Now, as Cisco's CMO, he's determined to bring more measurable results to the marketing realm. To do so, he helped spearhead the creation of a marketing dashboard, which tracks image and brand perception, lead generation, employee retention and customer satisfaction.
"My team is managed and rewarded based on the ability to meet goals, but that wasn't the case for our company 10 years ago, or for any other company-especially not in the go-go '90s," he said. "Now, it's about effectiveness and efficiency."
Since Richardson took the CMO post, marketing spending has declined from 5% of annual sales to 3.3%. But that hasn't hobbled marketing efforts by any means. Some of the company's most effective campaigns have been launched during that time, including "Power of the Network" and, most recently, "Self-Defending Network."
"We knew that security is a big problem for business decision-makers, but yet it was something solved by technical decision-makers," Richardson said. Instead of discussing viruses or worms, the "Self-Defending Network" campaign underscored the human side of security, such as how it affects telecommuters and business travelers.
Under Richardson's leadership, Cisco is developing automated systems to track the effectiveness of leads generated by global marketing campaigns, enabling Cisco to more precisely link marketing spending with results.
"If you give more [financial resources] to a top salesperson, it's well-documented what your return will be," Richardson said. His goal is to demonstrate the same ROI for marketing. "I want to get to a point where I can say, `If you give me another $200 million, I can deliver another $1 billion [in revenue].' "
When it comes to media choices, his group has been particularly selective. "There's been a 50% reduction in the number of activities in the past year," he said. "That's big news, because if we can limit the number of activities, we can maximize the number of dollars we put behind each one."
Richardson joined Cisco in 1990 after a decade at Unisys. Prior to his current position, he served as senior VP of the enterprise line of business.