Grow Your Business by Growing Your Customers’ Business

prod_small_photo0900aecd8031a14bPoint: The customers of your customers are your customers, too.design_gallery

Story: Cisco Systems makes networking gear for a wide range of customers, from massive data centers to home-office networking routers. Anyone who wants to build an internet-based network is a potential customer of Cisco. But, the bulk of Cisco’s sales go to corporate customers. So when you think of Cisco Systems, you don’t think “cheap video cameras.”

So why did Cisco pay over half a billion dollars to acquire Pure Digital, makers of compact inexpensive digital video cameras? Pure’s consumer-friendly little Flip Video products seem far removed from Cisco’s corporate industrial-grade networking technology.

Here’s Cisco’s logic: Consumer video cameras connect to the networks of Cisco’s corporate customers. Digital video consumes a lot of network bandwidth. Just 5 minutes of decent quality digital video requires over 4,000,000 bits per second for streaming and consumes 167 MB of total volume of transfered data. Multiply that by more the 100 million downloads a month at video-sharing sites like YouTube, and the result is prodigious demand on networking performance at data centers, internet backbones, and broadband internet providers. Thus, the buyers of these digital video cameras are important customers that drive the behavior of Cisco’s big corporate customers.

If Cisco can increase the sales of low-margin $100 digital video cameras, then it can increase the sales of high-margin $1 million high-performance networking equipment.


  • Look at the customers of your customers: their behavior drives your customers’ demand
  • Examine how and why your customers use your product to support their own customers
  • Consider new or expanded applications that would boost your customers’ customers’ usage and thus boost demand for your product
  • Invest in technologies that directly increase that customers’ customers’ demand or that help support the demand.

2 Comments »Case study, Customers, Growth, How-to, Opportunity, Strategy

2 Responses to “Grow Your Business by Growing Your Customers’ Business”

  1. Jerrie Hurd Mar 21st 2009 at 06:32 pm 1

    Don’t have anything technical to add, but like enjoy the format here. One sentence summary followed by larger story. Then actual application. Works really well.

  2. Brett Borders Mar 23rd 2009 at 08:38 pm 2

    Yeah, I like the format, too. There’s so much reading to do (on the web in general) and this helps prepare you for what’s to come.