BtoB Top Marketer: Susan Bostrom, Cisco Systems

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Since January 2006, when she took on the role of CMO, Susan Bostrom has overseen Cisco Systems' “Welcome to the Human Network” campaign, an extensive effort that stresses how Cisco connects people anytime, anywhere using Web 2.0 and collaboration technologies. This year, Cisco launched the next phase of that campaign, “The Human Network Effect,” which highlights the great things that happen when people come together and leverage technology, Bostrom said. “Cisco is taking the conversation from technology solutions that enable the human network to discussing the impact of collaboration by the people using it,” she said. This latest phase of the campaign, which the company is rolling out across eight countries simultaneously, debuted in September. To start, it will focus on the benefits of new collaboration technologies, such as business video, Web 2.0 applications and unified communications, as well as the benefits of innovative video technologies that can save companies money by eliminating travel costs. Other positive effects of the human network will be highlighted as the campaign evolves, Bostrom said. Web 2.0 has become central to Cisco's marketing strategies, Bostrom said. The company added applications such as click-to-chat and videos to its own Web site,, and now has about 10 million to 12 million unique visitors a month who spend an average of 12 minutes per session. The company also used communities such as Second Life and Facebook to connect with its audience when introducing its ASR router earlier this year. Also, when it launched a comprehensive collaboration solution, it used the same technology it was promoting—the Cisco Unified Communications Systems Release 7.0, Cisco TelePresence Expert-on-Demand and Cisco WebEx Connect—to connect customers, partners, analysts and the media across more than 50 cities. With the new phase of the campaign, Cisco intends to build on the success it has seen in the digital space and will move away from traditional methods of media buying, Bostrom said. The company will focus on building partnerships and creating content with media companies, sports leagues, entertainment companies and philanthropic organizations in an effort to reach audiences on multiple platforms, she said. In the meantime, Bostrom's marketing initiatives are paying off: The 2008 Interbrand Best Global Brand Study ranked Cisco No. 17 on a list of best global brands, saying the company's overall brand value had increased by 12%. The company was also awarded a 2008 Silver Effie Award in the category for corporate reputation/image and identity. “We are excited to see this as a testament to how Cisco has differentiated itself from its competition with a focus on inspirational messages that demonstrate how technology can change and improve the way we work, live, play and learn,” Bostrom said. —M.E.M.
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