Marketing Tools and Strategy at Microsoft


Mike Peterson of Microsoft on Marketing Tools and Strategies

Featuring: Mike Peterson

Recorded on: April 15, 2015


Links for Mike Peterson:

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Show Description

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. 

The Threes

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.

Influencers


Show Transcript

Jeff
Welcome back to The Midwest Marketing Show. I'm Jeff Julian. Today, I have a very special guest. First, he's from a company that is near and dear to my hear, Microsoft. Today, we have Mike Peterson. Mike, how are you doing?
Mike
I'm doing fantastic, Jeff. How are you doing?
Jeff
Great. It's nice weather here in Kansas City, and you're out from Minneapolis. I hear it's pretty decent up there.
Mike
I can't complain. I think we're coming through winter, so, so far, so good. The birds are out chirping. Working in the home office is great today because I can hear all the frogs and all the insects making some noise, getting ready for spring.
Jeff
There he goes. Sounds awesome. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in marketing?
Mike
Sure. Well, I'll start on the personal side. I've been married for just over nine months and I live in the suburb just outside Minneapolis. My wife and I don't have any kids or pet, so we spend a lot of our time enjoying the time around the house, traveling. It's really tempting to run our own version of the show, Fixer Upper.
Jeff
Nice.
Mike
I've been doing a lot of projects around the house, just to make it feel more like a home now that we've been married for a little bit.
Jeff
It's awesome.
Mike
Then on the professional side, I got to say I fell into marketing. It wasn't what I felt I would be doing out of college because coming out of college, I was a sales guy and then a cool internship with a southwestern company while I was in school in Seattle and then landed my way into management consulting with Accenture.

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.
Jeff
Nice.
Mike
I think it was during my time there where I really fell in love with the art of marketing and how to leverage data and content and how that's really creating this new age of the marketer. For the last seven years at Microsoft, I've been able to really continue and build on that expertise and the love that I have for marketing and just that it's always changing.

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.
Jeff
Absolutely. I love that marketing and software development are so closely related, but I don't think we realize that enough. I agree that working in technology is great because everyone is used to the change. Content needs to frequently change to follow that and processes and just the way we, like you said, leverage data.
Mike
Yeah, exactly.
Jeff
Cool. You recently moved into a new role at Microsoft. Your new title is the Key Audience Marketing Manager, which I love that title because if you're working with somebody, they know they're part of the key audience, right? What does your day-to-day activities look like at Microsoft?
Mike
I guess, I could answer that asking you the same thing is, is any day really the same? Over the last 18 months, Microsoft has changed quite a bit, just from this world of the ever-changing "cloud", right? As a company that's built on in its motto of the cloud, things change every day.

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.
Jeff
Wow. That's a pretty big task there, especially those five key metro areas across seven states.
Mike
Yes.
Jeff
Then-
Mike
Keeps me busy definitely.
Jeff
Oh, yeah. Then I mean, Microsoft has never been fearful of releasing multiple products. Understanding what those products do is a chore of its own even as a developer, but I could see as a marketer, that's a lot of information to absorb.
Mike
Yes.
Jeff
When I think of Microsoft, and I think the audience can agree, we don't necessarily think of marketing. Maybe if we use Office, a lot of people use a Mac, so they might use Office for Mac or collaboration with SharePoint or something along those lines, but that's a utility thing that everyone uses.

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?
Mike
You're right. I think most people think of Microsoft as a technology vendor that has Office and Windows, and that's pretty much it and that's where it stops. The reality is that Microsoft's garnering a lot of attention even from the likes of Gartner around the tools that we have for marketers as leaders and innovators for this solution.

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?
Jeff
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I mean, we drove down to Florida and went on a seven-day cruise, and you totally get that connected experience. Everywhere you go is touchscreens with the current information. You go to your TV, all your expenses, all your activities, the ticket show up to your room. You really feel like the digital and the physical side that you're connected and cared for.

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.
Mike
Awesome.
Jeff
Yes, so I really love what you said about marketing analytics, the fact that we can get some more of this data and the tools you guys have with Dynamics Marketing definitely gets you that experience and then also what you talked about with Pier 1 and hearing how they've leveraged the experience.

