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Content Marketing is just another ‘buzzword’!

Buzzwords.  There seems to be a new one every year that people fall over themselves trying to get into conversations.  Companies pounce on the new word, like a tiger capturing its prey, and set-up ‘Tiger Teams’ to determine how they can embrace the changes afoot that the said word will bring about. And, let’s not forget the rush to update LinkedIn profiles with the buzzword because everybody, of course, is now an expert in it!

I often think buzzwords highlight opportunities that have been overlooked and are things we should already be doing.

Content marketing, for me, is one of those buzzwords.  It is after all simply, ‘marketing’. And more crucially it is marketing that both stimulates and engages your customers into a conversation.  Marketing has always featured content.  But what we have all woken up to is the fact that content must be authentic, relevant to your audience and human if it is to stand any chance of being conversational.

It’s reported that the average person spending 2 hours 57 minutes a day on their digital device.   Customers armed with digital devices wield them like machetes in a jungle, cutting through dense growth on journeys to find information about products and services.

A ‘one size fits all’ broadcast approach to marketing doesn’t work anymore. Did it ever truly work?  No, probably not. Past success could partly be attributed to lack of brand competition.  But with more brands today competing for customers’ attention, customers have purchasing muscle – and they’re not afraid to flex it.  It is now important more than ever that your brand stands out and helps customers who want to talk to you. But how?

one size fits all

Marketing is and has always been about storytelling.  Storytelling has existed since the beginning of time and has been used by brands for hundreds of years.  A carefully crafted story that resonates, creates brand attachment and a reason to engage is a sure fire way of building an authentic relationship.

What a customer experiences on their buying journey should not be underestimated and it is our job as marketers to quench their thirst for knowledge and provide them with relevant content.

Content and storytelling is nothing new.  So why the hype around ‘Content Marketing’?   Maybe other buzzwords such as ‘Big Data’ took our attention away from what we are fundamentally here to do……tell stories.

Marketers must re-familiarise themselves with the art of storytelling.  It is the experience you create and the skilful way you tell your story that will retain customer and attract new prospects.

STORYTELLING 1

So in summary, instead of focusing on ‘Content Marketing’, let us focus on Marketing and the art of conversation.  Talking and listening to customers with messaging that engages, resonates, ignites passion and creates emotional attachment to your brand.

The next time you hear a new buzzword.  Ask yourself this; what is it highlighting that you have overlooked?

Smarketing: A Sales & Marketing Love Story

Once upon a time, sales and marketing were in love

True, Marketing wanted a long-term relationship and Sales only wanted a one-night stand, but it was clear where everyone stood.

Then, the relationship began to change

With the advent of digital and social tools, buyers – not sellers – stepped into the driver’s seat.  They began using online means to conduct ROI analyses before making final purchasing decisions.  Today, according to Sirius Decisions, buyers are more informed than ever because they’ve got access to online content as well as an extensive online peer network.  And, according to a recent DemandGen Buyer Behaviour report, almost half of buyers create a short-list of potential vendors and one- third conduct initial research on solution options before the first communication with a sales rep.

Marketing started to use tactics that buyers, not Sales, preferred

Marketing started to change too.  As Cisco’s CMO Karen Walker has said, “Marketing was the last function to be industrialised and the first function to be digitised.” With the buyer in control, Marketers started moving away from outbound tactics like tradeshows, live events, and email campaigns that Sales was used to.  We started using digital tactics that matched the buyers’ desire to look for information online using search engines, vendor websites, and social media sites. But neither Sales nor Marketing was happy.  Things got so bad that Hubspot reported:  “87% of the terms sales and marketing teams use to describe each other are negative.”

Enter Revenue Marketing

Like a good marriage counsellor, Revenue Marketing helped Sales and Marketing rekindle their relationship.  In a nutshell, Revenue Marketing ensures that Marketing strategies and campaigns align with Sales and business objectives to generate a measurable ROI to the bottom line.  Using Revenue Marketing principles, Marketing started to transform from a cost centre to a revenue centre. Marketing and Sales began to work in partnership again. And they began speaking the same language – using terms of endearment like planning, forecasts, pipeline, bookings, and revenue.

Back on track:  Smarketing

Today, the romance between Sales and Marketing is back on.  And, like all happy couples, they’re using a pet name:  Smarketing.  Hubspot defines the term Smarketing as “the alignment between your sales and marketing teams created through frequent and direct communication.” We’ve embraced the term and the concept here at Cisco, and here are four lessons learned to strengthen the relationship between sales and marketing.

4 Tips For Smarketing bliss

 1. Speak a common language

It’s important to be on the same page. For example, here at Cisco, Sales and Marketing both know exactly what we mean by terms such as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL), Sales Accepted Leads (SAL), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL).

2. Gaze in the same direction

Marketing and Sales must also share revenue goals and strategies.  We have defined how much Marketing will contribute to Sales  – both to the pipeline and to bookings.  We have also articulated what each team will do to support the others’ efforts.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Once you’re on the same page, tune your operational systems to give visibility into results – and refine your processes continually.  At Cisco, Sales and Marketing use common reporting dashboards and hold each other accountable.  Both teams listen and respond to feedback.

