at VMware was kind of talking about some of the challenges about being agile in a large organization. Obviously you've seen. Some of the largest organizations like IBM, and then you've been in smaller organizations.

Like, is that true? Is it much easier to be agile in a small, smaller organization? And how do you try to be more agile in a larger organization? How have you

James: found that? Yeah, so I think you have, I suppose in smaller organizations, you have a little bit more autonomy to, to try new things. Whereas in a larger organization, you have more structure, you have more cadence, more red tape that you have to follow.

However, on the flip side, when you're in a larger organization, you have that opportunity to do things on a larger scale or do implement different types of approaches and you have that support infrastructure around you. So I'll give you one example. Working in Riverbed, we started to deploy an account based marketing strategy that we very much own for our sales organization today.

But we actually have that set up and that infrastructure around us. We have a team of people that can support us with that. We have technology to support us with that, and we link that into the broader marketing strategy. So it has it, there's pros and cons to both being a small and a large organization.

sedger: be greedy and ask a follow up question. How, like, what advice would you give to marketers that are trying to be more agile and cut through some of that tape in a larger organization? Like, what have you found that is kind of helpful

James: to So I think firstly, it's about using the network and about speaking to other B2B marketers within your sector that have implemented and look at what learnings that they take.

And that's something that I personally try and do with my network and look for opportunities around what's worked, what people's experiences in the past. That's probably the key thing. Then I'd also say to people, encourage people to bring new ideas to the table because just because there's something that's already set up and potentially.

Quite sophisticated within a large organization, there's still opportunity to adapt that and and change your approaches. Right. So that would be my bit of advice. Twofold, really bring those ideas to the table, but also go out there and qualify and quantify some of the experiences and look for opportunities about how you would do things differently and what other companies are doing within the industry.

Help build

sedger: that business case that you can go to your stakeholders.


Jon: think, I think like. I've always, being a techie, I love the term agile because that's how we develop things and how we remain, you know, increase the agility of our software products, like how you mentioned a few times there, like being a small organization, you have the ability to take more risks.

Being a large organization, you have a resources to do things at scale. Like how do you justify like a risk at a large organization? What's the way that you can make the board or you know, your peers feel comfortable doing something that's

James: different. I suppose ultimately, and what we're trying to do this year with our marketing strategy is get closer to the business.

So if you're really and that's really qualifying and quantifying why you should do something. So I think if you can do something in conjunction with the sales organization, which marketing is ultimately there to support, and you align that back to the business priorities and the business objectives and the strategy of the business.

And then you're also aligning that back to your marketing strategy or marketing objectives, right? If you try and glue those two pieces together and demonstrate why you should be doing something and then how you're going to go about doing that. And lastly, what's, what is going to be your success factors behind it?

I think that helps you really demonstrate why you should introduce new things or change the way that you've done things in the past. And that's actually something we're trying to drive within our marketing team together with the business at the moment, as we're going through a bit of a transformation.

Across the business and across marketing ourselves.

Jon: So let's dive into the transformation. What's check this year has been rather last year 2020. We're recording this now in 2024. I got that date wrong earlier, didn't I, Harrod? Yes, you did. The I wrote 2025 already. I was trying to skip an entire year.

Like we've just gone through 2023. It was a difficult year for tech. For a lot of technology what has changed in marketing and what do we think need to start doing as a result?

James: So I think looking at it a couple of ways, I think we're probably still going through the changes that we've had over the last three years, right?

And we're probably seeing the outcome of that. I think for us as a business, right? And a lot of tech. Companies within our space supply has been a challenge, right? So we almost have had, we've almost had a nice problem or a nice situation to be in where we've had a huge backlog. So we haven't had the need to fuel the pipeline, but at the same time, we've had to continue to create brand presence in the marketplace.

Now that obviously we all know the supply challenges that the world's faced, that's all lifting now. And our business is actually growing as a result of that. And we had a great FY 23. However, we now need to think about the future and we're trying to generate more pipeline for our sales organization.

For us as a business as well, we're going on transformation journey. We've acquired companies. We're having to effectively penetrate new market segments. We're having to grow pipeline around those technology areas. So for us, as mark, marketing's more integral within our business than it's probably been for years, if ever.

