Marketing Microsoft

Essential Gear for Catching Redmond's New Wave

Companies might be migrating later, but get ready now so you can sell to them when the time is right.

As a Microsoft partner, you undoubtedly realize that the releases of Windows Vista, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Exchange Server 2007 are likely to create a flood of business opportunities for you.

Microsoft calls these launches the most significant in its history. The company is pouring big bucks and lots of resources into informing business and IT decision makers about the benefits of these new and improved software products.

Microsoft's goal is to get these decision makers to start putting those products to work sooner rather than later. You can bank on the fact that many businesses of all sizes will start using the new products almost immediately. Then, if history repeats itself, millions more companies will license and install this new software over the next year. In fact, Microsoft estimates that 200 million people worldwide will use a new Windows Vista, Office or Exchange Server product in 2007.

Your current challenge: getting your share -- or more -- of the opportunities connected with selling this software and providing related services. That's where marketing comes in. Catching this wave of opportunity requires that you immediately spread the word that your company is the one to help prospective customers select and implement Redmond's new software.

The best way to start is to ask yourself this series of questions:

  1. Have I allocated enough money to effectively get the word out about our expertise and services?
  2. Do I know how many companies to target?

Not sure how to answer those first two questions? Visit the sales and marketing pages on Microsoft's Partner Program Web site, where you can use the Marketing Lead Calculator to help determine your budget.

  1. Do I know which marketing tactics I should be using to generate leads and drive sales?

For help, try the Marketing for Leads Marketing Plan worksheet, which is available in the same location on the partner site.

  1. Am I taking advantage of all Microsoft's marketing resources for partners? To find out, spend some time on the partner site's Create Demand page, also available in the sales and marketing section.
  2. Have I explored co-marketing opportunities with other companies?
    You may well find partners that offer complementary services and want to target the same prospects that you do. You may be able to leverage each other's lists, marketing budgets and personnel. A great way to find such partners: Microsoft's Partner Channel Builder, also available on the partner site.
  3. Do I have the people I need to get the marketing job done right?
    This is no time for amateurs. You must hit the ground running with experienced business marketers who know how to get marketing out of the planning stage and into your prospects' hands. But where do you find these people?

In addition to the obvious routes for hiring full- and part-time staffers -- newspaper ads and job sites such as Monster, CareerBuilder and HotJobs -- you might try MarketingSherpa's list of marketing job sites. Many of my Microsoft partner clients tell me that they've found experienced marketers on the Craigslist bulletin board.

Or you can bring in the expertise you need on a project-by-project basis. Consider hiring freelance copywriters, designers, event coordinators and other independent contractors. You can find such specialists through Web-based services such as Elance, and Sologig. Or look into a staffing service, such as Aquent Marketing Staffing, that specializes in placing marketing pros in contract jobs.

Ultimately, all these resources can help ensure that as Microsoft floods the market with these new releases, your company catches the wave rather than watching helplessly as it washes past.

About the Author

M.H. "Mac" McIntosh has been providing marketing and sales consulting services for Microsoft and many of its partners for more than seven years. More than 1,000 Microsoft Partners across the United States and Canada have attended his Marketing Boot Camps and Marketing for Leads (tm) live and Web seminars. You can contact Mac via