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Cisco Maintains Marketing Velocity Momentum With PartnersCisco Maintains Marketing Velocity Momentum With Partners

Cisco Gold Partner takes the leap from little to no marketing to digital marketing.

Lynn Haber

November 16, 2016

5 Min Read
Cisco Maintains Marketing Velocity Momentum With Partners

a219a2094f9b46ce90a39251819c8712.jpgWhile channel partners attending Cisco Partner Summit (CPS) – held at the beginning of November in San Francisco – got a good dose of marketing education and direction, the lack of an auxiliary Cisco Marketing Velocity event was obvious, yet strategic.

“Marketing should be built into the entire Partner Summit agenda, yet at the same time we recognize that our audience at Partner Summit isn’t always marketers,” Michelle Chiantera, vice president of global partner marketing at Cisco, told us.

ee1da61ed7af4c69818e3f780f79db9c.jpgSo, going forward, Cisco partners will get both: marketing sessions integrated into Partner Summit and a standalone Cisco Marketing Velocity, to be held in Chicago, April 24-27, 2017 — the company’s 10th such event.

At the CPS held last month, Cisco CMO Karen Walker outlined how the company continues to build on and expand its marketing enablement for partners who are challenged with the task as the evolving buyer’s journey impacts their bottom line.

To that end, partners must adopt digital marketing initiatives as industry research reveals that 57 percent of all purchasing decisions are made before a supplier (aka partner) is called, and 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is done online.

It’s time for partners to get uncomfortable and move from traditional marketing methods, such as events and telemarketing, for example, to digital — and show up where the buyers are.{ad}

That’s exactly what happened at ShoreGroup, a Cisco Gold Partner. The IT life-cycle services and network solutions provider, based in New York City, has 80 employees. Over the past few years, Susan Andersen, director of marketing at ShoreGroup, increasingly took advantage of Cisco’s marketing enablement and took the channel company from doing little to no marketing, as recently as 2013, to getting company executives on board with her more sophisticated marketing efforts.

Back in 2013, ShoreGroup executives didn’t understand why the company needed to improve its marketing, which at the time consisted mainly of events. Andersen, who was initially brought in to help launch a product – which actually never was introduced – got involved with other tasks related to events such as creating data sheets.

She eventually found her way to Cisco’s partner marketing offerings and decided that ShoreGroup needed to break ground with marketing.

“I took advantage of Cisco joint-marketing funding and pay per click as well as other sources of funding offered by Cisco,” she told us. She also invited customers to webinars produced by Cisco and took advantage of prebuilt campaigns, targeted marketing, and the marketing-automation platform that Cisco offered.

Today, ShoreGroup, sales and C-suite, understands the importance of digital marketing, tighter sales and marketing alignment, and has set marketing goals, such as improved brand recognition, lead generation and qualified sales leads.

In the eight months that transpired between Cisco Marketing Velocity 2016 in San Diego and CPS held in November, Cisco has built on Cisco Engage digital marketing services and broadened its digital marketing strategies.

For several years now, Cisco has been a leader in helping partners on their marketing journey and according to Chiantera, acceleration is strong. Cisco’s Engage Marketing Suite offers …


… education, training experts and best practices — and enables partners with the tools to take action made available through Cisco’s Partner Marketing Central.

Recent initiatives from Cisco include Cisco Ready Data for partners. By making customer data – including predictive analytics – available to partners, they’re better positioned to capture opportunity as they help move customers through life-cycle experience via conversations and marketing efforts.

Cisco also created a digital platform where partners can be a part of the company’s brand campaigns.{ad}

“What this means is that we’re telling stories and we’re being inclusive in what partners can participate in and we’re continuing to build on this,” said Chiantera. That includes making available all of Cisco’s digital assets and giving partners visibility into its brand campaigns before it hits the market.

“That’s incredibly different from how Cisco handled things in the past which was more conservative,” she added.

Demand generation is an area where Cisco works with partners as it makes available various digital assets and services such as social media content assets that partners can quickly syndicate on their own digital vehicles; and services such as paid search, where Cisco works with partners on specific word searches and helps them drive organic search.

By leveraging Cisco content and services and working with the vendor, partners can save time and money, the company said.

“And, we know that not all of our partners have robust marketing organizations so it certainly plays into the resource aspect of it,” Chiantera told us.

The vendor is also setting clear goals on giving leads. In FY 2016, 2,200 partners worldwide got leads from Cisco generating $3 billion in sales-qualified leads for partners who worked with Cisco in closing that business, she shared. Cisco will continue to offer this entitlement.

Finally, Cisco is personalizing Partner Marketing Central, which launched earlier this year. This personalization today includes a tailored view for partners into content and funding for what they sell. Partners can expect to see additional functionality, such as being able to rate the programs that the networking giant makes available — and also to make available programs to partners based on searches they have done.

“We want to get a lot more intelligent about the information we put up for partners,” said Chiantera.

At the end of the day, Cisco isn’t moving away from traditional marketing efforts but is offering partners a blended approach that’s intentionally building digital marketing momentum. Cisco recognizes that it can’t treat every partner the same — and that recognition is a critical part of its marketing strategy.

Chiantera shared some ballpark figures for partner marketing efforts: About 10 percent of partners are highly sophisticated in their marketing efforts; half use very traditional methods and invest in cold calling, telemarketing blitzes, and events; and 40 percent are not investing in marketing. That last figure has decreased from more than 50 percent just a couple of years ago.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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