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Content Marketing: It’s Getting Personal!

“Can you send me a brochure?” said nobody in 2015.

Static, print-driven content marketing is in its death throes. It is stiff, passive, one-dimensional.  It is literally and figuratively flat.  Taking its place is a rich crop of highly innovative, highly personalised content marketing strategies and tactics. What’s driving this content marketing evolution?  The buyer, of course.

The customer journey has changed in massive ways.

It is more digital, more research-driven, and more social than ever. Buyers are still using content to inform their digitally driven purchasing decisions, but it’s not the content of yesterday. As Jeremy Bevan, Vice President of Marketing for Cisco’s EMEAR region, explains in a recent blog post on content marketing: “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.”

Marketers are cutting through the content clutter.

To help buyers through the journey – and to spark conversations along the way –marketers are developing new forms of content marketing that are dynamic and personalised. They’re highly visual. They’re fun and humorous. What’s more, many of them are not even created solely by the marketing organisation.

What’s hot in content marketing?

Let’s take a look at the new kids on the content block…

1. User generated content (UGC)

UGC is content that’s created by consumers or end users and is publically available to others consumers and end users.  It can take many forms – from photos and videos to reviews and forum posts.  A recent study by Ipsos MediaCT found that millennials are spending 30 percent of their media time engaging with UGC.  The study also found that this type of content is 50 percent more trusted and 35 percent more memorable than other types of media.

Two great examples of UGC are Cisco’s “Office of Life” and “Wish You Were Here” campaigns. Office of Life (#officeoflife) features people’s takes on weird and wonderful places to work outside of the office.

office of life

Wish You Were Here (#WYWH2015) is driven by salespeople who are competing for a trip to the Seychelles. Both campaigns harness the immense power of users to create original content to fuel marketing campaigns.


UGC is a great option for adding an element of fun to your content marketing. Don’t underestimate the power of fun: if it gets your customer’s attention, they’re more likely to engage with your company.

2. Employee-shared content

In my blog on employee advocacy (Employee Advocacy: Marketing Engine of the Future?) I mentioned that employees’ social posts generate 8X more engagement than posts from their employer.  That’s because people are increasingly influenced by other people, not by corporations.  So put your employees front and centre and let them shine!

Cisco has done just that in its “I Chose Cisco” campaign (#ichosecisco) which features photos and videos from Cisco employees explaining why Cisco is a great place to work.

I chose Cisco

The campaign enables recruiting to reach its audience on a personal level. Cisco is a B2B company but in the end, we’re really a human to human (H2H) company made up of people who are talking to other people.

3. Hyper local content

In the old world, content was created at the corporate marketing level and pushed to the regions to translate and distribute. Today, locally created content is rising in importance.  Why? People living and working in a particular geography have the deepest insight into the wants and needs of others in the geography.

Case in point:  A series of videos produced by Cisco’s UK and Ireland marketing team (@ciscoUKI) that were inspired by the Rugby World Cup.  These videos were a huge hit because they capitalized on a local event that was highly relevant to people in the region.

Naked Man

Hyperlocal content works particularly well on social and mobile platforms.  But keep in mind that it can be tricky to create.  You’ll still need guidance from corporate marketing on messaging and creative frameworks. You’ll also need a local team that has the right combination of subject matter expertise, writing skills, and publishing experience.  But if you can get it right you’ll raise the content marketing roof in terms of engagement, relevance, and fun.

4. Content with personality

All the forms of content I mention above share a common thread:  they have personality.  However, savvy marketers are pushing the envelope even further by using content marketing techniques that speak personally to their buyers.  Check out this exchange between LauraEllen, Kit Kat, and Oreo.

Oreo and kit kat

What would you rather see?  An advertisement for Kit Kats and Oreos?  Or a fun, real-time conversation among these companies and one of their biggest fans?  Me too.

Knowing what makes your audience tick is critical to developing content that they respond to. This is true no matter what your business or industry – whether you’re B2B or B2C, selling products or services, supply chain software or spaghetti sauce.  Case in point:  A blog post from SnapApp, “6 Boring Companies Making Amazing Content,” showcases content marketing campaigns from less-than-sexy companies like McKinsey and General Electric.  If they can do it, so can you.

So it’s time to step up. Give consumers and employees a voice. Get out of the traditional marketing comfort zone. I know it feels risky, but the pay-off is huge. If you demonstrate that you “get” your buyers, and enable them to interact with you in real-time ways you are one step closer to having long-time loyal customers.

Are you using more personalised content marketing approaches to make a bigger impact with your audiences?  I’d love to hear your stories!

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#CiscoChat Recap: The Power of Connected Machines

Through a myriad of connections, the Internet of Everything has caused a digital disruption, forcing entire industries to evolve their business models in order to remain competitive and deliver optimized services. Both retail and higher education are prime examples. But, it’s the Internet of Things, comprised of millions of Internet-connected devices (estimated to be 50 billion by 2020), that’s having the largest impact on the manufacturing industry.

