Russ: Hi, I’m Russ Capper. Welcome back to The BusinessMakers Show, coming to you today from the Houston campus of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and my guest is Meaghan Avocato, Marketing Communications Manager for Enterprise Group Americas. Meaghan, welcome to The BusinessMakers Show.
Meaghan: Thanks for having me; glad to be here.
Russ: You bet. So, I want your definition of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Meaghan: Hewlett Packard Enterprise, I would say, is the newest Fortune 50 technology company, which I think is pretty impressive for lots of our customers to hear that. But it’s, you know, it’s sort of an innovative thing as well because it’s our opportunity to sort of rebrand ourselves from what people know us to be. So, I think it’s a really exciting way to say to our customers that we’re both a new company and we’re that same company you’ve trusted with your business for dozens of years.
Russ: Ok, so when I hear that, and I think of the marketing challenge of rebranding a company that’s 50+ years old, and that’s kind of separated from its other part, that is a significant marketing challenge, is it not?
Meaghan: It is. It’s a big challenge. You know, I think people think that they have this established relationship with what was Hewlett Packard, and we really want to reintroduce them to the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise, because it is different and we really want to differentiate ourselves both in the market and from our competitors.
Russ: Ok, and you can’t let it take a long time for them to become knowledgeable of what Hewlett Packard Enterprise is, right?
Meaghan: That’s right, yeah. You know, we’ve got entirely new branding; we’ve got a new logo and it’s not going to be long before people start seeing it and thinking to themselves, wait a minute, something’s different here. So, we want to be the ones to tell them about it.
Russ: Ok, well I want to go down that path but I’ve kind of got the picture of how these two parts came apart. But I’m curious, right now with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, it’s the same products and services that you were selling when it was one, at least for now, but the plan is to add to it along the way. Do I have that right?
Meaghan: Mostly. So, yeah the idea is we’ve kind of always got an innovation engine running. And that’s what we really want our customers to know, is that HPE is sort of innovation central and at all times we are coming up with what’s going to be the next big thing in the IT industry. So, we’re selling the products that customers know and love but we’re also kind of ultimately always under development for churning out new and different ideas that are really going to shake up business and make it more effective for our customers.
Russ: Ok, and then also in this separation it sort of put you more squarely in the middle of some major competitors as well, right? I mean, there’s several people that you kind of are in this category right now with you, right?
Meaghan: That’s right, yeah. I mean, I think in our space, obviously, we’re competing with folks like Cisco, IBM sold their server business to Lenovo so we’re dealing with some new folks there, Nutanix in certain spaces. So, lots of competitors, lots of folks that we’re trying to sort of say, we’re different, we can stand out and here’s why.
Russ: And the mission kind of falls into your court to kind of really kick the ball off of defining the new brand. Do I have that right, too?
Meaghan: That’s right, yeah, absolutely. So we take it out and say, you think you know us, and maybe you do, but we’ve got a whole lot of new stuff to tell you about.
Russ: Ok so how in the world are you going to do that?
Meaghan: So, it takes some creativity, I think. What we want to do is sort of take that message out to customers and say, let us reintroduce ourselves to you. Let us sort of reposition what Hewlett Packard Enterprise is and make sure that you’ve got a good understanding of who we are and what our business is built on. So we’re going to take that message out to customers in a new roadshow series, and we’re actually going to seven different stops, major markets within the US, to sort of tell folks, this is what we’re about; this is why we’re new, this is why we’re different. And the way we’re kind of going to change that up is to, what I like to say, get outside of the ballroom.
You know, lots of people go to a roadshow and they’re used to being in a really nice Four Seasons ballroom, and it’s beautiful, and we’ve got this great catered lunch for you, and that’s great, but we also want to be able to shake that up a little bit and make it a little bit different. So, we’re actually having these take place in NFL stadiums.
Russ: NFL stadiums, wow.