Right now, when you look at that from a marketing perspective, again, marketing over the last three to four years since the pandemic started has had to really adapt and shift the way we do marketing. The whole event strategy completely changed overnight. The role of digital and virtual events became key.

And I think through the last two to three years, we've made huge learnings, right? Face to face events are starting to come back, and that's a key tactic that we use within our marketing mix. And it's about ensuring that you have a varied and mixed approach in terms of how we do our events. They mix a virtual, physical, physicals coming back in different capacities.

Also linked to that, I think AI and automation has become key. And again, I think that will continue to drive change across marketing. And it's about how marketeers adopt AI through their through their marketing approaches moving forward. I think we probably have used AI to a certain extent in the past.

Through automation through some of the tools that we use to provide us insights in terms of accounts. And then I suppose for us, account based marketing is something that's been around for years. We probably always to a certain extent been driving account based marketing, but for us and the situation we're in today, it's about going back to that alignment to sales.

It's about really taking an account based strategy in conjunction with sales. Using some of the insights and the tools and the market that we have available for us today to identify who those high propensity accounts are that we want to go after and then building a marketing strategy off the back of that.

So really starting with a data driven approach and then aligning a marketing mix behind that, whether that be digital, whether that be virtual, whether that would be physical events. Whether that's being creative and doing new things that we haven't done in the past. And that's a journey that we're on to support the business and to support the business in terms of that continued growth over the next year.

I mean, there's

Jon: a lot to go unpack there. The big one that I noted down as you were talking about is events, right? We saw like overnight with COVID, you're right. We saw events disappear. Then they went to hybrid. Now they're coming back in, in force. Like when you're managing a budget across. feel across such a broad range of countries and disciplines.

Like, how do you balance the, how do you balance the event budget compared to everything else? And what do you see, how do you see that progressing this year? Without going too much

James: away, of course. So firstly, we sort of allocate our budget based upon the regional revenue targets and the growth objectives.

So that's where we first start with budget. When it then comes to the marketing mix and events itself, what we're trying to do with the team is really to think about who are our existing accounts today and how are we going to reach those existing accounts. And that could, again, events has a key part to play in there in terms of us engaging with our technical audience and the business audience and also with the C suite.

So that's our own lead events to the people we know today. We're then also trying to drive new technology areas into those accounts, which means there's new buyers that we need to get in front of. So we therefore need to use not only our sales people, but we also need to go to third parties as well to help support us.

And therefore, from an event strategy perspective, it's identifying who those third parties are that have the right persona that they can help us get in front of that persona. So that's more your round tables, your workshop type events. And then on top of that. We need to look at that. They can also support us getting into net new accounts.

So part of our business objectives this year is to really go and drive net new logos. So again, third parties become key for us. And then from a broader strategy, when you look at driving brand awareness, but also fueling demand as well, we do look for industry events. So I give you one example we have always sold secure connectivity, secure wifi, et cetera, but we're not known as a security company.

We now through our acquisitions, we're more relevant to the security bias, but we don't have those relationships today. So we're looking for those opportunities to show up at industry events, trade shows, where those buyers are present, but also therefore, number one, help create a brand into that particular segment of the market, but secondly, to also drive that engagement.

So that's really how we're looking at our event strategy. It's a mix of us doing more of our flagship events to engage our customers and partners. Secondly, more bespoke workshops roundtables to existing accounts to the people we know today to expand the portfolio and then looking to third parties to help us create that brand awareness.

Open up new logos and also get us in front of the buyers that we don't know today. I think

Jon: the third party piece is often forgotten actually, and it's interesting you mentioned that, you know, we as together, I've got a passion for the channel. And so when you mentioned third party, I think like that's just shows you that we put technology, especially plays in a larger ecosystem.

And so you can't just look at your marketing in isolation. You've got to look at it as something that you play with those third parties to be able to. Again, introductions to that new audience. With, right at the end there, you mentioned brand as well. Like, how do you balance your brand versus demand?

Especially working so closely with sales, they're going to be targeted on. I just want new leads coming in. Like how do you balance those two? And how do you make, how do you make yourself accountable for that

James: balance? It's a good point, right? So I hear it a lot from our sales leaders, in particular when we're trying to enter new segments, enter new verticals.

