Avaya to do more joint marketing programs with partners in expanded and more aggressive marketing strategy

Avaya has announced a new branding initiative in which their solution offerings will be renamed more logically and by function. That’s only one part of where Avaya is going this year on the marketing front, however, with a more aggressive campaign than they have implemented before.

AUSTIN — On Monday at Avaya Engage here, Avaya announced a new branding initiative in which their solution offerings will be renamed more logically and by function, under a general umbrella of IX for Intelligent Xperience. All the products are being renamed as well. That’s a huge part of Avaya’s new marketing initiative, but it is only one part, as the company embarks on a more assertive marketing campaign than they have done in the past. It will include more emphasis on working with channel partners in joint marketing initiatives.

“We will be a sales-led partner organization – both direct sales and partner sales,” said Becky Carr, Avaya’s Chief Marketing Officer, who joined the company last April. “When I joined, I had to look at what our brand stood for. Avaya is an incredible technology, but the last couple years, a lot of new ankle-biters – new competitors who came into the market – gave us a run for our money. We had to revitalize our brand.”

Carr re-emphasized what has been a common theme from Avaya executives at this event – that the old product portfolio was a swamp, and was much too complicated.

“We had product names all over the place – Breeze, Oceana, Equinox,” she said. “We also had acronyms galore. Everything was an acronym. When we rearchitected our Internet site, there were 12,000 product sheets! That’s not how you sell any more. The whole paradigm has shifted.  87 per cent of customers now make a decision before they talk with a partner or a customer. We knew we had to have more thought-provoking points of view to deal with that. We had to do more story-telling.”

Accordingly, in the last six months, Avaya has rewritten the entire website, as well as taken the decisions to simplify the portfolio.

“We are now customer-led,” Carr stressed. “It means that we are simple in how we talk about things. The goal is to be plain-spoken, and confident in our value propositions. That culminated this week in the announcement of the new naming portfolio.”

Carr acknowledged that the old names were somewhat disjointed, and had little relevance to their function.

“We also thought it was important to emphasize intelligence, because AI is at the core of the new Avaya,” she said. Accordingly IX – Intelligent Experience – is the new master brand.

Becky Carr, Avaya’s CMO

“The key for success in branding will be consistency,” she stated. “There is a real commitment, and an internal rally cry. The past is gone. We need to be really loud and proud about who we are. Everyone is aligned around that.”

All the branding decisions have been made, although some of them have not been announced, and if you go looking for them on the website, you won’t find them.

“They will be rolled out over the next couple of months,” Carr said.

The newer brands like Zang, Oceana and Breeze [which has already been renamed once; it was originally the Avaya Engagement Development Platform, which was ultra-clunky, if closer in spirit to the new nomenclature] will be renamed quickly. It’s less clear what will happen with old warhorses like Aura and IP Office. Several executives said that they will go as well, but will just last longer. However, Karen Hardy, Vice President, Product Marketing and Solutions, suggested that may never happen.

“It’s more likely that something like on-prem IP Office will keep its name because that’s what everyone knows it as, and changing it would be more trouble than it’s worth,” she said. “It’s more likely those old brands will eventually fade out with the products at the point when everything goes to the cloud.”

Carr emphasized that the channel will play a more dynamic role in Avaya’s marketing going forward, something that was not the case in the past.

“I consider the channel to be another sales channel,” she stated. “Three months ago, our partners had 17 different web sites they had to go to. We just launched a month ago a consolidated sales and partner portal. We are now putting a lot of emphasis on our partners because we understand that they are our fastest path to revenue. We need to make them successful or we will fail.”

That will include more joint marketing initiatives.

“I’m working with some of our larger partners to do joint marketing,” Carr said. “We haven’t done any of that. ConvergeOne is building out a health care practice, and  together we will be at the HIMSS conference this year with ConvergeOne in the booth. I also extended this invitation to all partners in the audience in my keynote yesterday.”

Carr said that Avaya will also be increasing their marketing spend to get better leads, most of which will go to partners. She said that while the leads will be better, there will be fewer of them, which in this case is a good thing.

“We are heavily investing in SEO and very targeted digital marketing,” she said. “It’s all about providing leads. Three people on my team now qualify all these leads before they go to partners or sales. About 80 per cent go to partners and 20 per cent to direct sales.”

In the past, Avaya sent partners much less qualified leads.

“We gave them hundreds of leads, but many of them were people with a pulse who read something online,” she said “We don’t want to send them something unless we are confident that it justifies use of their time. The first response was ‘omigod, our leads have dried up!’ But now 80 per cent of leads turn into sales-qualified opportunities. They also are required to follow up on those leads quickly and if not, they get put in the penalty box.”

The other thing Avaya is doing now is account-based marketing.

“This is where we partner with sales leaders, around accounts which are up for renewal, or ones which the competition is in,” she said. “We sit down with their sales organization and develop a marketing strategy for the account.”