Cisco’s annual partner marketing conference, Partner Velocity, wrapped up in Las Vegas last week. Two hundred and thirty-five partners from 24 countries were in attendance to witness Cisco’s recently appointed VP of global partner marketing, Amanda Jobbins, sing her heart out during the closing ceremony. I can confidently confirm that she passed her trial by fire with flying colors and her future at Cisco (or Glee, if she decides to pursue that path) is fully secured.

I had the pleasure to sit down with approximately 15 partners over the course of the three-day event. Here’s what the event looked like throughthe lens of partners’ marketing professionals:

  • “As a member of a tiny marketing team, I have a lot of responsibility and very little support. Velocity helps bring me up to speed on the latest-and-greatest marketing trends and best practices.”
  • “The marketing experts that speak at Velocity are top-notch. The only thing more valuable is the peer-to-peer network that the event cultivates. Cisco sure knows how to bring the marketing community together.”
  • “I’d like to see Cisco create marketing education-for-dummies and align it more specifically to my business.”

This was my first time attending a partner event focused exclusively on marketing enablement and innovation. I can honestly say that I drank the “Partner-Led” Kool-Aid and walked away believing Velocity is a clear differentiator for Cisco. If the company delivers on its promise to provide ongoing physical and virtual educational programs for all its partners (not just top partners), it will solidify its position as a maturing partner favorite. Velocity did the job it was intended to do, and I left the event with three key takeaways:    

  1. Cisco’s “Marketing Badge” concept is going to be well received by its partners.  Partners acknowledged that because they are not adept at all aspects of marketing, they hope that the certification will provide them with marketing education skills across the board, including those for lead management, demand generation, event marketing, etc.
  2. Cisco is committed to growing the social strategies of its partners.  During her opening remarks, Amanda Jobbins stressed that “84% of Fortune 100 companies are active on social media.”  This theme resonated throughout the course of the event and partners responded with urgency: boatloads cashed in on their free social media audits.
  3. Cisco is investing in community development for the long run.  Partners voiced that Cisco’s commitment to building a community through webinars, online portals, events, etc. is going to make all the difference in their ability to connect and share best practices with their peers.       

Overall, it was a solid event, and Cisco seems to be headed down the right path. If it brings back keynote speakers like Peter Hinssen and Jeffrey Hayzlett (and perhaps invites Forrester’s own Kim Celestre), Velocity could grow significantly in size next year due to popular demand. For all you marketing professionals out there, what do you think of the effort of vendors like Cisco – along with Microsoft, Juniper Networks, and Asigra – to marketing-enable their channel partners?