Monday, April 30, 2007
As you may recall, Cisco recently created a microsite to feature their new campaign that re-positions the traditional networking equipment company as they expand and evolve their business model. The website already includes some interesting content, and I hope that they continue what they have started.
The site's introduction says "When we're all connected, great things happen. Join us and see how life on the network is changing life as we know it." However, most of the content on the site is highly polished storytelling which applies the predictable voice of professionally edited marketing communications.
I believe that it's ironic, because this campaign strategy is really a legacy marketing approach that's used to describe a unique and unconventional phenomenon -- ordinary people using communications and digital media composition tools without the intervention of professional journalists, videographers or PR spin-doctors.
The idea behind the site has the potential to become truly remarkable, but the execution needs re-thinking.
I believe that Cisco's message would come across as being so much more authentic if they made the story submission process less formal, and more inviting. They would attract more unsolicited interest, like this commentary, if they demonstrated a greater degree of public engagement.
Moreover, shouldn't a showcase that celebrates the Human Network include a distinctive human voice? Clearly, confronting this irony isn't just a Cisco issue. The problem with all legacy 20th Century marketing communications thinking is that it doesn't seem to translate very well into today's environment.
The real human network isn't filtered. It isn't edited. There is no predictable spin. That's how the essence of authentic realism comes shining through. Therefore, I challenge Cisco to not only re-imagine their business model, which they have clearly done, but to now also re-imagine the human voice that they apply throughout their content within this microsite.
Again, I'm not suggesting that this will be easy -- unlearning conventional wisdom never is. Regardless, I believe that Cisco has the opportunity to accomplish something truly remarkable with their Human Network campaign. I'll gladly offer constructive suggestions on how to find that distinctive voice.
To help them begin the process of discovering the full potential of their microsite, I've already submitted the recent column that I wrote about the "Digital Storytelling Phenomenon."
I also encourage their marketing leadership to take the time to ask themselves this key question -- does the world really need yet another conventional player in the consumer electronics marketplace?
Note: this storyline continues in a related post about the Cisco Connected Life Contest.