In the 13th episode of the Midwest Marketing Show we are joined by our guest Mike Peterson from Minneapolis. Mike is now the Key Audience Marketing Manager at Microsoft, but he got his start in Seattle at Accenture in the sales department. It is there that he really got excited about marketing and made the move to Microsoft. During this show, Mike answers the question about what Microsoft has to offer the marketing team and how they can help improve productivity.
Since Mike covers such a large region (seven states and five metros) and a large team, we asked him to focus on the challenges of working in this environment and what are some solutions that help Microsoft achieve their goals.
- Internal communications – Leveraging tools like Yammer to break the conversation outside of the boundaries of email and allow for collaboration.
- Being in more than one place at a time – Empowering your team and partner network with content and mission, you can really expand your influence beyond your physical presence.
- Gaining sales team buy in on strategy – If you sales team can get behind your marketing strategy, you can deliver better experiences for the customer and drive your sales pipeline.
When I was at Accenture, I had a large tech client and had the opportunity to work on a couple large-scale, global technical project but actually on the marketing side.
I think working for a technology company fills my desire to continually learn and adapt because the products that we build change every day. No two days are the same.
I mean, our products are updated multiple times per month. It's no longer as a new Office version or the new Windows version. It's how are these versions changing on a monthly basis. We're moving away from that huge launch time frame, but the amount of knowledge that a marketer needs to have at Microsoft grows by the minute. Really, needless to say, I keep pretty edgy on that side, just trying to keep up to date with all the products we have.
When I'm not trying to update my knowledge on our products, I work across seven states and five major metro areas on strategic campaigns with, really, our largest customers in the enterprise that Microsoft's been ... Try to help them understand this new Microsoft and how we can ensure they work with today's technology, not the technology of old.
That typically comprises of different emails, digital in-person campaigns and really helping support the 150 sales folks in the district that are driving the hundreds of millions of dollars for revenue at Microsoft.
A lot has changed over the past few years, and the way budgets have shifted, Microsoft has put a lot of effort behind building tools for marketers. What are some of those tools that you guy offer? How can they improve a marketer's workflow?
When I think of our fellow marketers here in the Midwest, I think the four biggest needs that come to mind where Microsoft plays the key role are really marketing analytics, marketing operations, digital marketing and customer experience. Microsoft's goal is to offer marketers these world-class solutions to help our clients get the whole package when it comes to really making their marketing work.
I think we have come a long way like you said. When I think about marketing CRM, we really help unite that customer information from multiple channels to create a single view of the customer journey. Our self-service BI tools and dashboards really help analyze those behaviors and marketing insights real time to help understand and create what motivates customers.
One of the things that really excites me on marketing analytics is our predictive models and analytic services that help anticipate customer needs and proactively respond to them. We recently have a case study out with Pier 1 Imports, so the retailer down in Dallas, and how they're leveraging what we call our Azure Machine Learning mechanism to build contents and email campaigns that matter to the shopper and help target that specific message.
When a customer ... Their customer receives an email, it's something that they're actually interested in versus shop in the dark, leveraging a lot of the data they have on the transactional side. Then when I think about marketing operations, as marketers build those responsive team, I think responsive work. They are really hot right now in the industry.
We really try to help marketers react at least, to the information and customer requests by building cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools that we can streamline campaign management and workflows and help focus on those key initiatives. Moving into digital marketing, I think digital advertising right now is expanding in so many different facets.
Screen factors are changing. Formats are changing. Form factors are changing. It's important that marketers know how these interactive experience is making impact. You have a fantastic digital platform that really gives marketers that 360-degree view of their customer and makes the biggest impact.
I think the digital aspect that Microsoft brings across, not only the PC or Mac, the phone, the tablet, but also this new wave of advertising in the Xbox realm or on screen and helps bring that connected experience across, which is really neat and unmatched in the industry. Then finally, customer experience, I think we can agree that creating a new customer experience is top of mind for most marketers, whether that's in the sports industry or retail or, really, any experience out there.
