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Buy Local Promotion Gets Extension for Back-to-School

Microsoft will extend the current hardware incentive-based iteration of its Buy Local promotion for U.S. System Builders through the back-to-school season, a company executive said this week.

"This time of the year is a real key time for our channel and our partners, and that's because of back-to-school," said John Ball, general manager of the U.S. System Builders Group at Microsoft. "We've changed some aspects of the marketing materials collateral to really leverage the back-to-school opportunities for our partners."

The Microsoft campaign extension benefits one of the channel groups most affected by the delay of the Windows Vista release last year, a schedule slip that caused system builders to miss the back-to-school opportunity in 2006.

Buy Local is a long-running Microsoft campaign to connect U.S. system builders with nearby customers looking for desktop systems. The current 3.0 version of the promotion started Jan. 30 and was scheduled to expire June 30, but will now run through Sept. 30.

Earlier versions of the campaign gave customers free software and Web services. With Vista's release, Microsoft launched the 3.0 version of Buy Local with hardware, such as TV tuners, USB drives, wireless routers and print servers for systems built around Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007.

"The hardware offer worked out really well. The feedback from the channel is they're very excited to have some concrete items to give away," Ball said, adding that the number of redemptions of hardware items has exceeded Microsoft's expectations for the program.

According to Ball, the hardware-based 3.0 version of Buy Local has brought more than 13,500 customers a month to the site looking for partners, a 20 percent increase from the previous six-month period, and registration for the partner locator tool has increased by two-thirds from the prior period. Traffic to the related site, www.localpcbuilder.com, is up 30 percent to about 88,000 visitors per month.

Ball said 5,000 U.S. system builders are registered in the Buy Local partner locator. That is about a quarter of all U.S. system builders, he estimated. Microsoft subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Israel and several Asian countries are also ramping up Buy Local campaigns, he said.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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