Cisco's APAC marketer on bringing insights and optimisation in-house

Cisco sees agencies as experts on media placement and strategy and industry trends.

Cisco, the technology brand that wants to be known as a marketing company, is adopting the language and the eyes of a customer in a bid to tell interesting technology stories.

The new focus for the company has already been brought to life in a 2017 advertisement for its ‘intent-based network’ solutions that featured Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage, wandering through the streets of London describing how simple the new network is while contemplating the hyper-connected world around him.

The Drum spoke to Mark Phibbs, the vice president for marketing in Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China at Cisco to find out how the company uses data and innovation, its thoughts on the rise in-housing and management consultancies, evolving agency models, and an ever-changing suite of technologies at their fingertips.

What is the single biggest opportunity for advertisers in 2019?

To combine traditional TV and print with digital to provide a personalised experience for target audiences.

What are the biggest challenges facing your marketing department in 2019?

There is also a shift from product-centric to customer-centric marketing. To truly personalise the experience for our prospects and customers, we are using data-driven marketing, the latest in marketing technology and great cut-through creative to break through the noise and delight our target audiences.

The process of optimizing an omnichannel journey is an ongoing challenge and requires marketers to develop a testing culture to ensure we are always improving the experience of our customers.

We also have to do more with less as expectations rise and budgets fall, which is always a challenge! We also need to ensure full General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance in everything that we do.

In the face of digital disruption and a changing agency landscape, how are you future-proofing your marketing department? How do you see it changing over the next year in particular?

We are future-proofing by bringing some key skills in-house, such as Insights and Optimization, by having analysts and data scientists, we can determine what is working, what is not and how to optimise the marketing mix.

In today’s world, you need to move quickly and we have a small creative team so that we can adjust creative within hours.

When we’re discussing agencies of the future, we so often hear terms like ‘in-housing’ ‘internal talent’. In terms of the client of the future, what does the relationship between clients and agencies look like?

I look to agencies as ideas factories that think strategically and give us input that we may miss by being too close to the problem. I also see them as experts on media placement and strategy and industry trends.

What skills will be essential for up and coming marketers over the next five or so years? Is where marketers learn these skills going to change?

Combining art and science is essential for marketers today. They need to think about how marketing is contributing to the bottom line. The Value Creation Zone, as mentioned in Thomas Barta’s book, “12 Powers of a Marketing Leader”, marketers need to understand the customer better than anyone else in the business and use a combination of data and creativity to unlock value from the target audience.

Do management consultancies have a role to play in future-proofing marketing depts? If so, what is that role?

Yes, as advisors on industry best practice and as outsourced strategy and planning consultants.

The Drum will be holding a breakfast panel discussion in Singapore with brands like GSK and Grab at Twitter HQ on August 15 that will reflect on 25 years of digital advertising and what the future holds for advertisers in this evolving digital landscape. Sign up for the free event here.

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