The ask is we're not known in our market, whether that be a country, a region, a vertical, whatever it might be. So it's always a big question. And can you ever do enough to drive your brand, right? So. It's a tough mix. Now we work and rely quite heavily on our global function to create that brand. Our global team own all of our digital media buying across our top five or six markets in the region.

So we really need to make sure that we're driving a consistent message in line with those global campaigns we drive into those markets. Secondly we need to use our own people to, to drive that brand into the marketplace through social, et cetera. But when it comes to the regional field and also our channel marketing, from a field perspective, like I gave the example of events, right, we also need to look at other opportunities where we can use those platforms to get our voice, to get our brand into the market, while at the same time thinking about how's that going to drive demand for us.

And then given we're 95 percent of our business goes through the channel, right? Whether that be a resale partner, a service provider, a managed service provider partner. And a good percentage of our business is also driven owned end to end by the channel. So we invest significantly together with these channel ecosystem partners.

So part of what we're doing this year is aligning our channel ecosystem partners to our focus areas and looking for those partners that are really going to partner together with us. To go and address the market opportunity we have. So again, from a brand perspective, we're using that partner ecosystem to drive our brand into the market and help us scale our message out.

Potentially into those markets which we're not covering from a direct marketing perspective but also into those markets where maybe we don't have people today. I use Africa as a good example of that for us within HP Aruba Networking. I mean that,

Jon: that's a I'm going to say that's a very mature strategy and I'd love to see how that plays out because I think that You know, we've seen big moves from people like Dell who are doing the same thing with their channel partners.

Microsoft, of course, started that way a few years back, so very interested to see how that plays out. Let's, I'm going to bring Jonathan in more, because Jon, I didn't do any introductions, right? Jonathan, of course, is no stranger to, to being a member, a guest on our podcast. Can't get rid of him.

Yeah, we, yeah, we keep trying, don't we? I just sneak in, you

sedger: know, I wasn't

Jon: even invited to this episode. But let's talk about innovation, right? So You mentioned it a few moments ago, James, like what's been your approach for how you bring innovation to those marketing channels? And have you found that's been harder over the last year, given the economic situation of technology?

And now I'm going to get Jonathan to take over with some more innovation

James: questions. Okay, it's a good question that so I actually only moved into the broader role in May of last year. I haven't had that opportunity to be truly innovative yet. But I think for us last year was when I talk about last year, our financial year finished in October last year.

So, we went through a lot of change in marketing, as I said, we moved from a regionalized decentralized model to a centralized model. So there was a lot of change because that took a little while to bed in. I would say really the driving innovation is going back to the account based marketing approach.

We really kicked that off in earnest, probably about. Six to nine months ago. And with the account based marketing approach, you need to do this hand in hand with sales. And I think part of what were the journey we're still on is we're having to educate sales or not around what we're doing. So part of what I've been trying to do since I moved into the role in May and previously what I did within the channel role.

Was really changing that perception of marketing internally within the business. I want to get us away from just being seen. I know we talked about events, but just being seen as the event engine or the merchandise or the giveaway function within the business to actually we are strategic partners, trusted advisors to the business.

And that's a journey that we've been on. I think we made a lot of progress in the channel in the two years prior. Now we're shifting this more towards our field approach and really. Changing the role of that field marketeer to be away from that event executioner to that strategic partner to sales, where we're taking very much an account led approach using those data, those insights and the tools that we have available.

So I would say that is probably the innovation that we're driving across the team. And actually something I'm focused on as we head through the start of this year is really about the marketing of marketing really. I think we do a great job of marketing to the market, but we don't do a very good job of marketing to our own people in terms of what marketing is actually doing and what we have available.

And that's, again, another focus for me. So maybe we could put that into the innovation bucket to a certain extent because. We're actually trying to drive that innovation across the business and make sure we get a lot closer to sales.

Jon: I think, I mean, let's dive into this because you raised the relationship with sales a few times, and I think it's absolutely vital to achieve some of the outcomes and the opportunity that we mentioned.

What practical advice has helped you to build that relationship with sales? Because I think it is all about the relationship at the end of the day. It's not something that you can necessarily even measure very easily, like however you approach that,

James: building that connection. So I think it's something that comes with experience, right?

