Dear Cisco

Cisco is one of the world’s biggest brands. In 2010 it was 14th in the world ranking with a value of $23.2 billion, an increase of 5% over the previous year. Impressive or what! To put it in perspective, that’s bigger than BMW, bigger than Apple, bigger even than Pepsi Cola. They are outranked only by the likes of IBM, Microsoft, Google, McDonalds, Disney and, of course, the world’s number one brand Coca Cola which, in 2010 had a staggering brand value of $70.4 billion.

Why, I can hear you say, are you drifting from your usual blog subject? It’s because of these Tweets:

 Cisco tweets

I’ve been following @ciscosp360 for a short while, they followed me and every now and again they say something really interesting but on Wednesday night they started broadcasting and I pointed out to them that, well, it’s not necessarily the best way to engage. Clearly I hit a nerve – oops! I feel I owe them an explanation.

I have to admit that I’m probably the last person in the world to advise somebody, never mind a worldwide brand, on their marketing strategy but I perceive that there is some value in this relationship for me and others like me; face it, Cisco “is” the Internet. So what would I like from this engagement with Cisco? Well, I would like them to take an interest in what I’m doing; the projects I’m working on and the groups that I’m working with. What value is that for Cisco? These are the groups whose lives will potentially be empowered and enriched by access to knowledge and information that Cisco’s products will enable. Then there’s horizon scanning; how will we work with people in deprived inner city areas? How will we facilitate connectivity in remote rural areas? What does the future look like from the consumer perspective? None of these dialogues is predicated on the release of the Linksys E3000 and its variants and, dare I say it, none of them are looking for a Cisco academy.

What does this look like from the Cisco end? Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Cisco Systems Inc  Marilyn Mersereau has an impressive CV as well; 25 years working for the likes of IBM, Coca Cola and Burger King International and has won three Gold Effie Awards for Advertising and Campaign Effectiveness. Let’s not even pretend that I’m trying to tell this lady how to do her job! Ms Mersereau gives a very interesting interview for Interbrand where she says: “Customers today value relationships, and the credibility that comes from these relationships, whether they are on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or actively involved in their community”. I have to say, that works for me.

There are a few people whom I follow on Social Media whom I would imagine would have an interest in the details of Cisco’s core switches or premise infrastructure but I can’t say that there are that many. So it’s clearly not that group of people that Cisco can by trying to engage in this relationship. My guess is that it’s the activists, the evangelists, the thinkers, the strategists and the movers and the shakers.

I’ll leave the last word to three times Gold Effie winner Marilyn Mersereau: “As marketers, it is our job to ensure that we openly and candidly develop relationships with our customers. Be it through social action communities, engaging CSR programs, or through more mainstream marketing vehicles. It is important we show our message is relevant, genuine and applicable in every pocket of life.”

So come on @CiscoSP360 let’s be friends and have some interesting conversations.


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