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.
Mike
Yeah. It's nice, too. You don't always have to engage data scientist to help with that algorithm, right? Some of the solutions we have come out of the box.
Jeff
Yeah.
Mike
We've helped do that heavy-lifting on the front end, and it makes the strategy a little bit easier to implementation.
Jeff
Yeah, it's awesome. Then on the marketing operation side, we've seen this firsthand at AGI when we're trying to bridge the gap between sales and marketing. We're taking a content marketing approach, so we still need to be able to trigger sets of data and analytics back to see what the return on investment is. We've got tools for that, but that tool that is critical to us is that CRM tool, Dynamic CRM where I can do an event. I can have some landing pages.

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?
Mike
I also like the threes methodology. I think research has shown you remember things better when it's in three. I'll give you three of my own challenges that we deal with on almost a daily basis at Microsoft, just given the large reach and spread of how large the company is.

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.
Jeff
Yeah. I mean, Yammer is definitely rampant at Microsoft. Even in the partner engagement level, it's all Yammer. That communication is so rich because if somebody feels they need to respond, they'll respond. Then that starts the thread, right? It's this beautiful world of kind of, let's put messages, like forums. Let's put messages out there, and let them live in a bucket.

Let's work together on this and not just wait for email response or wondering am I part of this? Can I share information?
Mike
Yeah, exactly. I think we've ... We're starting to see a lot of that internally and then it always leave the conversation open, so you're not looking for the last email or if more than one person has the same response, then you're not getting 50 emails on an email spring. When it's sent to a lot of people, it's really nice to have a central place to see all those responses.
Jeff
Exactly. Just like any time Microsoft does an acquisition like they did with the Yammer, the first version doesn't necessarily fit like the perfect puzzle piece. Trust me, it will get better. Office 365 and Yammer will be so closely integrated that it will just feel like a seamless part, just like all the other Office tools do.
Mike
Exactly. Jeff, when I think about this, I can thank you. It's something I joke about with my wife also. It's being able to be at more than one place at once. I think we would all like a superhero power and when we were meeting with officer, that question, just casually, "Hey, what super power would you want?" Mine was always teleportation.

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.
Jeff
Definitely.
Mike
Then the third thing is just getting sales team buy in on our strategy, I think, like all marketers and large ... Like all large companies with a huge sales force, getting sales force buy in on campaign strategy is pretty difficult. I found leveraging technologies like Microsoft Lync or as just launched today for general availability is Skype for Business on calls, and video conferences really help for that space to a name engage more trust.

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.
Jeff
Exactly. Amen. I mean, as you see a large company like Microsoft transition into the new sales role, right, because they're selling to a lot more than just IT now. Having commissions and quotas and all that stuff, but as marketer trying to push the relationship with customers and the long strategy, the long game, it's difficult. I see that having a guy like you at the stern pushing that message helps us partners continue to push that exact same message.
Mike
We can't do without you.
Jeff
Exactly. I mean, those are great. That's exactly on point of that bridge between marketing, sales and the communication you need. It just shows why large companies like Microsoft do so well at getting information out. It's not running ads on TV that help enable people to understand what Azure is or what tools are available. It is this huge network of partners and sales people and internal marketers that help deliver that full experience and that message to allow customers to see Microsoft as a solution for their problems.
Mike
Yeah, exactly.
Jeff
Cool, so as we start to wrap this up, I was asked the question, "Who are some of your influencers, maybe in the Midwest region and also worldwide for marketing?"
Mike
Right. I think the hardest part to answering that question while working at a large technology company is that influence has been for the last seven years while I've been here has mostly been internal. This was so many products happening. There are launches for the last so many years. Really, all of my spare time has been reading and trying to keep up do date on all the newest features with our products.

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.
Jeff
Yeah, exactly. I love that you reach out to that local community because Minneapolis and in the sphere of Midwest, outside of Chicago, Minneapolis has very vibrant community, lots of big corporations. You got Best Buy. You got Target. You got all these people off in that area, Cabela's, and they're all dealing with very similar problems, and so seeing your reach into that local community to embrace it, to sponsor it and to also learn from it.
Mike
Yes, exactly.
Jeff
Great. Well, it has been awesome having you, and I hope we can get you on the show again to give us an update on some of these tools that Microsoft offers for marketers some time this year.
Mike
Yeah. I'd love to. I think we've got a lot of neat stuff coming.
Jeff
Great. Well, thanks again.
Mike
Yeah. Thanks, Jeff.