And sometimes you get sales leaders that get marketing and are fully engaged with marketing. Sometimes you have others that are harder, right? And I'll give you one example. Back when I joined Riverbed, actually Riverbed was going through a change of its own at the time. They'd had change in sales leadership.

And I remember being warned when I walked into the organization, there were a couple of tough sales leaders. And the first reply I got when I asked the question to the sales leaders is, what's your perception of marketing? They were like, Oh, well, they provide us with giveaways. And sometimes they help us get in front of our customers at events.

Sometimes, just sometimes. And it was at the time when digital marketing was sort of. Taking a bit of a forefront in terms of the direction that marketing was changing. And me talking, this is about eight years ago. So I use the example with sales to say, well, I was trying to think, how do I educate sales around what digital marketing actually is and how does that deliver value to them?

And I started off with something really simple. I took the 15 people within the UK organization at the time. And I brought an agency in to run a social selling workshop. And what we did through that social selling workshop was we educated them around social media, what social media was and how they could use it because 75 percent of the sales organization were just using LinkedIn as their online CV.

They weren't using it to engage prospects promote the brand. They weren't helping us innovate and scale our own marketing efforts through their, to their personal network. So we use that as an opportunity to educate them around the power of LinkedIn and how they could use it to build brand, build their own personal brand, and also drive, use it as a.

Demand generation vehicle, and then we position that under the broader company's digital strategy. And at the time we also had a couple of interns and what we did off the back of it was we offered each of the salespeople a half an hour session with the agency to revamp their social media profile.

We then use the two sales leaders in the region at the time to, we gave access to the intern, to the social media account. We gave the intern a list of accounts and we asked them to go and prospect on behalf. Of those sales leaders. And as a result, they generated leads and they built out their network and their own personal brand.

And that actually changed the perception of marketing within Riverbed. And as a result, we started to build a lot more of a strategic marketing program moving forward, which then evolved into us developing an account based program. And that's just one example where I think if you don't build those relationships with sales and do something in a simple way that delivers value to them under the context of the broader strategy there and ever understand, and that's again.

Something that I try and think and look for opportunities to take that further in, in current roles today. I think

Jon: That's a, such a practical way of approaching it as well. Like, you know, social selling in this case. I'm guessing this was a few, fair few years ago now, like LinkedIn has been on a journey throughout that as well.

So it's so, so well timed. Were they marketing

James: interns or sales interns? They were actually they were sales interns actually. They were actually interns within the business as opposed to within marketing. The

Jon: the, yeah, I think that's such a good example. Like when you try and think of what the right, right follow on question here is, cause I'm still processing that.

sedger: I was just thinking about that, you know, actually sales is a really great source of customer insight as well. And anybody that ignores that, I mean, I'm sure most marketers worth their soul are getting those insights from sales, but it is very much a two way relationship, isn't it? And getting those insights can really kind of.

Help to kind of guide you

James: strategically as well. Yeah, we're actually doing that today So when I think the danger when you go down an account based approach and you're you go They really can't get into you flipping that on its head a little bit, but a propensity model now result of that We're not saying it's how are you gonna do that and when to deliver results in the cell?

I didn't really think that would drive derive value for me I think that's

Jon: been one of the major trends is using data. But the way I've heard it described, when you're combining like 10 calls and getting two on, but a big change in the B2B buyer journey over the last few years. You hinted at it since COVID.

Do you think sales are now more receptive to working with marketing because they know their days are numbered? Or that they know that it's heading in a direction where, you know, a journey that may have been 80 percent sales, 20 percent marketing before, or at least looked that way. Of course this marketer is going to argue that.

Will be 80 percent marketing, 20 percent sales. Like, do you think it's heading that way? Or am I being the harbinger of doom

James: here? No, I think it's heading that way because I think the B2B world is becoming a lot more like the B2C world, right? So the way we as individuals go and do our research and buy is very different to what it was 10 years ago.

I think B2B buying is also going down that road, right? I'm not sure that sales necessarily a hundred percent realize that. Yeah. And I think maybe there's sometimes there's a bit of a blasé approach from sales say, well, you still need me. We still absolutely need sales people. Yeah. I once had a quote from a sales leader who said, do you know what we were talking about?

