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Where Do Partners Play in the Ubiquitous Office 365 Ads?

The Microsoft Office 365 full-court press is on. About nine months after launching the rebranded and upgraded online business productivity suite, Microsoft is finally giving the product the advertising air cover it needs to succeed.

It seems like nearly every consumer or general business Web site I visit these days has a Microsoft Office 365 advertisement. (Why this didn't start last July, I have no idea.)

That said, I was curious to see how prominently partners figure into the sales mix once a customer clicks through one of these ads. A quick click on one suggests that Microsoft views the partner role at that stage of the sales process as fairly minimal.

Looking at the landing page, I found a lot of information about the different plans and was also immediately invited to a direct sales chat session for more information.

Partner references on that landing page? Zero.

If a customer happens to know they're looking for partner help, they can find partners by clicking on the "Support" button in the horizontal navbar and scrolling down to "Find a partner" and "Partner deployment support."

A FAQ section also starts referencing partners about halfway down the page as the scenarios become more complicated. Microsoft is specifically recommending partner involvement for enterprise customers migrating from BPOS, for deployment services, for migration services and for custom development projects. The FAQ provides several contextual links to Microsoft Pinpoint.

What's your take? Is Office 365 the Microsoft channel's direct sales nightmare or is Microsoft putting an appropriate amount of emphasis on partners in this one stage of the sales and marketing process? And is a rising tide of attention from the ads in the last few weeks leading to more customer interest in your services as a partner? Let me know in the comments below or at [email protected].

Posted by Scott Bekker on March 22, 2012