Cisco Earns New Customers One at a Time with Content

It turns out that technology giant Cisco has been a publishing company for years.

The Cisco Newsroom or The Network has been around since about 2005. It’s incredible to stumble upon this huge content site. I can’t believe I didn’t realize it existed.

There was an article on ZDNet discussing what Cisco is doing with The Network.

Tom Foremski explains in Lessons from Cisco: The corporation as media company:

Many of my readers will know that I’ve been writing extensively about how every company is a media company–even if they make diapers or ball bearings, they are constantly publishing through a multitude of channels and today, those channels are publishing back to them. Every company needs to be able to talk and listen, and to master our two-way media technologies and publication platforms.

It was Cisco that was the inspiration for my “every company is a media company” credo. Back in 2005, I had just left the Financial Times, when Dan Scheinman invited me over to Cisco to see what they were doing. I was amazed.

It’s incredible. The entire article is great. It analyzes what Cisco was doing well before many companies with their media approach. The site has grown to have a huge following even larger than some of the more mainstream tech news sites.

Here was the most interesting part of the article for me.

But Cisco is different, probably because it, and its key executives, started earlier than others. I’ve known John Earnhardt, Director of Corporate Communications, for many years, he is an early blogger. When I spoke with him at the anniversary event, he said that success of “the network” could be measured in single digits, very single.

“Even if just one person finds our content compelling and important, that’s success for us,” he said.

My reply was, “Really? One person?”

“Yes, because if that person is a key decision maker and controls a large budget, we’ve done our job,” said Mr Earnhardt.

And he is right. If you can reach a key decision maker like that, you can probably do the same for their counterparts in other organizations, too. Buying millions of dollars in network equipment and other IT systems, will easily pay for the cost of producing a unit of media content.

That’s the key for any company that is looking at business blogging or content publishing of any kind. It’s important to at least have a vision for what you think your content channel can become. There should be a focus on developing a profit from the efforts at some point. It can’t all be about traffic or even about subscriptions. Profit has to play a role. Even as Cisco put effort and money into The Network they seem to have always had a vision for making the channel an effective way to reach new customers. The effort may have started out as more of an experiment, but at some point the experiment is called in and results need to be shown.

Additional Thoughts on The Network

After spending some time browsing The Network I have a few things to add to the article above.

There is TONS of content on The Network. There are 10 different categories in the top navigation including Data Center, Video and even Social Media. It seems like Cisco is trying to address the questions its customers will have. Since Cisco is used by IT and Marketing folks it makes sense to have a variety of information about these areas.

Some of the posts are pretty short. They address the topic and perhaps link to another article. It’s a great strategy for furthering discussion. It’s something I do here on the GBW blog. It’s a great way to simply build on a topic with fresh insight and perspective.

Other articles get more in depth. There are many articles about Cloud Computing including some posts that address key issues. There is so much content on The Network that’s it’s difficult to scour through much of it right away.

It’s interesting to see a company as large as Cisco investing so much into content. There must be something to this movement of creating content in order to acquire new customers while adding value for existing customers.

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