Pipeline generation versus influenced and where do you draw the line? And he turned around and said, he's a hundred percent of the business that we do is influenced by marketing. Because at some point they will have gone on your social media, on your website. They would have run a demo, they'd have contacted you.

So I think today, and this is why it's important going back to the marketing market, it's important about going back to the account base, it's important about using data. If you try and glue all these things together and you build that strong relationship with sales. Sales then see the value that marketing can bring to them and actually what that enables that sales to do is actually freeze them up the time to actually go and properly account manage on the large strategic accounts, right?

It shifts marketing away from a volume and a pipeline and the traditional waterfall to actually say, well, has this helped you get you into a new account? Has this found you new people within the existing account? Has this changed the perception within an account that maybe we had a strong foothold in today, right?

I think the measures and the impact of marketing is very different. It's now not just about pipeline and new opportunities. It's about actually how quickly do we, the velocity that we push opportunities through the pipeline the size of the opportunities that we're creating, the new logos that we're finding, the expansion into an existing account.

And I think that's where you need to do that together with sales. And I think that's the journey we're on. I love that term velocity,

Jon: by the way. One of our previous guests from quite a few years ago now, actually, like used the term volume, velocity and value. Yeah. And I think like measuring those and showing the impact that has on sales is incredibly important.

Some of the sales leaders I'm speaking to. Yeah, they've over the last six months, you have seen that change where they've really started to wake up and realize marketing have a big impact on all the roost. That's how I tend to come in and go hand in hand with sales, but you're exactly right. We can't, we still can't deliver, can't sell anything without them coming in,

James: especially on enterprise types.

And it's also about not necessarily trying to cover all the sales team. It's about actually picking the sales people there that are willing to engage. Proving that it works and then finding the next set of sales people that are actually, I can see an opportunity. You've almost

sedger: then got a business case internally to go, look, these are the results that we drove from there.

So it's worth you

James: investing your time in it. So I'll give you an example. We, I give the accounts, whatever, but we have a set of global accounts that across our EMEA countries, those global accounts are key, right? And if you look at those global accounts in one of our countries, we're only penetrating about 15 to 20%.

And over, if you look at the revenue over a three year cycle, it's the same accounts that just deliver the revenue in a different cycle. So there's 80 percent of those accounts are large accounts that. Are our customers somewhere across the globe that in that country, we haven't even touched and the sales people within those accounts actually have 50 60 accounts.

Whereas if they identify from that list, the five or six they really want to focus on and partner together with marketing. We will probably see huge growth, isn't it? Isn't

sedger: it? 80 percent of your revenue is coming from 20 percent of your client

Jon: base. Yeah, the like I love some of those propensity models.

So how you what advice would you have for how you provide those to sales for them to be most valuable? Because we see a lot of problems with. Those models being siloed quite often based on the different marketing providers you're using, what different data sources you're using, like, how have you provided that data

James: to sales for it to be helpful?

So, so it was a project that was done across the broader HPE organization, so we can look at everything to accounts that. Maybe a HPE Ariba Networking can stay or not. So it's taken data from lots of different sources. It was originally provided in an Excel document, but obviously that comes out of thing, right?

So we've just moved that onto an online Power BI tool today. So our sales people, and we can actually see this, our sales people can request access to this tool. And then we've trained our marketing people and our sales leaders up on how to use this propensity tool so that they can put whatever filters that they want to onto that data to view it.

So it's, I think more importantly, it's about educating them around this data, really emphasizing that this is a guide. It isn't the gospel truth. We need to use it to try and filter through some of the things that we want to achieve. And then really from a marketing perspective, then working together with sales to educate them on how they use that data and what can we do?

Right. Because it's fine looking at the propensity data in terms of a guide, in terms of who the high potential accounts are. We then layer across our intent platform onto that to say, well, actually, here's the accounts that are really active in that area at the moment, and then we can layer on to that.