In a previous blog, we outlined how digital disruption is already happening across manufacturing and its sister industries like oil and gas. And while many of the operational changes and benefits happening are encouraging for the industry’s future, it’s also worth noting that as many as 40 percent of industry leaders will not adapt quickly enough, risking their survival in the industry. With so much at stake – Cisco estimates the Internet of Things will generate $8 trillion in Value at Stake through 2022 – it was the perfect time to host a #CiscoChat around “IoT-ready” machinery and connected factories.

Joined by members of the @CiscoMFG team and Brian Papke, the president of Mazak Corporation, we engaged in discussions on harnessing the power of connected machines, the opportunities being created and much more. Take a look at a few highlights below.

We know that manufactures are embracing digitization, but first, we wanted to gauge opinions of why they were doing so.


As a leader within the machine tool manufacturing segment, the team at Mazak Corporation quickly shared their thoughts.


The opportunities to drive business outcomes and enable more rapid and efficient manufacturing strategy were touted as well.

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And a handy chart from one participant Read More »

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Cisco Partner Weekly Rewind – November 20, 2015

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Each week, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco Partner Ecosystem news and stories, as well as point you to important, Cisco-related partner content you may have missed along the way. Here’s what you might have missed this week:

Off the Top

CEO Robbins Has Cisco On The Fast Track, And Partners Are Ready, Set, Go

There has been no shortage of major moves since Chuck Robbins took over the helm at Cisco less than 4 months ago. He is moving Cisco at an unprecedented pace.

And while here at Cisco we see the strategy as moving quickly towards growth and adjusting to fast-moving markets, it’s always best – at least in my opinion – to hear what our partners have to say.

Luckily, CRN’s Mark Haranas checked in with Cisco partners this week for their reaction to the CEO’s moves.  I encourage you to read his excellent article for what our partners think.

Cisco ACI Awarded InfoWorld Editor’s Choice

InfoWorld, a top IT publication, recognized Cisco’s powerful SDN solution, ACI, with the Editor’s Choice award based on an impressive overall review score of 9.6 out of 10.

An excerpt from the review:

“Cisco ACI is a powerful solution that’s designed for large-scale deployments. It represents a significant step away from traditional networking in both design and scale, and a significant step forward in managing Cisco networks through an open and modern API control structure.”

Our own Rick Snyder provided a snapshot on why this is both an important and impressive recognition. Be sure to read his thoughts on the partner blog.

Need to Reach More Customers? Tell Your Story through Social!

Bryan Sherlock is a regular contributor to the partner blog and is a heavy advocate for our partners. His specialty? Providing marketing enablement best practices and tips to help you grow your business and brand.

This week he says tell your story through social media to reach more customers.  I have to agree wholeheartedly.

Take a Breather: Give Yourself a Mental Break for Optimal Productivity

Karin Surber is back this month providing partners excellent tips in and around sales. This week’s topic was one of my favorites. Why you say?

According to Karin and the research she has done, we should all be taking more naps, vacations, and breaks to reach optimal productivity and maintain mental performance. That’s what I’m saying!

So, take a break and read her insightful post. Read More »

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#CiscoChat Recap: No More Bankers’ Hours

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How often do you bank? ?

For me, it’s a few times a week, but more frequently when I have a few bills to pay. Today, digital technologies makes checking balances, transferring money and even depositing checks an “anytime, anywhere” process using apps and mobile devices. Banks and other financial institutions that plan to stay ahead of the digital disruption must find innovative ways to transform and differentiate themselves. Otherwise, they may end up a part of the estimated four out of today’s top 10 financial services giants that could be displaced by digital disruption in the next five years or as Chris Skinner predicts, ‘see all their margin on traditional products erode in the next decade’.

During our latest #CiscoChat, banking futurist Chris Skinner (@Chris_Skinner), chairman of Europe’s Financial Services Club, joined @CiscoFSI for a live and fun discussion on how banks can make money, when everything is ‘free’. When transactions are table stakes.

If you missed the chat, the full recap is here. Below, I summarized a few of the highlights and insights. Read More »

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No More Bankers’ Hours: Join the Live Chat

“Bankers’ hours” started disappearing with the advent of ATMs in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, online and mobile access has made the transactional side of banking a 24/7, anytime, any place proposition. And that’s just the beginning. Innovative financial institutions and startups are also bringing disruptive new business models to deliver higher value banking interactions, such as financial advice and wealth management. The drive to the branch has been replaced by the drive to digital.

How can financial institutions stay ahead of this wave of disruption? I hope you’ll join me @pdjameson on the upcoming #CiscoChat to tackle that question next Tuesday, November 3rd at 1:00 PM EST / 10:00 AM PST. Together, we’ll consider such questions as:

  • In an age of commoditized transactions, how can banks differentiate themselves?
  • Where should banks focus as they seek to evolve their current business models?
  • What kinds of on-demand services do customers want?
  • What’s the key to winning wallet share of the digital customer?

Read More »

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