Cisco Systems senior vice president and CMO Karen Walker looks forward to adding behaviour analytics to the company's marketing strategy.
Cisco Systems senior vice president and CMO Karen Walker looks forward to adding behaviour analytics to the company's marketing strategy.

Published: November 14th, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO – Cisco Systems Inc. wants to switch up its marketing game and is embarking on a digital-first strategy that will add behaviour analytics to its lead generation strategy, its CMO says.

According to Cisco CMO Karen Walker, most business buyers are making their buying decisions online, with at least 67 per cent of buyers following a “digital” buying process.

“Customers are now a step ahead of the call centre,” she says. “They are self-educated and are telling you what they want or are interested in.”

In the past year, the San Jose, Calif.-based networking and telecommunications vendor delivered approximately $6.6 billion in the pipeline for partners using the leads it created, she says. But going forward, those leads need to step up their game.

Walker’s team plans to put more behaviour analytics-based channel marketing programs in place to provide its partner base with more valuable – what she calls BANT – leads. She believes this effort will help partners make faster and more accurate business decisions.

What are BANT leads?

BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline. With a BANT lead a potential customer has indicated they have Budget available, the Authority to make a decision or is the right decision maker in the sales process, Need (his or her company has an IT problem and are in need of a solution you are proposing) and the “T” is for time frame or the potential customer has a time frame in place for solving their problem and are ready to making a purchasing decision.

Cisco’s marketing push will work to provide channel partners with, as Walker describes it, customer insights in a deep data drive. For example, Walker’s team wants to inform channel partners on a potential customer’s share of their company’s wallet and propensity to buy, and help them better target certain market segments. She believes with this data, channel partners can properly invest in the Cisco technology solutions necessary for success.

“We’ll have data around the individual with names, demographics and personal interests,” she says. “As an example, we found out security buyers got a thing for Halloween and I think it’s that fine line between good and evil when it comes to security.”

“Listen, we are not going to launch a zombie campaign, but all joking aside we plan on delivering a rich set of data about human beings inside the security spend and we are going to do it digitally,” Walker adds.

Walker, who is responsible for Cisco’s global marketing and corporate communications, is specific when it comes to her strategy for channel partners. The focus is on security, and her marketing drive will put a lot of emphasis on the fact that Cisco is serious about security.

“Security is connected to networking so we are bringing security into Cisco’s main brand,” she says.

From day one channel partners should look for Cisco supplying solution providers with content and other marketing assets such as videos, banners and social media to enable them to tell their own story. And according to Walker, this is a first for the networking giant.

Demand generation will be another part of Walker’s all-digital marketing strategy. Cisco will be doing demand generation in two ways: marketing assets will help to drive a solution provider’s own marketing campaigns and secondly Cisco is boosting investment in its demand generation engine by 25 per cent. Cisco is also going to provide the channel with access to Cisco digital marketing agencies for things such as paid search campaigns and Web design.

“We want to both educate and teach marketing to the channel. It’s like teaching them how to fish instead of just giving it to them,” Walker says.

Besides digital, the marketing push will also be highly mobile. Look for Cisco to build local versions of its Web site Cisco.com in bite size portions.

“We have to completely redesign our content for digital and mobile consumption,” she says.

Work still needs to be done in Cisco’s new digital marketing journey. Walker tells ITBusiness.ca the goal is to be completely digital in its go-to market strategy, but have that intertwined with sales.

“We will play a much higher value role now because the customer will already know based on their online knowledge,” she says.

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