So what do we know and get the sales insights into those accounts? Because they may turn around and say, you know what? I've been there. I've tried it. That counts not worthwhile or actually that's new news to me. Let's go and try and explore that further. Got it. Especially

Jon: if someone's showing intent and then like that kind of two way relationship, I think is incredibly important.

sedger: Just thinking of the innovation aspect, an idea that seems to be gaining a lot of traction is around buying groups. As a kind of evolution of kind of ABM methodologies that. On your radar, I'm sure you've probably come across that term and the events that you go to and on and like, how are you thinking about that?

James: Is that kind of on your radar? You mean in terms of different buyers, different personas?

sedger: So yeah, it's that idea that kind of you know, where we started was individual leads. We've kind of moved to accounts now, but that actually the sort of Goldilocks zone is understanding all of the buyers in a specific buying group that are focused on that deal.

And then sort of aggregating those buyers together and kind of treating them as one rather than a sort of whole account that might have various different buying groups looking at different things. Is that something?

James: Yeah. So this is, I suppose when we build our global campaigns, we actually have four campaigns that we put into market through the whole of this year.

We, each quarter we have a focus on campaign. Within those campaigns, then they're designed two specific job titles, two specific personas. So then we gear our messages within those campaigns to those personas. And that's how we sort of target the broader account. When it then comes down into the field, traditionally, we as HP Ariba networking, we sold to the networking teams and predominantly to the more of the technical persona.

So that goes back to maybe a good example is the event strategy, right? We need to think about how do we get to those new buyers that we don't have today? Security is a good example. So we need to use their parties. Or if it's getting to maybe the C suite, what's our C suite strategy? What's our exec, how are we going to leverage our execs to get to the CXOs, the CIOs, the CTOs, et cetera.

So I think it's. It's a mix, right? But absolutely at a global campaign level, we design our messaging to specific persona groups. When it then comes to about engaging accounts, it's then looking at who do we know today and how can we use those to influence internally versus how do we get to net new buyers and personas?

And that again is where our channel becomes key. Because our channel also have the relationships with some of the buyers that maybe we don't have today. So that's why we again invest significantly with our channel to help us get us in front of those buyers that we maybe don't know today.

Jon: I definitely want to come back to the channel point, but we've mentioned about the changing buyer journey.

I mean, Jonathan, you just talked about buyer groups coming into this now as well. Like as you look to make. If you look back on the investments you've made in this role since May, and you look to your budget for this year, like where, how are you looking at making your, how, what investments are you looking at making, essentially, like how, and how is that going to change from based on what you've learned

James: and what you're forecasting?

So I think from a, I'll start with the channel because it's slightly easier, right? Our channel budget is fairly healthy. We, the focus for us over the last year and increasingly this year is really, Looking at who are those partners that are going to grow together with us and then aligning our investments with those partners to go and capitalize on the opportunity.

So, and then when it comes to what we do with the channel, again, getting away from what we've been in the past, which is very tactical investments to more long term strategic investments. So, looking at what's the one year plan that we have with that partner to go and capitalize on the opportunity, whether that's taking a new technology, entering a new market.

So that's the sort of focusing investment with the right partners, then with those partners looking at a long term strategic plan and then really looking at different measurement criteria to see the success of that because our investments through the channel becomes a little bit of a black hole of dark art in terms of how we measure.

So we want to see How is that driving growth of our business, but also growth with that partner? So that's on the channel side on the field side. It's interesting because I would say the way we're reproportioning budget this year is again, going down that target account route. So you can argue for us as marketing overall, it's about focus.

It's about identifying who the right accounts are and who the right. Partners are and also from partner perspective, it's about aligning that account based strategy to say we are going to go direct to these customers, but actually there's a whole tier of customers here that we know a huge potential that we want to use the power of our channel to go and engage.

So on the field side, it's about then not just driving that focus account strategy, but it's then about let's try and do less things, but do them better. And let's make sure they align back to the business priorities, which are. Growing the portfolio into existing accounts, driving the new technology into existing accounts and looking for new logos, which we can drive our portfolio into like

Jon: the channel piece.

I obviously had a particular passion for like when we talk about identifying the right partners. Does that mean the ones that are generating the most business for you now, or like, how have you got, how have you gone about identifying the ones that are

James: right to invest in? It's not necessarily the ones that are driving the business today, right?

