Catapult campaign timed to Windows 7 launch

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No one was happier to see Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 7 roll out the door than the software giant’s network of systems integrators. These companies, which produce specialized software, had endured two years of complaints about the usability and performance of Windows 7’s predecessor, Windows Vista. For its part, Microsoft was eager to make its newest operating system debut a success and lent money and expertise to the integrators’ efforts.

Austin, Texas-based Catapult Systems, a Microsoft-focused IT consulting firm with about 240 employees, was ready to pull out all the stops with its support for Windows 7, given that its own surveys showed that 80% of its clients planned to move to the new OS.

“Our goal was to get to the market quickly, promote Windows 7 effectively and demonstrate our expertise,” said Marketing Programs Manager Tami Anders. The program centered on a multicity tour anchored by three of the company’s internal Windows 7 experts. Microsoft also contributed experts to the seminars.

Catapult used conventional direct and e-mail marketing to promote the events but also put into place a comprehensive social media marketing campaign. Employees were given a consistent message and URL to add to their e-mail signature. Those on Twitter were asked to regularly post invitations to the seminars.

The social networking site LinkedIn was also core to the word-of-mouth effort. Catapult created groups for each of its regional events and invited its top 25 prospects in each city to join. There prospects could learn about the seminars and submit questions for the experts to answer. Hundreds of questions poured in, and so did reservations—more than 700 altogether. “We were impressed by the level of attendance and demand generated,” Anders said.

One key to success was Catapult’s strategy of seeding the market through as many of its employees and in as many social media channels as possible. E-mail forwards and retweets spread the message in a way that direct mail never could.

The integrator also took advantage of the prospect of free stage time and the rollout event. Employees entered a homemade video in Microsoft’s Windows 7+You=Success: What’s Your Story? partner contest. Its two-minute, twenty-second video clip, which showed Catapult employees cheering Microsoft’s “I Believe” slogan, was one of two contest winners. It was displayed during the keynote address at the Windows 7 rollout. “It was a great way to show Microsoft and other partners that we’re on top of the message,” Anders said.

Outreach continued right up through the Oct. 22 launch with a monthly series of 45-minute webcasts and a small-group event for prospects who indicated readiness to buy.

All told, the offline events put Catapult in front of more than 700 prospects.

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