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Susan Bostrom, Exec VP-CMO, global policy and government affairs, Cisco Systems

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Title: Exec VP-CMO, global policy and government affairs
Company: Cisco Systems
Years in current job:
Quote: "I don't think I had realized how powerful the Web could be in taking a customer through the purchasing journey. We can get data on an hourly basis, find out right away what's working and not working, and evolve our Web capabilities to meet those customers' expectations. It's very exciting."

As Cisco Systems' exec VP-CMO, global policy and government affairs, Susan Bostrom oversees the company's corporate, product-and-solutions and segment marketing. Bostrom breaks her 2009 marketing priorities down into three key categories: increasing the value of Cisco's brand, improving the productivity and effectiveness of the company's marketing using Web 2.0 and virtual capabilities and driving key market transitions.

The company's "Human Network Effect" advertising campaign continues to drive its brand efforts, highlighting the great things that happen when people come together and leverage technology. But it has evolved to reflect the economic realities of the past year, Bostrom said. "While we continued to emphasize in an aspirational way the promise of connecting with people and collaborating on the human network, we also were really clear on driving and defining the impact of those collaborations," she said.

The result, she said, is a campaign with a more pragmatic, targeted approach that helps customers understand how they can use Cisco technologies to save money, bring products to market faster or have a better impact on the environment. The effort continues to have a positive effect on Cisco's brand. The 2009 Interbrand study ranked the company at No. 14 on a list of the best global brands, up from No. 17 last year.

The campaign has also served the company well in driving leads, Bostrom said. "We feel very good about that messaging, and we feel good about our partnerships with our sales organization to really target key customer needs that they're hearing and help them connect to potential lead opportunities."

Bostrom has focused heavily on using Web 2.0 capabilities in Cisco's marketing efforts, including virtual events, virtual product launches and Web site activities. "The "net net' of the virtual events and launches is that we can reach five to 10 times more people at about 10% of the cost," she said. "Plus, we've gotten pretty darn good at blending virtual and physical initiatives and launches."

Cisco continues to expand aggressively its use of Web 2.0 capabilities on Cisco.com, Bostrom said. When visitors come to the site, they engage longer because of the video, click-to-chat and WebEx connections they find there, she said. Most important, those visitors are turning into leads for the sales force. "Our continued investment in Cisco.com has been a key differentiator for us," she said.

The third category Bostrom has been focusing on is market transitions—technology innovations such as data center virtualization and video. In March, Cisco acquired Pure Digital Technologies, the maker of the popular Flip Video camcorders. Video is an exciting space for Cisco, Bostrom said. "You think about video as being the handheld device you might hold to capture the video, but that's just the beginning," she said. "Think about Cisco's potential to allow you to share that video in the highest quality way across devices, in the home, on the road and in the office."

—M.E.M.

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