We need to look at partners. And again, it's the 80 20 rule, right? We invest 80 percent of our MDF, our marketing development funds with 20 percent of the partners. So it's about looking at those 20 percent of partners and saying, right, they may be the largest ones that we still need to ensure we invest because we, They're key to our business, but they're also growth objectives.

But then it's looking for the upcoming part. It's the ones that have the capability, have the motivation to go and grow their business with us, but also help us get into new markets, get into new segments to take those new technologies to market. So it's the ones that are showing the appetite to go and ensure that they're enabling themselves.

They're educating themselves around those new technologies and really building themselves as a future. So we have a mix really within those focus partners, it could be fairly small partners that actually have the opportunity to significantly grow their business with us. And it's a mix of those larger partners where we see the opportunity to capitalize on the knowledge that they have in the market and the reach they have into that market.

What are the

sedger: signals to kind of signify? Because I guess. A mature partner is quite easy to establish because it's probably going to be more revenue based, but I'm guessing that with smaller parts that it's about engagement with your. Programs and your content, like what are the sort of key signals to go Actually this they might not be doing huge amounts of revenue at the moment, but they look like they've

James: got potential.

So this is where we are relying on our channel sales team, to be honest. We're relying on our partner business managers and our channel leads to identify who those target partners are predominantly. We're also looking at getting new partners as well, right? Or even some in instances.

I'll give you the example of security. We are traditionally known within the networking division of the partner, but actually they may have a security practice that we need to go and penetrate. So it could be about expansion across those existing partners, where we identify that they're a key partner within that market segment for us.

So in answer to your question, predominantly on the data points that we know, obviously around revenue, but also input and direction from the geo leads and the partner business managers. The,

Jon: Yeah, I think it's that identifying those up and coming partners, I think you mentioned like identifying them and then knowing the impact they've had.

It's a dark art, you know, you, we never feel I've never known anyone say, Oh, I've got exactly the reporting I need out of my channel. So coming on to like how you make that case to your, to the CMO, like how do you make the case to invest more in a, in your channel and in field? Like what results are they looking to get back?

How do you make them feel comfortable when there is a little bit of a black

James: box? So, so ultimately I think ultimately sales and the channel organization want to understand what we're getting from our investments because our channel budget actually doesn't sit within the marketing organization. It's actually sales budget.

It comes out of the. The P and L of the business. So they want to know what are we investing and what are we getting from it? And this is a really challenging situation. Historically, we've always measured marketing generated opportunity tied to a campaign that the partner lays into the system. But I think we all realize there's a huge amount of admin that goes behind that.

Which never happens with a partner perspective. Some of it, yeah. And then you get a bit of smoke and mirrors in terms of what's actually realistically come from that campaign. So what we're trying to do, and this is something we haven't solved yet, and it's something we're looking at more broadly outside of EMEA, but from a global perspective and across the broader organisation is, what are those key success metrics and those measures?

But in my eyes, it's not simple, but it's fairly simple in that if you select the 10 partners in a particular region, You then need to do in collaboration with the partner business manager, you need to look at how is that, how are our investments shifting the needle? How many people are we enabling? How many certs are they getting?

What is it driven in terms of new pipeline? How much revenue growth have we seen? Are they adopting the new technology areas that we're trying to drive to market? And I think these become the success metrics. And that's why we've tried to refine the number of partners we're investing. So that the channel team that sit within the marketing team, or the marketeers that sit within the channel team, Can then ensure that they're spending time with the partner to be planning, but then also sitting with a partner in our own teams to be reviewing on a quarterly basis.

What's the direction of the business with our partner and how has marketing impacted that? And that's the journey that we're on because we want to get to a point then we can turn around and say, look, we've invested with these partners and we've seen X percentage growth within those partners. Yeah,

Jon: I think just keeping it simple that we want tend to have this habit of over creating lots and lots of metrics or trying to justify it.

But you're right, like, who are we enabled? What more? You know, let's keep it very simple for reporting back. We were in a period of time where Your budgets are being cut, like how have you, what have you done to help justify every penny that you've spent?

James: Yes, I think it's an interesting, yeah it's an interesting one because we have fairly ambitious growth targets this year as a business, yet budget doesn't grow at the same percentage of the growth that we need.

