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Get To Know Mark Phibbs, VP of Marketing & Communications Cisco Asia Pacific, Japan & Greater China

The customer experience is key to winning them over, be it based on product quality or an experience that they’ve had interacting with the brand online or offline.

What’s up Mark?

Hello and Happy New Year!

Can you share with us a little bit about yourself, Cisco and your role in the company?

I am the Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Cisco across Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China. Prior to this, I was Vice President of Marketing at Adobe for EMEA. At Adobe, I championed the move to software services and cloud-based solutions and transformed marketing to support an ‘always on’ marketing environment. Before joining Adobe, I spent ten years at Microsoft, as CEO of Hong Kong, General Manager and Business Development for Asia, Marketing Director for Asia, Eastern Europe and Australia.

Was 2018 kind or nasty to you and team as far as your marketing strategy is concerned?

2018 was a fantastic year for us at Cisco’s marketing team. We led our marketing approach with a “customer first” focus. To provide a personalised experience to customers, we implemented a data-driven approach to marketing in a digital world through our new marketing insights optimization (MIO) team. In the past year, the focus on marketing and branding has also seen the launch thought leadership research papers focused on topics that matter to our customers, including cybersecurity and digitization in Asia Pacific. 2018 also saw the launch of Cisco’s new brand campaign “Bridge to Possible”, which drives corporate innovation through aspirational goals in the form of real cases and stories of Cisco’s promise to build and offer technology – that will form the bridge – to overcoming some of the world’s greatest challenges.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned out of that?

It’s more of confirming what I already knew: in order to truly revolutionise customer experience, you have to focus on data-driven marketing and specifically shift the focus from technology to customers. Even B2B customers are all individuals. They are all sons, mothers, fathers, and daughters. They all live individual lives beyond being a CIO or a network buyer. Yet, too often, marketers focus on laying out all of the impersonal tech specs behind their products rather than how exactly those specs benefit the consumer above all else. 2018 taught me the importance of focusing on the person over the product.

How about 2019, any particular area that you and team are working on to ensure the year will be a success?

2019 will be all about doing things differently at Cisco and marrying technology alongside the power of engaging and delighting the people behind the tech. I believe the best marketing strategies bring together technology and life seamlessly, effortlessly, and my team and I are committed to helping Cisco realise that mission in 2019.

Cisco is a go-to brand when it comes to Networking and Cloud. How do you plan to ensure the brand stays on top as a leader in the industry?

We plan to ensure that, alongside Cisco’s cutting-edge technological solutions, we give back to the world and foster the next generation of makers through programs like the Cisco Networking Academy, which teaches in-depth courses on networking, Internet of Things, programming, security, and other subjects integral to improving digital literacy for all students. We are also sponsoring research studies in various digital and technological fields to learn more about what the current landscape of security, industry, and marketing looks like in particular regions and for specific types of businesses. Initiatives like this ensure that Cisco continues to bridge to what’s possible with technology and sets us apart as a leader in technology that solves problems.

Asia is completely different from other continents, especially on their buying behaviour. What’s your take on this?

There is a rising realisation that too many consumers, home is not necessarily one singular place, but rather, amorphous in location and defined by the technology they use in their daily lives. Instead of particularly focusing on Asian buying habits as opposed to other continents, I’m much more interested in exploring how digital natives—people born or brought up during the age of digital technology, and therefore familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age—are joining the workforce around the world. Like me, these individuals have often grown up, lived, and worked in multiple countries and continents. Their definitions of “home” in the digital age are entwined with technology. I see this shift as critical for marketers to recognise and take advantage of in order to stay relevant in the age of digital transformation. Rather than marketing to a single culture based on continent, what technology companies must understand is that, when done correctly, their brand can actually become a culture—a home—for consumers.

Sales or marketing?

Both!

Why?

Both sales and marketing have to work together in order to deliver a strong return on investment (ROI).  

Let’s talk a bit about Marketing. We know it’s a secret but can you share with us a little and in general how you guys are doing it?

We believe in telling technology stories about Cisco using the language and through the eyes of our customers. That can mean customer advocacy, case studies, short videos, and more to show how our technology helps them achieve business objectives. Cisco is an incredible marketing company, mostly because we’re open to adapting to what our customers need from us. We’re all about data-driven marketing, so none of what we do is in isolation: it’s all connected to and inspired by what the customer has told us they want. That’s the human element and the approach to connect to the wider world that I was talking about earlier.

90 percent of the reasons people purchase from you is because of your product quality and user experience they had from your brand. Only 10 percent is from your marketing stunt. What do you think of this statement?

About 60% of buyers typically would have made a decision even before approaching a sales representative. I definitely believe that the customer experience is key to winning them over, be it based on product quality or an experience that they’ve had interacting with the brand online or offline.  

Online, offline and media relations. Which one should go first as a priority for B2B brands to play and which one should be the last?

All of those play a role in creating an ‘always-on’ and relevant influence within an omnichannel customer journey.   

The best way to contact you?

You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn, both @MarkPhibbs.

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