Cisco’s Exponential Marketing in Action

March 5, 2010 - 9 Comments

More than a decade ago, the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto outlined the trends that were reshaping the process of marketing communications. And, as we approach the South-by-Southwest interactive festival (SXSW) here in my hometown, the great city of Austin, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how amazing it is that people are now “voting” with their tweets, blogs and communities – refusing to accept communications-as-usual.

As a result, the way we produce and propagate content that we’ve created, and how we communicate our point of view, has clearly evolved since that time.

While we still have quite a bit to learn, we have made progress. Based upon the feedback that we received, we applied more listening, interacting, learning, and adapting to our current methodology. We’ve found ways to share our “human voice” via the SP360 blog, and the various other new media channels at our disposal.

Like many forward-looking companies, we have embraced the tools of social media to aid us in reaching out to our numerous stakeholder groups within our customers, and the other “communities of interest” that we actively seek to engage in a dialogue.

That said, each year we invest a significant amount of time and effort to produce a variety of traditional textual content – and more recently, a growing abundance of multimedia content assets that span the full spectrum of possibilities that our technology opens for us.

Similar to the process used by our service provider customers, we publish that content on our corporate Web site and use a variety of both online and off-line channels to let people know that it’s available.

The enclosed video describes our evolving definition of an adaptive “Exponential Marketing” method that we apply to the propagation-cycle – it’s Content x Syndication + Community = Nth Degree.  (And no, that cool British accent on the video is unfortunately not mine…as a marketer, I just figured you’d like that better than my Texas twang… Wink)

I had some great feedback on this topic earlier this week when I spoke at the Institute for the Study of Business Markets Winter Conference in Houston and would love to hear your thoughts.  What techniques do  you and your company use to help ensure that the content you produce reaches its intended user?  And how do you incorporate feedback into your process, to ensure that the content you produce meets the needs of your users.

Look forward to hearing your views.

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  1. Philip, we have published numerous IPv6 related resources here, we have contributed several editorials on this topic (at the TelecomTV site). In addition, we’ve produced both podcast and video content to help tell the story about the many benefits for service providers and their end-user customers.

  2. Doug,Thanks for taking the time to respond in detail.With respect to ‘the conversation’, it would be great to see Cisco help grow the much needed dialogue about IPv6. There’s so many misconceptions out there. I’ve been working with this issue for a few years now, and I’m involved with some upcoming v6 related initiatives in the UK, so I’ll be sure to get back in touch with you in June.All the best.

  3. Thanks for this insight into Cisco’s leadership. It’s great to see some advocacy for social media in the B2B world.The VNI example is super, but it just stops short of closing the loop imho. The results are stated simply as extending our reach””, but it should relate the results back up to the intended business outcomes that informed the original objectives for the campaign. Did it achieve influence and engagement not just “”reach””. Were stakeholder’s actions or expressed thoughts affected?The very first sentence from the voiceover struck me as incongruous, describing the purpose here as “”to broadly disseminate information by applying exponential marketing principles that enable our end customers to find and consume the content Cisco produces?””. This appeared to me to conflict with the later assertion that you’re not trying to shout, it’s not monologue, but rather that you’re looking to stimulate dialogue. Stakeholders are no longer passive consumers ever so thankful for such wise content to be made available to them. They want to find the conversations and genuinely exciting opportunities to engage.And lastly, being a Chartered Engineer and numbers man by training, I hate the use of the word “”exponential””, but that’s something that’s unlikely to rub most marketers up the wrong way! :-)Thanks for sharing. From my experience of the B2B enterprise tech world, Cisco definitely appears to be walking the walk rather than just talking the talk. In fact, if Cisco is interested in the Influence Scorecard management approach encompassing the ERP’ing of social Web analytics I’d be delighted to chat with you.Best wishes.”

  4. Thanks for the insight into the marketing of the Cisco group. Social media channels are tools to communicate with the customer.

  5. Philip, you make a good point about the ultimate objective should be a measurable business outcome. Clearly, that closed-loop has proven to be easier said than done. Assessing meaningful influence and engagement impact is difficult, since it tends to occur over an extended period of time.I think everyone is in agreement, we all want to move beyond the legacy leap-of-faith investment in marketing activities that have questionable results. Perhaps the solution is to survey our stakeholder clusters periodically and ask them to rate our efforts to engage them online.Point taken, regarding the passive consumer”” myth — we concur. In fact, Cisco was an early pioneer of hosting online forums for our technical stakeholders, long before it was called a social media platform. We also seek out and actively participate in debates hosted by others.In the predominantly B2B environment of telecom services the popular definition of “”social media”” can be somewhat puzzling to our internal Cisco stakeholders. In contrast, we’ve found that exponential marketing better characterizes the mutual benefit gained from sharing RSS feeds with bloggers who may want to follow our evolving point of view and eventually engage us in a dialogue.Actually, it’s exactly the way that you’ve engaged us here. I thank you, for your thoughtful commentary.Doug”

  6. Thanks for sharing your perspective, David. I’ve actually applied many of the actionable insights that you’ve shared in your books and blog posts.We learned early on in our experimentation that the best way to identify all the stakeholder segments is to start with topical keyword monitoring activities. That online listening process has enabled us to better understand the content interests or needs of each stakeholder cluster.Also, the really fun part of collaborating on some projects with our service provider customers is we’ve uncovered new opportunities together. Again, it’s a process of ongoing discovery.

  7. Thank you for sharing! This is a great example of how we are using social media channels as a tool to promote & to extend to a larger audience.

  8. I can only comment from the readers’s standpoint.Most major news websites have different blogs for lighter moment, I think that is one way to get noticed for a small company.One example of a blog I love very much is the crime blog in LATimes.

  9. What I like about the concepts in this video is the understanding that Cisco has at least three critical stakeholders 1) end customers 2) The distribution channel partners and 3) bloggers, analysts, and media that write about what you do. Most companies focus on one one stakeholder which leads to behavior like assuming that the Gartner Analysts are the only people whose opinions matter or spending too much time working on things of value to end-customers.Congrats on your efforts to make your social media engagement holistic within your important communities.