Marketing Leaders: Interview with Mark Phibbs

Watch this exclusive interview with Mark Phibbs, Vice President of Global Campaign, Content and Industries Marketing at Cisco.

Throughout the years, Mark Phibbs, Vice President of Global Campaign, Content and Industries Marketing at Cisco, has worked in a variety of different marketing roles at a variety of blue chip technology companies including IBM, Adobe, Microsoft and Cisco. 

In an interview with Peter Stojanovic, Mark provided valuable insights in relation to purpose marketing in today’s hybrid working world.



Brand promotion strategies

Mark kicked off the interview by stating that efficient strategies for brand promotion are centred around personalisation. He commented that Cisco also uses a “sophisticated” tech stack and account-based marketing to target the customers they want. 

Making sure that the message being sent out is relevant and differentiates a company from other brands is another priority according to Mark. “We’re constantly looking at content to ensure that we did achieve a breakthrough in the market”, he said. 

The “core audiences”, in Mark’s opinion, are Chief Information Officers and other IT professionals since they are the main decision-makers when it comes to purchasing things for a company’s network and security system.

Digital-first and social-first. These keywords are what Mark focuses on when it comes to generating brand promotion strategies. He added that marketers need to: “Focus on getting a great return on investments because marketing budgets continually go down – not up”. 

He also believes that we are heading for a global recession. Later in the interview, he pointed out that during these times: “Marketing is often the function that’s cut”.  


Obstacles and brand purpose

When considering the obstacles of building purpose into your brand, Mark argued that marketers need to be genuine. “There’s no point in greenwashing your brand”, he said. Cisco has a mission to drive an inclusive future; Mark commented that this mindset extends to their employment policy. 

“I still see a lot of brands saying they’re improving the environment - but they are still funding fossil fuel coal mines”, he said. Mark argued that following through on these “green future” promises can be damaging to the brand. To avoid landing in this situation, he advises companies to make sure they stay relevant and approachable for core target audiences. 

Mark commented that there is this “constant battle” to continue to refresh the brand and appeal to those target audiences today. He pointed out that one of the challenges they are facing is appealing to millennials and younger technology buyers. With the increase of online presence, he stated that: “Younger generations tend to decide more quickly and actually are better informed”. At Cisco, brand studies are being done regularly to come up with ways to reduce the barriers and ensure the younger generations value and trust their brand.


Advice for marketers

When asked what advice he would give to marketers who want to safeguard their brand, he brought up the sales function. “I think marketing people need to make sure they are working very closely with sales”, he said. In doing so, he believed this would help the business grow faster and become more profitable. 

The challenge with using this method is positioning the marketing strategy in a way that will entice customers. “Everyone does their consideration online and if you’re not showing up on their ‘watering holes’ and the places they look at, you’re not going to be successful”, Mark explained.

Mark discussed how in the B2B world, buyers nowadays look at press articles, reviews of products and analyst reviews. Before making the decision to sign a multi-million dollar deal, he argued, those buyers will be examining those online reviews. Improving your business’ online presence is something Mark thinks will help leaders safeguard their brand.

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