 4. Celebrate success hand-in-hand

Now that Marketing can concretely prove its value, both teams can celebrate together. This builds strong team morale.

Smarketing may be a cute term but it has very real ramifications.  In fact, according to a study done by the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment can get 20% annual revenue growth.  Now that’s worth celebrating.

So please raise a glass and join me in congratulating the happy couple.  To….Smarketing!

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Some tuning on Cisco.com search

We’ve done some fine-tuning on the search on Cisco.com:

  • It should feel faster, especially after the first search you do
  • Results should be even more relevant
  • Popular features like the “information box” for key queries remain intact

Let us know how it’s working for you!

vni-search

 

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Cisco.com: Did you notice?

If you’re an astute visitor to Cisco.com, you’ll notice a couple of our prominent pages have gotten some nice functional updates. .

First, the all new Support & Downloads page, which went just through some tweaks, streamlining, and a mobile-friendly update:

JuneSupport2015

Some new functions on the new Support & Downloads page:

  • Quicker searches for downloads and products
  • Easy focus on top product categories
  • Quick, visible access to open support cases, recent downloads, and recently visited products in support
  • “Responsive” so it works nicely on smartphones (along with more than 7,000 mobile-friendly model support pages underneath)

Also, not too long ago, we created a new Products & Services gateway page:

JuneProductsRoot1015

Among the things we’ve updated on the Products & Services page:

  • More readable with bigger fonts (so you don’t have to squint)
  • More pictures (so you don’t have to read so much) (but still loads fast)
  • Clearer linkage to the handy Products A-Z list
  • “Let Us Help” available even as you scroll
  • Better information on financing options (which you really should check out)
  • “Responsive” so it works nicely on smartphones
  • Linked more obviously from the body of the recently updated Cisco.com home page

More to come on the background on both of these designs. Enjoy!

P.S. Smartphone views of these same pages:

Products:

JuneProductsMobile2015

Support:

JuneSupportMobile2015

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We don’t need ‘The Rock’ to save the day, we just need to ‘Get Social’!

Mobile applications and sensors are commonly used to monitor traffic, health & wellness and incidents such as road traffic accidents.  But what about the threat of catastrophic disasters such as earthquakes where the loss of life can be unprecedented?

The sun drenched, Californian city of Pasadena is known for hosting the annual Rose Bowl Football game.  It is also located near the infamous San Andreas Fault (SAF).  If you paid attention in geography class at school or if you’ve seen the latest Hollywood blockbuster, ‘San Andreas’  starring ‘The Rock’, you’ll know that this means the city is at risk from earthquakes.

The Rock

Can ‘The Rock’ save the day?

It is suspected that one day California will be hit by The ‘Big One’.  This is a hypothetical earthquake of a magnitude ~8 or greater that is expected to happen along the SAF. Such an earthquake will result in devastation to human civilization within about 50-100 miles of the fault in urban areas such as Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Francisco. No one knows when ‘The Big One’ will happen because scientists cannot predict earthquakes with any precision.  However, technology is providing them with data that in time will give Californian residents a fighting chance of survival.

Seismometers are highly sensitive instruments that detect seismic activity that occur before earthquakes strike. Unfortunately, due to their cost, the number of seismometers in California are limited.  The Southern California Seismic Network operates just 350 seismic stations and the Northern California Seismic Network has a further 412.

With the threat of ‘The Big One’ forever looming, The Caltec Institute in Pasedena embarked on a project to determine how they could provide a blanket of cheap Seismometers across the state.

Their answer? Smartphones! Yes, really!

Research conducted proved that accelerometers found in most smartphones are sensitive enough to detect large earthquakes.

Creating the ‘Community Seismic Network’ – Caltech is encouraging residents to opt-in to turn their smart phones into mobile seismometers by simply downloading an application called ‘Crowdshake’ onto their android device.

Caltec have said: “if only 1 percent of users in the area opted into the scheme, that few hundred seismometers would be augmented by several hundred thousand additional sensors giving sufficient intelligent processing”.

So how does it work?

Upon downloading the mobile application an algorithm executes in the background of the mobile device.  Algorithms are monitored and when seismic motion is detected by the accelerometer, a message is sent to a Cloud Fusion Center which includes the time, location, and estimated amplitude of the data that triggered the message.

Mobile seisomemetres

The benefit of the Community Seismic Network is huge.  A dense, city-wide seismic network could be used to detect earthquakes rapidly after they start and measure the strength of shaking accurately as it unfolds.

What would this mean to Californian residents? Well, it will enable immediate action to be taken to prevent damage, such as stopping trains and elevators, stabilizing the power grid, and deploying emergency teams.

This is an astounding example of the Internet of Everything! People, data, process and things coming together to save lives in real-time!

Whilst the application is currently a research prototype and not yet fully deployed for public use, Caltech anticipate that the capability of real-time early warning may convince users to download and install the application when it is readily available.

So quite simply, it pays to ‘get social’ especially on those days when ‘The Rock’ isn’t around the save the day!

Get-Social

 

Reference:

The Next Big One: Detecting Earthquakes and other Rare Events from Community-based Sensors.

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