We've got a wide array of solutions that help our customers cross between that physical and digital world and helping drive loyalty along every step of the way. One of my favorite case studies out that's risen around the Internet of Things in this customer experience is with Royal Caribbean and how Microsoft really helps them reimagine the cruise experience space, leveraging our services.
It's a really cool story of how that connected digital world helps drive more experience in the physical world, and I think you've experienced some of that recently, right? Were you on a cruise recently down on the Caribbean?
To have 6,000 people on these boats all have that same experience, right? You don't see people walking around with frowns on their face. You don't see people saying, "Oh, no. I missed my show," because the ship is alive. It gives you that information, and the Royal Caribbean team is all about delivering that experience from a in-person situation to the digital side, too.
They do an amazing job, and it's one of the reasons we switched from looking in a carnival or, really, just any destination vacations and really see the experience that the Royal Caribbean team delivers both on shore during their excursions and also on boat that this is somewhere that we want to ... A company we want to continue to do business with.
That target's initiated in the early phases of their analytics and how you can leverage a platform like Azure that has tools that allow for developers to go in and build these engines without huge investment in infrastructure, so where marketing teams can now pump up the budget for building the projects, but we don't necessarily need the IT spend because it's all in the cloud.
We can have forms and all that data is brought back into CRM, and it's shared with the sales team as well, and so as they learn about accounts and as they start to hear leads and opportunities, that data is all there. If a key lead goes to an event on the marketing side, I don't necessarily have to be in communication with our sales team and say, "Hey, this is coming up. This person's part of an event. I'm doing a on-person event."
They have that information. It's all pulled directly into CRM and shared to the team, so I absolutely love the way Dynamic CRM helps empower that. One of the parts of the show we have is called The Threes. I think everything can ... Everything good has a third, so there's three items in the list.
One of the questions I want to ask you, because you have such a wide variety of members of your teams spread across the geographic area and you are such a big company like Microsoft, what are some of the challenges you see when working with teams that are spread through a large geographic region like North Central? What are some of the solutions you've seen that work to help collaborate?
I think the first thing is internal communication. Even though with so many avenues of communications these days, it seems like we would probably figure that out. I found that the more outdated those communication we have, the more cloudy it gets. No pun intended. An email-heavy company, and we've found that leveraging something like Yammer as our internal social network, has really increased our internal collaboration communication with when we use it effectively.
I think we've seen this really pendulum shift of moving from email to more of an engagement route internally, and we're leveraging that solution particularly on the communication front.
Let's work together on this and not just wait for email response or wondering am I part of this? Can I share information?
I think of that because even though I don't think I'll ever be a superhero, right, I found that the best way for me to be in more than one place at once is to expand my sphere of influence. There are sales teams, and then with our partners. As a marketer, it's difficult to think about, "Man, I have to let go of my message or my content in some facet in order that I can reach more people."
Even though I can't control that and I can't be in Minnesota and Kansas and Missouri at the same time, I think equipping others and helping expand that sphere of influence combines the perfect life to succeed. For Microsoft, it's key and essential for Accenture that we have multiple messages hitting the market at the same time. That's the only way for us to survive.
As you mentioned at the beginning, transitioning into a new role and a whole new set of stakeholders, that's something that's really helped me build my brand again internally and get that buy-in from our sales team on our marketing strategy for the district and how we can jointly drive pipeline together that reach both of our KPIs.
As I mentioned that our company is evolving and shifting to the cloud world, it's allowed me to really make this investment in my own professional career as a marketer. I'm starting next month, going back to school and get a ... Working to get a graduate certificate in marketing because I think it's important that we always learn.
Doing my own homework at home and reading some books on storytelling. There's a great one out by Martin Sykes that talks about how the art of the visual and making stories that move mountains is how we can build our brands as marketers and how our products can really come to life to our customers.
Then another book on audience marketing and then also just getting involved locally here in Minneapolis with an organization called the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association or MIMA is one that I've started to just really get some more influence and hear from other locally and then internationally on where they're getting their influences and best practices.
I think we always need to learn, and this world changes so much we can't be ... We can't know everything.