Many significant events have been etched in the walls of history on the same date as this posting, May 29th. Who can forget the 53rdNational Spelling Bee when Jacques Bailly won by correctly spelling elucubrate…or Australian Paul McManus barefoot water skiing for 1:30:19? As fascinating as some of these events were, I’d like to pay homage to the first successful summiteers of Mount Everest in 1953: Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

These unflappable pioneers overcame every unimaginable obstacle Mother Nature & Everest threw at them on their journey by relying on each other as partners to solve each problem they encountered as they triumphantly ascended the 8,850 meter beast that is Everest.

Sir Edmund Hillary plainly articulated how each of us can achieve greatness in our own way:

 “You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things…to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.”

Marketers constantly face challenges – not the physical, life-threatening challenges Norgay & Hillary faced on their summit – but challenges nonetheless like the myriad of issues customers face, & the rapid pace of innovation that can complicate finding the proper solution(s).

Much like the mountaineering duo had to navigate changing conditions on their expedition, we have to be adept at recognizing the constantly evolving market that is digital transformation. And like these successful pioneers, we need to have not only a strategic plan in place but also some core principles that we operate within – while still reserving the right to call occasional, effective audibles in response to changing environments.

A couple of those core principles for marketers today are honesty and transparency with our customers.

By being honest with our customers and communicating openly on issues that are front of mind for them, Cisco and our Partners will continue to be trusted advisors.

This reminds me of the simple, yet vital message from the author of They Ask, You Answer – Marcus Sheridan (aka “The Pool Guy”).

The founder and president of The Sales Lion has been dubbed a “web marketing guru” by the New York Times due to his honest use of content marketing to save his company, River Pools & Spas, from bankruptcy at the height of the 2008 economic crisis. (See his entire presentation from Cisco’s Marketing Velocity here.)

His philosophy is simple: Customers must be able to trust you. And an easy way to build that trust is to answer their questions. Further, he makes the point that all customers have the same types of questions – no matter what the industry is:

  1. How much is it?
  2. What are the negatives with it?
  3. How does it compare to what I am also considering?
  4. What are buyers of the service or product saying about it?
  5. What is the best?

Simple enough, but sometimes customer questions lead to uncomfortable conversations.  However, these conversations help us earn and keep customer trust. Knowing key questions up front helps us provide appropriate answers, thus developing much needed trust with our customers.

Point is – whether you’re an “ordinary chap” from New Zealand or a “Pool Guy” from Virginia – we are all able to accomplish extraordinary things. And sometimes it’s not so complicated either.  Sometimes it just takes a plan, some core principles and the courage to go out and execute.



Michael Hopfinger

Director of Marketing

Architecture and Partner Marketing - Americas