How To Be the Thought Leader Your Customers Are Looking For

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Digital marketing is a brave new world. Chad Bockert, VP, World Wide Technology kicks off Cisco's Partner Guest Blog series sharing their unique approach to winning with customers.

To understand how we approach marketing, it helps to first make one thing clear: we don't see it as marketing.

Now let me explain what I mean by that. Because the fact is we do have a marketing team. And its role here at WWT has grown a lot in the last few years. I'd take that a step further and say marketing now plays an integral role in how we communicate to our customers and partners. I'd take that yet another step further and say marketing now plays an integral role in the evolution and success of this company.

The digital marketing techniques we're using are beyond anything that was possible even five years ago.

But we don't see it as marketing—and that's important. No one wants to be marketed to.  So we don't want to be out there giving people what they don't want.  But what they do want is to learn.  Our customers spend so much time online doing research.  They're looking for information.  They're looking for answers.  They want to see how problems that matter to them can be solved.

And it turns out, we have that information. Our engineers are generating those answers every day.

Now, it took a while for us to realize what an opportunity that presented.  If you go back a few years, no one was thinking that — when our engineers were collaborating in our labs, brainstorming some thorny issue — that experience was actually generating "content" that could be spun up into videos or blogs or tweets that would be really interesting and valuable to our customers.

But the world's changed.

It's a different kind of relationship that we're looking to build with customers.  Given all the trends in our industry—to digitization and services and lifecycle management—being the thought leader that people turn to for answers is more valuable than ever before.  It's the gold standard. It's what WWT wants to be for its customers: the trusted advisor they count on to solve the problems they care about.

So over the last few years, we made some changes—changes in how we relate to our customers and also, necessarily, how we think about marketing. It's been a good journey for us. Click here for a quick glimpse of that journey.

Today when we do marketing, what we're really doing is building a relationship with our customers.

And it's the same relationship that sales is building and that engineering is building.  We, as a company, are putting ourselves out there as the problem-solver that our customers are looking for.  Give them the answers they need. Help them clarify their goals and their technology strategy for getting there.

For us, that's what digital marketing is all about. 

It's a chance for us to get online and get information to our customers that they care about—whether it's a video or a webinar or a blog post, or we're showing up in their Twitter feed, or they're looking at us on YouTube. These are all elements of our digital marketing practice that we've been building up in recent years—a lot of it with help and encouragement from Cisco.

Over time, we're getting better at it and getting smarter. We can be much more targeted now, giving particular customers exactly the information or content they're going to be interested in.  And the measure of its value is not, "Does it sell what we're trying to sell?" but "Does it answer the questions our customers care about?"

When we started down this road, there were people in the sales team who were skeptical.

They didn't see the value. We had to prove it to them. But, as buying habits have changed, so has their skepticism. They now see digital marketing complementing and reinforcing their own efforts. They see their customers being targeted successfully with exactly the information they want. They see new customers reaching out to us because of content they discovered online.  And the end result of all that is we do sell more.  We sell more because we're giving value to our customers up and down the line, from the tweet and the blog post to the comprehensive technology solution.

So today at WWT, whether we're engineering or sales or marketing, we're all adding value. And because of that value, our customers keep coming back to us—and that's how we continue to grow and succeed.

Additional Cisco Resources:

Digital Transformation Solutions

Partner with Cisco

Chad Bockert is Vice President Business Development & Marketing, World Wide Technology

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