Marie Hattar is the Vice President of Marketing, Borderless Networks for Cisco (http://www.cisco.com) and is responsible for setting and developing a strategic vision for products and services that span switching, routing, mobility, security, and application acceleration. Marie and her team have recently executed a number of global launch programs working with their colleagues around the world to leverage a central message around Borderless Networks.
Marie shared her experiences and best practices managing and executing a marketing strategy for a large global brand.
Cisco takes pride in being a truly global company and we see international marketing as essential to sustaining market leadership and creating future growth. Over the last year, the biggest change we’ve made is identifying hot spots and sending in task forces to accelerate those markets. We conducted in-depth analysis based on growth projections, share penetration and technology trends to arrive at our list of top country targets. From there, we worked closely with our international counterparts, often times pulling in additional “HQ” resources to bolster campaign ramp and traction.
One of the most often asked questions by CMOs is “what works better – a centralized global marketing structure and plan or a decentralized, region-by region effort where local teams each execute their own marketing efforts and programs?”
We’ve tried the decentralized approach in the past. At times, we created what we thought of as turn-key programs and relied on countries to carry out the “last-mile” go-to-market. Currently, we’re taking more of a hybrid approach. For the most part, we’ve centralized our branding, messaging and content creation. But now we bring that to the countries and work together on an execution and demand-generation plan based on what’s going to work best for their local audiences and sales coverage model. This gives us our platform consistency but takes into account the unique needs a country may have in how they generate demand and what vehicles their customer's best respond to.
Which countries/regions do you see for the technology market in general?
In addition to the traditionally strong markets of the G8 countries, I think everyone in technology realizes the potential opportunity presented by China, India, Mexico and Brazil.
What are the most critical marketing “must dos” to be successful in international marketing?
You really have to understand what the customer pain points are in those countries—and you can’t assume that what applies here in the US is true everywhere. The same is true with the creative. Imagery, messages, colors, fonts—all these things are experienced differently depending on your cultural point of view. And it goes without saying that you need to keep a sharp eye out to watch for use of jargon—phrases that might be commonplace in your own culture can mean nothing to another culture. On a much larger scale, one of the biggest mistakes I see companies make is to assume that because they’ve got a great, successful product, they can just put up a shingle somewhere else and find a good translator. This is a naïve approach. You need to think of any new international market as a piece of untilled soil. You need to tend it and fertilize before planting anything. And the best way to do that is to find local partners that have a synergistic relationship to your own business. Otherwise, you risk your credibility.
Can you share some example of effective Cisco international marketing programs and efforts you have or are currently executing?
We just executed a big, global launch on March 17th and held both live events and webcasts to get the word out to our customers. We worked together with our colleagues around the world to ensure the content and timing of the launch events were optimized for success in their regions and we ended up with a launch plan that spanned several weeks and has a strong rolling-thunder plan for sustained messaging. Just by looking at our events page at www.cisco.com/go/experience you can see how we leveraged a central message around Borderless Networks and tailored the delivery to best meet our countries’ needs.
What is the current and future state of social media for international marketers? Has it proven more effective in some countries/regions more than others?
The use of social media is definitely on the rise and is definitely a great equalizer in terms of customers’ access to corporate messages and experts. We see individuals from around the world asking questions about deployment scenarios, educational resources, and product positioning on a daily basis on our Facebook fan pages and CiscoGeeks twitter feeds. We see strong adoption in the US and across all of Europe. That said, social media as a communications channel is ramping globally and customers from all over the world are participating in the conversations.