Dear Cisco marketing: routers are not iPhones

As Network World writes, the latest product announcements from Cisco were met with the “so what” attitude. As one of my recent pet projects dealt with improving presentation skills, I found it interesting to try to understand the marketing techniques used in these announcements. The Presentation secrets of Steve Jobs book was a great help. Among other advices given by its author, you’ll find these:

Create Twitter-like Headlines ... but there’s a difference between already far-fetched “Apple reinvents the phone” (Steve Jobs @ iPhone launch) and CRS-3 will forever change the Internet.

Dress up your numbers. “iPod can store 1000 hours of music” sounds personally relevant. “Every Chinese could make a video call over CRS-3” doesn’t.

Simplify everything. But not to the point of telling the engineering community that the high-end router “unifies the combined power of six chips to work as one”. We are not trendy gadget-seekers; we are engineers interested in how the high-end routers can help our networks grow.

Picture Superiority Effect. This is a trend described in numerous books (including Presentation Zen) and it makes great sense if you use relevant photographs. Combining abstract graphic with a single buzzword doesn’t.

Furthermore, if you do a webcast, you should care about late arrivals. They cannot use a deck of slides that works great in an interactive environment with a highly engaging speaker. You should give them some meat to digest; I couldn’t figure out what the Borderless networks launch was about until I’ve read the blog post by Jennifer McAdams.

Share the Stage. I’ve entered the Borderless networks webcast at the point where they’ve introduced customer case studies. I love to hear real-life usage examples; they are so much better than the marketing speeches or technical details. Unfortunately the only thing I remember about the speaker describing a regional governmental network was his invitation to visit his great region.

Dear Cisco Marketing: your company makes great products, they can be used to create superb solutions, but they will never be as sexy as iPhones. Please treat the networking engineers that will use your products as serious career professionals, not a crowd of ecstatic fans of an overhyped consumer gadget.

2 comments:

  1. Piotr Wojciechowski13 April, 2010 13:25

    I agree with you, but seeing Cisco going into camcorders makes me think that Cisco don't know what and how they want to sell and where to be positioned.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I disagree: I think an ISR G2 is way sexier than an iPhone ;)

    ReplyDelete

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Ivan Pepelnjak, CCIE#1354, is the chief technology advisor for NIL Data Communications. He has been designing and implementing large-scale data communications networks as well as teaching and writing books about advanced technologies since 1990. See his full profile, contact him or follow @ioshints on Twitter.