Cloud, Mobile, Video Among Hot Topics For Cisco Marketing Confab

A sluggish economy is no time to put the brakes on good marketing -- indeed, it's the differentiated solution providers that win the most business when times are tight. That's one of the key messages for this year's Cisco Partner Velocity conference, which runs Dec. 7-9 in Barcelona, Spain and will focus on stronger partner marketing using everything from video and mobile platforms to social networking.

An invitation-only invent, it's the fourth installment of Velocity since its 2007 launch, and will welcome about 200 Cisco solution providers from around the world. Unique to the event, according to Cisco, is that it focuses on advanced, aggressive business and marketing education using outside marketing professionals, not Cisco executives with product and technology pitches.

Luanne Tierney, vice president of worldwide partner marketing at Cisco and the event's host, said that many solution providers are more focused on marketing than ever before, especially as a business differentiator and especially as customer spending picks up coming out of the recession.

"I've seen this trend continue to grow even during the downturn," said Tierney in an interview with CRN this week. "Marketing is changing just as much as technology is changing, and there are all of these tools and approaches that aren't costly, yet require some thinking and some resources."

Sponsored post

While many partners have made the leap to marketing themselves using video, mobile platforms and social media, fewer have figured out how to use those tools as strategically as they could, Tierney suggested.

"We see a lot of them experimenting with video, but you have to have an aggressive, consistent plan around video," she said. "The key is consistency, and using it in different ways. Maybe it's a customer success story. Maybe it's a hiring technique. We're getting them to think about that in a broader, more integrated plan, and use it internally and externally. In general, it's getting them to be a little bit more disciplined about harnessing that power."

One of this year's most anticipated sessions will be a seminar on how to market for cloud computing, and specifically, how to market cloud services and cloud enablement without playing into the tendency to hype "cloud" as a catch-all marketing term.

"There is a lot of noise, but it's all generic," Tierney said. "Where are the marketing best practices around the cloud? There's a lot of talk around it, but is there a lot of hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves marketing [training] on how to talk about the cloud? What's not being delivered is how to market your cloud offerings. I want to help marketers in our partner companies message the cloud in the right way to drive opportunities for their business."

One big takeaway from the session, she said, will be about how to articulate a cloud message in all areas of Cisco business where it might apply.

"It's not purely a managed services provider opportunity," Tierney said. "We're trying to describe the opportunities and articulate the cloud around all of the architectures."

Next: Sessions Rundown

Joining Cisco and its partners will be speakers such as Alex Dunsdon, who specializes in mobile marketing, and other speakers focused on social media strategies and how they address customer relationship management (CRM). Tracking customers' habits -- especially as they relate to social networking mentions -- has been a big focus at Cisco as of late.

Other speakers include Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How; leadership training specialist Scott McKain; and customer relationship expert Joseph Jaffe, who will focus on helping VARs drive more value out of existing customers.

Bob Olwig, vice president of corporate business development for World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner, described the Partner Velocity conferences as "top notch" and useful to solution providers because they offer practical and actionable information.

"I'm particularly looking forward to the sessions on Web 2.0 marketing and how partners can maximize the marketing opportunity related to cloud computing," said Olwig, who has attended all of the previous Partner Velocity events.

Tierney said her team has continued to fine-tune the event as well as add to Cisco's ongoing "virtual velocity" series, which gets about 600 views a month online. Marketing will become that much more important as technology priorities and business needs continue to change, she argued.

"Partners who market more aggressively in downturns end up gaining much more after the downturns," Tierney said. "They want to take advantage of that."