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Keeping up with the little guy

- September 8, 2017 9:06 am

Typically, tech companies set their sights high, going after the biggest companies they can, hoping to net the biggest fish out there, and sign up as many employee subscriptions as possible. That’s how tech companies grew: they got in with the on-site IT staff at major companies and enjoyed regular upgrades and renewed subscriptions.

But the world isn’t like that anymore. There are fewer big corporations and more competition. This is especially true in Canada, where the majority of businesses have fewer than 250 seats (many have fewer than 50). So, while we might have all built our businesses on the backs of giant companies, this new SMB market opens up a host of opportunities for the savvy marketer.

Take IT departments: they’re shrinking rapidly if not vanishing entirely.  In fact, in most smaller businesses they never existed to begin with. With headcounts under 50, many smaller business owners rely on consultants and contractors to do the heavy lifting with their networks and security.

So if we can’t rely on IT teams to be our advocates, what can we do? It’s time to get creative – and that’s just we’ve done in the Cisco marketing department.

We’re now speaking directly to lines of business, to business owners and their operational teams. We’re speaking to them in their language, in terms of solutions and not products. And we’re finding ways to connect with our customers – no matter their size – in whole new ways.

It’s actually a new market for us at Cisco, so we’re approaching it a little differently. We used to think in terms of hardware and specialized products. Now, though, we’re transforming those products into solutions and offering our customers bundles that help them go from zero to hero quickly. We’re finding new ways to package our products with subscriptions and services, so the customers don’t have to do any guesswork: they buy the entire solution, plug it in, and go to work.

That’s the most exciting part of our content marketing model: we’ve found whole new ways to reach our customers. From social media to targeted ads, we’re creating customized content that truly resonates with our customers.  It’s been amazing, this past year, watching our Subject Matter Experts immerse themselves in various industries and meet the decision makers where they congregate, as they build relationships and transform the way Cisco is perceived in the SMB space.

We’re also finding new inroads with those IT consultants, so that they can advocate for us when they meet new clients and go into new businesses. We’re arming them with the information and the solutions to make their clients lives easier and to close the gap for our sales team.

It’s really a beautiful model – so elegant, as it draws together the needs of our customers with our solutions. And it’s really having an impact. I think people are starting to view Cisco as the innovator we have always been, with solutions for all stages and sizes of business.

And to think, we did all that by listening to our customers and finding ways to truly connect with them.

It’s a whole new world of marketing and I like it.

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