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9 Ways To Include Microsoft's Sway App in Partner Marketing

Office Sway, Microsoft's new presentation app, is going prime time, rolling out to Office 365 customers over the coming months. That makes this a great time to test out some new marketing approaches using a fun, flexible tool.

Currently in preview, Sway is part Web site, part presentation app -- and the possibilities are endless. Sway is an insanely easy way to build a Web page that looks professional without the help of a designer. There are a couple of caveats to taking design into your own hands, however. Some of the templates were definitely not intended for business, so keep in mind that simple is always better. And your viewers are busy, so keep your content short and to the point.

Be warned: Your plan to spend a few minutes with Sway can easily turn into hours of adding one more graphic and trying one more remix!

The Sway team is setting a brisk pace of updates. In January, Microsoft added the ability to embed Excel Online charts and graphs, then soon added interactivity so readers can engage with data that you present. Through the new collaboration functionality, you can make your Web page a group project.

As Sway matures, it will undoubtedly become a mainstay for marketers. For now, the slate is blank and it will be great fun to see how people apply their creativity to the platform. To get you started, here are nine ways you could incorporate Sway into your marketing:

  1. Tell a story. Follow an employee around for a day or use Sway for your case studies. Combine lots of photos with your text to bring the story to life.

  2. Create an infographic. The ability to include some interactivity with the data adds a dimension of engagement that you don't get with static infographics. Infographics can address a specific industry, summarize your company credentials or explain a complex process.

  3. Build excitement for an event. An invitation to an event is a great place to start, but what if you create a site for the event that builds over time? Speaker bios, pictures of the setup, event photos and presentations for download will keep attendees coming back.

  4. Hold a contest. During its recent Ignite conference, Microsoft sponsored a "Trip Report Challenge" to promote Sway engagement. You could hold a contest for your customers or employees to see how they would use Sway.

  5. Explain a process. By its nature, Sway appears to be an excellent way to illustrate the flow of a process. Whether it's your project implementation methodology or how a new business process will flow through your customer's business, Sway could be very effective.

  6. Put user documentation online. As a follow-up to No. 5, you could add a lot of depth to user documentation by presenting it through a Sway. You can combine demo videos, screenshots and text to appeal to any kind of learner.

  7. Build your newsletter. Early on in the Sway beta, we talked to one partner who created their newsletter in the app. While there doesn't appear to be a way yet to easily transform your Sway into an e-mail, you can start with links. Build out your articles on Sway and then include a few teaser lines and the link in your regular newsletter. Help your customers and prospects envision all the ways that they can use Sway.

  8. Up the ante on prospect presentations. Are your sales people sending an intro document or PowerPoint to prospects after the first call? Sharing a link while they are still on the phone could be much more powerful. A Sway presentation can easily be customized to each client. 

  9. Add your marketing materials. You can import both .PDF and Word docs, which makes the process easy. As you translate documents from print to Web, think big and bold. Break up text with lots of graphics.

As Sway reaches a broader audience through its Office 365 launch, take the lead to show your customers what it is and how they can use it. Sway has tremendous potential to add value across your customers' organizations, so use it in different departments in your own business. There's no telling what service opportunities you may stir up as you explore the possibilities with this new platform.

How are you using Sway? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on May 13, 2015 at 3:54 PM