BtoB Top Marketer: Mich Mathews, Microsoft, Corp.

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Relevant messaging is the mantra of Mich Mathews' marketing philosophy. “Because we have an incredibly broad and diverse base of customers—from young students to Fortune 500 CEOs—our products and brands need to establish a strong connection to those discrete audiences we target with each campaign or creative execution,” the senior VP-corporate marketing group at Microsoft Corp. said. The company sought to strengthen its connection with a broad base of its customers through the “Windows: Life Without Walls” campaign that debuted last month, highlighting Microsoft's relevance in a world that has moved beyond desktop computing. “We recognized that our customer needs have evolved beyond the PC, and Windows has evolved also to the Web and mobile devices,” Mathews said. “However, consumers' perception of Windows has not evolved in lockstep with the new experiences. We needed to communicate the new Windows experience and value proposition to our customers.” Microsoft called on its most relevant “spokespeople”—its own customers—to champion the brand in an integrated campaign that provided a quick introduction to a global array of everymen and women showcasing different technology needs. Divers, astronauts and teachers joined celebrities such as entertainment mogul Pharrell Williams and actress Eva Longoria to proclaim: “I'm a PC.” The company invited its customers to post video and images to its campaign Web site, creating a browsable collection of testimonials to be shown in New York's Times Square. “Digital media is an increasing priority for Microsoft,” Mathews said. “Since 2007 we have been increasing our digital media spend as part of the marketing mix, with a goal to shift the majority of our advertising budget to digital channels by 2010.” The unveiling of the Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 demonstrates that shift. The company fueled a virtual product introduction through its “Heroes Happen Here” and “Server Unleashed” campaigns, which championed the behind-the-scenes efforts of information technology specialists and included a comics series as well as more than 200 face-to-face events. The combined effort reached more than 700,000 customers globally, Mathews said, and resulted in an improvement in the quality of leads and the number of evaluation-copy downloads, as well as the growth of positive sentiment about the products. “We wanted to drive a set of marketing activities that facilitated a conversation,” Mathews said. “Not only a conversation between Microsoft and the customer but a conversation between the customers themselves. Many of our efforts focused on building community with customers and partners, and allowing them to share their stories via social media and virtual events.” —C.W.
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