Company: Microsoft Corp.
Years in current job: 10
Quote: “Over the past year we've taken a new approach with our marketing, blending art and science, and letting customers be our guide.”
To stay ahead in a challenging economy, Mich Mathews, senior VP of Microsoft's Central Marketing Group, has been diligent about listening intently and moving swiftly. Her goal: to reignite a dialogue with the 1 billion businesspeople and consumers who use Microsoft's products and services.
Early this year, Mathews, who oversees the company's global marketing activities, took a hard look at the company's campaigns, both business and consumer, to determine if they were resonating with key audiences. “In the case of our business campaign, it was working; but we thought it could work harder,” she said.
So Mathews and her team talked to customers and got feedback from Microsoft's global subsidiaries and, ultimately, decided to retool the campaign, which targets business and IT decision-makers. In just 21 days, the company updated various campaign assets—focusing messaging on how Microsoft technology can help people run their businesses successfully, particularly in a down economy—and rolled out ads in 32 countries around the world. The retooled campaign, “Because It's Everybody's Business,” includes TV spots and print and online ads.
“The results have been great, and it's been a case study for marketers across the company,” Mathews said.
Though she stressed that a strong marketing mix still includes both on- and offline components, Mathews said online marketing has been particularly effective this year.
“We've seen great traction with digital,” she said. “The digital world has meant prioritizing engagements over impressions. Not only do online ads drive traffic to our site, but we've found that viral videos and other rich online experiences have increased preference for products among those who've seen them. It's powerful to engage with an audience in such a direct way that entertains, in addition to educating.”
For instance, as part of the “Because It's Everybody's Business” campaign, Microsoft rolled out an online show, “It's Everybody's Business With Jack and Suzy Welch.” In the Web series, former General Electric Co. CEO Jack Welch and his wife, Suzy, former editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review, help companies tackle tough challenges. The first episode of the show was viewed almost 7 million times, Mathews said.
In measuring the success of Microsoft's marketing campaigns, Mathews focuses on three core areas: awareness, acceptance and action. “We've seen traction across these areas with our core campaigns, particularly with people taking action,” she said.
For example, she said, the length of time visitors spent on Microsoft's business Web site doubled shortly after the “It's Everybody's Business” campaign began. The company has also seen dramatic awareness increases for Bing, its rebranded search engine, which has registered 41% unaided awareness since its June launch.
Also, within weeks of last fall's Windows Consumer Campaign launch—Microsoft's largest consumer marketing push ever—the company tracked 92% of online blog, forum and chat posts as neutral or positive for Windows. “We gave our fans license to speak up online in a way they hadn't been able to do previously,” she said.
Focusing on the customer will continue to be a guiding principle in the year ahead, Mathews said. “You'll see us continue to invest heavily in marketing these products in the next year, with a diverse set of approaches that span digital and traditional marketing,” she said.