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Along with marketing workshops, Cisco also hosts an ongoing series of virtual events called Velocity On Air that are open to all Cisco partners. Partners are more motivated now than ever to get their social media and Web marketing strategies whole, Jobbins insisted.
"You have to have a clear set of objectives, and a certain target audience you want to reach and awareness you want to create to move someone along the buying cycle," she said. "A lot of them have just been in the mode of, let's get that page up, let's participate. Now that everyone is more comfortable with participating, they have to think more strategically about how to use that interaction to move customers from one stage to the next."
Thanks to analytics tools applied to social and digital media, a lot of that interaction is much easier to track now than it used to be, she said.
"It's a hell of a lot more measurable," Jobbins said. "The beauty of the social and digital age is that marketers can really prove their contribution."
Krissy Kelley, vice president of marketing for Force 3, a Cisco Gold partner based in Crofton, Md., said Force 3 embraced a lot of the programs Cisco rolled out at prior Partner Velocity events, and also a lot of the advice it's received from Cisco marketers.
"We've taken advantage of every single one of them, especially video, which Cisco made loud and clear you need to be using as a key marketing medium," she said. "It can be hard as a smaller partner or a midsize partner to jump out, so they have had a huge impact on our ability to do these things, particularly be social."
Kelley said Force 3 not only strengthened its use of various social networking platforms, but also started using analytics and a marketing automation tool to track traffic via those platforms to its Web site and how that traffic was translating into inbound sales inquiries.
Facebook, Kelley said, is now in Force 3's top three sources of referred traffic, whereas none of the social networks appeared in its top 10 as recently as a few years ago. Force 3 also tracks metrics such as the time users spend on Force 3's website -- a number that increased by 50 percent in terms of how long users were looking through the site, Kelley said, adding that Force 3 has changed its website and where it puts certain items based on analysis of how many minutes users spent on certain pages.
Kelley admitted that marketing ROI -- especially via social networks -- is a slippery concept, and she'll be participating in a Partner Velocity track covering exactly that subject. From Cisco, she's seeking more marketing tools specific to federal government customers, the area in which Force 3 specializes, and also awaiting Cisco's promised cloud-centric marketing tools.
"We're champing at the bit for that one," she said. "I think we've reached the point where cloud is one of those things you can't not be a part of, you have to have some type of offering."
Jobbins and her team haven't missed a beat since Cisco's partner marketing organization changes hands, Kelley added.
"I was excited to see that Velocity was going to continue, and we weren't sure about that with Luanne's departure because that was part of her legacy there," she said. "All this emphasis on [partner] marketing is a differentiator for Cisco, and they provide an enormous amount of education here that you don't see from other manufacturers."
As successful as the Velocity shows have been, Jobbins added that it may be the last one. No, the show itself isn't going away -- quite the opposite -- but Jobbins said she thinks it's time for a name change.
"We're definitely changing the name next year," she said. "I'm not too pleased with it because for all this marketing capability, it doesn't really mean anything. We also have a segment of our Partner Led model that is called Velocity, and covers [sales] that are more transactionally oriented. So we're in the process of looking at the branding."