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It’s time to get more personal, Cisco says

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Marketing leader Mark Phibbs says the tech giant has shifted its focus from events to digital-led activities.

How does a worldwide leader in technology evolve into a global marketing machine?

Mark Phibbs, Cisco’s Vice President of Marketing APJ, wants his company to become a leading marketing organisation. “The company realises that it needs to transform, but to do so we need to go beyond our product,” he told delegates at the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum event in Sydney.

Phibbs, who held senior roles at Adobe, Microsoft and IBM before joining Cisco in August 2017, said the change in emphasis was to improve customer experience and target personalisation. “To do this, the company will have to go beyond its previous models of marketing,” he said. “The transition hasn’t been easy.”

In his presentation, Phibbs explained that Cisco was now putting greater emphasis on content marketing and social media engagement. He said: “57 per cent of consideration is made online before anyone speaks to a salesperson, so if we’re not doing a good job at being where and when people want to see the value proposition of Cisco, we’re missing out.

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Cisco’s Vice President of Marketing APJ Mark Phibbs

“The fact is we’re all digital marketers these days. It’s no longer about digital marketing – it’s about marketing in a digital world.”

How can marketers prove investing in digital is more effective than spending most of their B2B budgets on other activities? “Even if you have access to the latest and greatest technology, you need to be able to prove that the investment into digital is worthwhile,” he said.

To make room in the budget for new marketing activities, Phibbs said Cisco has had to sacrifice some activities, such as events. “Cisco plans to increase the budget for digital activities from 20 per cent to an estimated 50 per cent by next year.”

Data tracking and insights are important because they provide irrefutable evidence of what’s working. “Without insights and analytics, you won’t be able to move forward,” Phibbs said. “You can’t give a personalised experience if you’re not analysing data in an efficient way.”

Referencing Thomas Barta and Patrick Barwise’s book The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader, Phibbs said it was crucial Cisco found the “value zone” – the point where customer and company needs overlap. To ensure these needs are being met efficiently, Phibbs has set up a data and analytics team within Cisco, which takes up about 5 per cent of his marketing staff.

“When I started we weren’t very structured from a digital marketing point of view,” he said. “We had five separate flavours of digital in APJ, all doing their own thing – not really optimised.”

The first thing he did was appoint a head of digital within the team and had everyone in each country report to that one person. “You can’t have multiple flavours of digital; you need to standardise.”

Since standardising the digital approach, “it has given the marketing department more credibility and allowed us to do more,” he said. “It’s starting to pay some nice returns for us.”

B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC events will be held in Sydney, Singapore and Melbourne in 2019. See here for more information. 

Further reading: Cisco’s chief change officer

Photo: Mike Kononov on Unsplash

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