Cisco Systems’ Theresa Kushner on Navigating Online and Offline Strategies
Now that your company has spent a king’s ransom on marketing-related hardware and software, hired consultants by the dozens and adopted new, innovative Internet marketing strategies, what now? How do you integrate the new technology of clickthroughs and tracking software with the good, old fashioned ‘smile and a firm handshake’ method of closing a deal?
It’s not an easy task—even the biggest of companies, according to Theresa Kushner, director of integrated marketing programs for Cisco Systems Inc. Not easy, but certainly not impossible either. It’s simply going to take some planning and out-of-the box thinking on your part, Kushner says. San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems, dominates the world market for routers and switches, the hardware that links the networks that powers the Internet. With 2005 revenues totalling nearly $25 billion, Kushner’s job is to manage, on a grand scale, those same basic marketing strategies employed by the local pizza shop.
Target Marketing caught up with Kushner as she was preparing her materials for this week’s DMA Interactive Marketing Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. Kushner’s presentation at the conference, Solving the Mystery: What’s Driving Profitable Business to Your Site, dovetails nicely with this issue’s Q&A topic, melding online and offline marketing strategies to maximize customer follow through.
Target Marketing: How difficult is it to track results and crossover data between a company’s online and offline marketing programs?
Theresa Kushner: Sometimes tracking from online to offline is like putting square pegs in round holes. The information you gather from your Web site may or may not be accurate enough to effectively track your customer base or revenue streams. The way around that is to accurately measure profitability from a marketing perspective.
Let me explain. Sometimes we folks in marketing tend to lose sight of the big picture. We dissect each segment of the market, and each segment of the target audience so fine, and into such tiny chunks, that we forget about the bottom line, the return on investment. Ask yourself how online customers can be routed successfully to your sales force, and how new or established customers can benefit from the online experience. It’s the oldest business adage out there: Identify your customer, and get to know your customer. That’s your starting point.
TM: How is your company accomplishing this?
TK: At Cisco, we are combining data collected from our Web sites with information from our sales force, creating an advertising, sales, and Web design team that not only creates a unique Web experience, but allows us to track customer trends and interests. It’s important that your IT people, your sales people, your ad people, everyone—be on the same page.
The first step, obviously, is to identify and track the visitors to the Web site from start to finish. Proper identification ensures a personal dialogue with each customer, and can be accomplished through a short series of questions. Then, within that Web environment, we constantly look for ways to keep the customer involved. We take data samples and ask exit questions like ‘Did you buy? Why or why not?,’ then carefully audit all that information to track the new and repeat customers.
TM: And how is this integrated into the offline customer experience?
TK: Not only is the information tracked backward through customer surveys, it can be tracked forward to the point-of-sale. That matrix is forwarded to partners in the customer’s area, or to event marketers at trade events. Event marketing is wonderful, in that it offers the opportunity for a face-to-face connection with sales people. We then track the online to offline parallels, and vice versa. For us, small, medium and large businesses buy in different cycles. Small business buys on less frequent cycles, so we have to ‘keep them warm’ between sales. The Web is the best way to keep them warm and build a lasting relationship.