Meaghan: That’s right, yeah. Well, with the Super Bowl coming up—
Russ: Not while the game is going on.
Meaghan: No no. Not while the game is going on but we are kind of hot on the heels of the Super Bowl so hopefully it will still be on people’s minds starting that first week after February.
Russ: Ok, wow. So, what are the cities?
Meaghan: Lots of different cities. So, we’re starting in Houston on February 9th. And we’ve got Houston, Dallas, Santa Clara, and then we’re going to do DC, Atlanta, Boston, and Denver.
Russ: Ok. It’s interesting you chose, you know, stadiums. I mean, the grandeur of some of those facilities is just breath taking. You’ll probably get people that come to them just because they want to see the stadium, right?
Meaghan: Yeah, well that’s the hope, you know. We want people to sort of think about the spectacle that is the space and going somewhere fun to hear a new and different message, and a fun message at that. So, we kind of want to pair that sort of feel of the new HPE with the feel of the NFL and the excitement that both of those messages give.
Russ: Ok so you said starting right after the Super Bowl. So, what is the target, you don’t have to give me all of the dates, but the timespan of these events.
Meaghan: Yeah, so Houston kicks off on February 9th and we run all the way through March 10th.
Russ: Ok, wow. And are people getting invitations or are you kind of opening it up to all your customers? How does that work?
Meaghan: Yeah, so it’s kind of an interesting sort of situation. So, we’re inviting HP employees, so our sales folks. We’re inviting partners, but ultimately we want this to be a customer event, really to come an hear what that message is and why you care, why it’s new, why it’s different. So, our salespeople largely are reaching out to their accounts and saying, hey you know, come talk to us, come meet us, come be reintroduced. And then we’re also inviting a select group of customers to a breakfast the morning of each of those events where they’ll have the chance to meet an NFL player from the home team, which is pretty cool.
Russ: That’s really cool. Ok, so marketing in 2016 is just over the top; it’s not business as usual. So what triggered this idea of a roadshow with NFL stadiums? How did that evolve?
Meaghan: Yeah, you know when we sort of took this idea of, let’s get a chance to sort of say hello to HPE, how are we going to take that opportunity to and kind of seize it? And do we kind of just want to go par for the course and maybe just do a beautiful event, right? Even if it’s stunning, people kind of feel like they’ve done it dozens of times, and if we’re trying to reach out to a decision maker, a CIO or a CTO, they get invited to beautiful, grand events all the time as well. So it’s got to be something different, something kind of fun, and just the time of the season that it was, we were starting to head right into playoffs, and I think football was kind of on everybody’s mind, and so we thought to ourselves, you know what if we did this a little differently? And we took advantage of a space that’s not usually for, you know, big seating for hundreds of people, but made it fun and different and interesting. So, that’s why we did that.
Russ: Ok, so was this in like a marketing group? Was it a meeting? Was it one person that drove it? How did you arrive at this?
Meaghan: Yeah, you know, sort of started in our group. We took this from a roadshow that started last fall, and it was done in these great hotel venues, and we said we’re going to do an extension of that in the US because we think that we need to take that message further, but how are we going to do it? So, we started kind of kicking around ideas in our group and ultimately this one came up and we thought: is that something we can really pull off? And, we thought we’d take a chance on it, and I think it’s going to work out well.
Russ: Ok, great. So, let’s say somebody’s watching right now and they say, wow, they’re coming to my city, I want to go. How can they get more information?
Meaghan: So, we’ve got landing pages for each of those cities that have all the details about the speakers, the athlete who is coming, the agenda for the day. So, there is seven different register pages, effectively. But I think probably the easiest way for you to get more information is just to reach out to me directly. My email address is pretty easy; it’s just Meaghan, Meaghan@hpe.com.
Russ: Really cool. Well, Meaghan, thank you for sharing this with me and good luck with the roadshow.
Meaghan: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Meaghan Avocato, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Enterprise Group Americas. And this is The BusinessMakers Show.
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