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Last week I traveled down to New Orleans, the Big Easy, to present to members of our Partner Operations Advisory Board (POAB) about how Cisco communicates with them. Given this group of more than 30 US and Canada channel partner representatives started the day at 8 a.m., I figured my coveted 3:30 to 5 p.m. slot had assured me a quick preso with an occasional nod of the head followed by a groan or two — complete communication synergy between us and our partners. But, like the great advisors they are, this group knew this was an opportunity to be heard and so the screaming began. OK, it wasn’t that bad at all and I only had one sharp object thrown at me. In the end, we had a great discussion about how Cisco can improve its communication to partners.Communications was one of the many topics of discussion during our gathering in New Orleans. Check back tomorrow for a video featuring a variety of partner feedback we received at POAB.In the meantime, I’ve identified a list of the key communications takeaways after the jump. Here are my key takeaways.

  1. Email isn’t the only or even the best communication vehicle and yet it appears to be Cisco’s most popular way to communicate with us.
  2. When we send communications to our partners we should “flag it by audience,” meaning: Who is the intended audience? Is this an executive message? A marketing message? A sales message? Or a technical message?
  3. Create a partner communications archive that is easy to search. One partner said, “Cisco could never meet my communication needs because the reality is…I don’t know what I need until I need it, but if I could search an archive, that would be very helpful.”
  4. Allow partners to select how to receive communication from Cisco (blog, Twitter, email, newsletter, texting, etc…) and then communicate to them using only that vehicle.
  5. Make content relevant to the partner. One partner said, “I get too many emails from Cisco clearly written for the end customer. If I have to translate customer speak into partner actions, I won’t read it, and it will simply wait for my Channel Account Manager to call and ask me if and/or why it is important.”

Bottom line, while we aren’t terrible when it comes to communicating to partners, we aren’t world-class either, so it’s time to make some changes. The list above is just a sample of some of the great ideas I received from our Partner Operation Advisory Board, but I welcome your feedback as well. How can Cisco improve its communication to partners?

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6 Comments.


  1. For Channel Partner Program updates, we have set up an announcement page which is RSS Feed enabled. In this way, partners have one location to go to where they can view up-to-date news about the program when they need/want to do so. Visit http://www.cisco.com/go/announcements.

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  2. I will recommend using http://ePostMailer.com for all permission based e-mail marketing needs. Its the best free desktop email marketing software I have used so far.”

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  3. We created a collaborative Partner ‘community’ which has discussion threads that reach over 1,000 views. This seems like it is addressing the communications needed between thousands of Partners and our experts (TME, PM, SE, Escalation Engineers, marketing…etc). We have application notes posted there which cover the whole portfolio and all you need to do is come and ask us a question and we will help you.Try it out… http://www.cisco.com/go/smallbizsupport.

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  4. I would offer that the problem isn’t simply that of too much email, but rather that of too many differing tools and channels via which information is distributed. Managing all of these news sources each with their different access or content distribution methods is daunting. And if one does not invest significant effort into constantly managing these they run the risk of missing something critical. Two examples of this have been posted as comments to this entry before my own. Other off the top of my head: this blog, national and regional channels team distribution lists, CPI newsletters, NetPro, Support Wiki, Partner Central, Cisco Communities, CCO Subscription Center, The Vibe, WebEx Portal, WebEx Connect Spaces…Given all these channels, it is very common for a colleague to know about something I do not, or to receive the same information many times. Though I wouldn’t suggest that a single tool can suffice for all needs, there definitely is a lot of room to streamline these efforts.

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  5. Fred-Great points, you are echoing a lot of what I heard in New Orleans and just like I committed to them, I will commit to you, we will get better. My initial thought is, similar to how TweetDeck allows me to easily see a variety of Twitter feeds as well as Facebook in a single view. We need to make communications from Cisco easier for our partners to access and follow.Thanks for the feedback and keep it coming.”

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  6. Fred-Great points, you are echoing a lot of what I heard in New Orleans and just like I committed to them, I will commit to you, we will get better. My initial thought is, similar to how allows me to easily see a variety of Twitter feeds as well as Facebook in a single view. We need to make communications from Cisco easier for our partners to follow.Thanks for the feedback and keep it coming.”

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