Kaspersky CMO outlines new partner initiatives and resources

PUNTA CANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Last week, Kaspersky Lab held its third annual Americas partner conference, where the company’s chief marketing officer for the Americas, Randy Drawas, unveiled five key attributes the vendor wants its partners and customers to associate with its brand.

The Russian security vendor has been in the Americas region since 2005 and in Canada for over a year. With this in mind, Kaspersky executives realized they needed to further “ignite” the brand to “really get it going” in the marketplace, Drawas said.

The company worked together with Interbrand Corp., a brand consultancy company, to help with its branding strategy and to better determine what the Kaspersky brand is all about. What Kaspersky eventually came up with were five key brand attributes under the acronym RADOR, which stands for relentless expertise, always ahead, different, optimize and reassuring.

CDN caught up with Drawas during the conference to discuss the company’s marketing initiatives, branding efforts and its recently launched Kaspersky’s security news service, better known as ThreatPost.

Below is an edited transcript.

CDN: What are some key marketing initiatives that Kaspersky is working on this year?

Randy Drawas: We’re really excited about what we have going in Canada. Canada offers us a wealth of new opportunities. Over the course of 2009, we’ve dramatically increased (almost doubled) our press coverage. Building the brand and the awareness in the marketplace, we think, is the number one thing for us to do. We’re also doing massive expansions right now in the area of field marketing specifically to bring our programs closer to local markets and into the regions. We have people that will be coming through the marketing group to support both our own sales teams that work directly with the channel, as well as directly with the channel partners themselves. We prototyped this new approach to field marketing over the course of Q3 and Q4 of last year. Now we’re stepping up our activity on the ground.

Everything we deliver goes directly through the channel. We’ve built out a sophisticated marketing automation capability within Kaspersky to be able to refine the demand that we pass through the channel. From a demand generation point of view, we’re pretty excited that we’ll be increasing the number of lead volume and probably doubling it in 2010. We’re also trying to move our leads up-market a bit from small businesses to medium, on towards enterprise.

We have our partner portal in three languages: English, Spanish and Portuguese. Unfortunately it’s not available in French-Canadian, but maybe one day. The English portal supports our Canadian market and on that we have some sophisticated tools which are now coming alive.

The first is a product configurator which has just been released, where it’s very simple for a partner to key in some requirements of their customers and automatically get configuration options that they can pick and choose from, and automatically (build) a quote sheet (they can) customize and put in things like training, support and services. That directly links into our deal registration program too.

Within the partner portal itself, there’s an enormous amount of tools we’re introducing from battle cards, to competitive analysis, to competitive presentations, to how to sell security — not just Kaspersky, but in general. We’re offering new programs through Kaspersky University to help onboard partners’ new hires and train them on security and Kaspersky products. All of these things have been built over the course of 2009 and are now rolling out in 2010 for a much more dramatic push into the Canadian market.

In complement to our MDFs, we just introduced the Kaspersky Katalyst program. The Katalyst program is specifically geared to finding those champions within our partners that we can focus on efforts around to help them help us be successful with their customers. That really gives them special privileges, a higher level of support and lots of other benefits.

CDN: Why do find your partners find branding so challenging?

R. D.: One of the things we heard last year at our partner conference for the Americas, was we asked our partners, what is the biggest challenge you see from Kaspersky? And hands down, the number one thing is, your brand needs to be strengthened. We came out of that partner conference and we launched an aggressive push to better understand lots of things about our brand. We wanted to understand people’s buying habits, perceptions of the competitors and perceptions of ourselves. How do people see us, what do they like about us, what don’t they know about us, what are the things that are the positive attributes of who we are? We engaged Interbrand to help us think through this process and in the end, we came away with a much clearer understanding of who it is that we are. We kind of always innately knew, but now it’s more tangible for us and also we have a better understanding of how people see our competitors. That’s an opportunity we’re going to embrace in 2010.

To help our partners better brand themselves and enable them, we have initiatives that are events-driven and there are MDFs, along with key sales tools and training. There’s also a new initiative we announced about a year ago called ThreatPost. ThreatPost was created as a result of the company’s vision, which is to build awareness of what’s really going on (in the IT security space). It’s intended to address and provide enormous partner opportunities for our channel to leverage their own marketing efforts too.

When we launched ThreatPost in March 2009, we launched it in U.S. and Canada. We’ll promote it more in the Canadian market now. ThreatPost was built to support the entire Kaspersky ecosystem to also create demand. All demand goes through the channel and it also supports our technology alliances too. In less than a year, we’re seeing over 150,000 page views a month which is quite large. Once we hit that 200,000 plus mark, we’ll open the site up for our partners to participate directly in the site and get some return back.

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