So I think it goes back to the point of trying to get the field and the channel market is to focus. So focus on who they're investing in and focus on what they're investing in. And I think the other piece is actually, if you drive that closer alignment to your channel and to your sales organization and you become that trusted advisor and all the cliche terms of it, you become that trusted advisor and partner.

You then have the ability to say no. Whereas historically, I think we've always just reacted to the asks. So I think it's having that vision, that strategy, that mission that's aligned back to the business that you have the clear direction and you know who and what you're investing in. And you can start to demonstrate your return, it then gives you the ability to say no to the things that we don't agree or we simply just can't do.

Say no to sales in this case. Say no to sales, yeah. And I

sedger: guess going back to your earlier point, when you can evidence that with data as well, and you've got that trusted relationship, then that

James: sounds like a winning combination. It's tough to say no to sales when you've gone into a financial year or a quarter without a clear strategy and plan that you can't refer back to, which you've agreed with sales.

And it's also tough to say no, when you've always done something in the past and you can't quantify why you shouldn't do it. I'd say that's the motto we've taken as we moved into this year and we've made, as we went through our FY 24 planning and at the end of the summer, it was really important that we had a strong strategy, a strong plan that aligned to the sales and the business vision and mission that we agreed.

Jon: So bring kind of bringing us to a close for today's podcast and reflecting on kind of all everything we've talked about today and you're and reflecting a lot on your past as well in the experience you've had both in small organizations and large organizations. What standout moment in your career would you say led you to drive the most effectiveness and success?

James: That's a good question. I

Jon: don't think I wrote it, I think Nia did. Taking yourself on a trip down memory lane now.

James: I can't take credit for that. I wouldn't say there's one memorable thing because I think it's a collection, it's a collection of different milestones during my career that helped me arrive at some of the things that.

I do today. Right. So I think I think having the opportunity to learn within all the organization I've worked in and having the opportunity to almost get out into different areas that maybe I wouldn't have done in the past has helped me gain that experience and knowledge of what's happened.

Or happening across businesses. So it's a really tough one to answer. I'd say having the experience of working in large and small organizations and seeing the dynamics and the the needs of those organizations, right, has helped me sort of arrive at some of the things that I do today, so I can't really pinpoint it down onto one thing.

I think it's a collection of things across the last. 1920 years I

Jon: mean, I've been making a few notes as we've been going through. So I'm going to help you reflect change. Like one thing that's really come across for me in this, like if I was starting, if I was a marketer now and I'm your financial years, October, lots of financial years start kind of ended this month.

Like if I'm reflecting on my own goals, I would say. It's about building that relationship with sales and you've, you just come had some great words there, which is, you know, understand the dynamic, understand their needs. I think all of us have marked tears, even though the B2B buyer journey has changed radically, we need to be open minded and have a growth mindset to know that they're still needed.

Like we can't be arrogant. And so building that relationship with sales. I think the other couple of things that really stood out are keeping it simple and focus like doing less is, I've just had conversations with my desk, but all morning this morning having conversations with my team on what we've come to the conclusion is less is more, like let's be more focused this year.

And so all of those things added up, but you're building relationship with sales, keeping it simple and focus adds up to a word that you use over and over again in this podcast, which is opportunity. And I think you've got to put yourself out there. To build the opportunity. But that means building those relationships and being

James: focused about it.

And I'd also actually just thinking about that, completely agree on those and I'd add one more and I think it's about communication as well. Yep. And I think it's about communication and honesty and being yourself, right? Because you help build those relationships and relationships ultimately then drive that engagement.

So that's probably what I just add to the end of that.

Jon: It's actually a really relevant point, right? I think we all get caught up. Especially with your background and experience working in so many different organizations. I think we all get caught up feeling that we should be the marketeer, you know, the marketeer that they put on a pedestal.

The ideal marketeer. And actually, we've got a lot of experience. And so if your gut doesn't feel right. You need to be yourself and go and communicate that so and that means building trust with sales As you mentioned to be able to go in and have those tough conversations and not just agree James, it's been a real pleasure to have you on the tech marketing podcast today it's been absolutely incredible to go through your experience and you know Good luck this year with

James: achieving some of your goals.

Thank you for the opportunity. Great to speak to you. Cheers

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