Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cisco wants channel partners to Engage with digital marketing

For several years now, former Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst Tiffani Bova cautioned that customers, not technology, are the most disruptive aspect of business today. More than a year ago, in an interview with SearchITChannel, Bova said, “No longer are technology providers in control of the buyer’s journey, which means neither is the indirect channel.” This shifts the way in which the channel sells, communicates and engages, with the customer becoming the new “competitive battleground,” she added.  With the recently announced Cisco Engage digital marketing services, Cisco is striving to get partners to become digital marketing warriors, with the goal of realizing increased revenue. The intent of Engage is centered around helping partners deliver relevant content to customers in the way they want to consume it and when they want to consume it, according to Michelle Chiantera, senior director of partner marketing at Cisco. “We know that customers make a lot of decisions and they’re doing a lot of self diagnosis in digital social forums and this is extremely influential to their purchases,” she said. In stark contrast, 90% of the marketing activities that Cisco does on behalf of partners or with partners use traditional marketing methods such as events and telemarketing, for example. While those tactics may be comfortable for partners — if they ever were comfortable with marketing — they reflect the way customers historically purchased product; new consumption models and new ways of buying technology are making traditional marketing methods obsoleteShannon Mullen, marketing program manager at Datalink, a Cisco Gold certified partner, was attending her second Cisco Marketing Velocity to learn what she can about new tools and directions in marketing, get reenergized and to ultimately share what she’s learned with work colleagues.
But even she admitted that there’s often a gap between what she takes away from events like Marketing Velocity and the marketing that Datalink implements in practice — or, in some cases, doing things the way they’ve always been done.Now, Cisco isn’t going to start telling partners what they can and can’t do when it comes to marketing, but they have every intention of trying to change minds and the marketing methods used by partners. “We’re going to do this by introducing them to digital services and give them the opportunity to test it and see value and to make shifts their marketing strategy,” Chiantera said.
And, partners won’t be going it alone. Cisco will make digital experts available to help partners on their journey.
Today, there are four pillars to Engage: Marketing Velocity, Partner Marketing Central, digital demand generation services and, digital marketing expert. Overtime, Cisco will add additional services to Engage.

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