Microsoft and the Cluetrain

This continues my thoughts and ramblings on the changing face of software marketing. I have followed Hugh’s blue monster experiment for some time.  (Hugh wants to sell wine, not Microsoft software, but it is a great way to follow grassroots marketing in action.)

I’m really impressed with what Steve Clayton at Microsoft had to say. (quote from Hugh)

The Blue Monster was designed as a conversation starter. To paraphrase the ongoing dialogue between Steve and I:

For too long, Microsoft has allowed other people tell their story on their behalf- the media, their competition and their detractors, especially- instead of doing a better job of it themselves.

We firmly believe that Microsoft must start articulating their story better- what they do, why they do it, and why it matters- if they’re to remain happy and prosperous long-term.

This is gaining some traction at Microsoft

 James Governor’s blog  pointed me to Jon Udell at Microsoft. I have raved about Channel 9 before, but I stumbled across this interview with Marty Collins. It is a great discussion on blogs and technical marketing, and I’d urge anyone interested in software marketing to have a listen. This then led me to the skyscrapr site, which Marty is also responsible for. I’ll be showing it to some folks here. I’d like to see a lot more solution managers having similar conversations. Although this is a Microsoft site, it is first and foremost about architecture. The site branding is refreshingly neutral. It looks as if they have lots of freedom with site design, no brand police with pages of rules on font sizes and logos.

The other day, David Terrar blogged about Microsoft’s SaaS platform. He didn’t link to the official MSDN site. but he linked to a blog by Gianpolo,  an architect on the team. On skyscrapr there is a behind-the-scenes look at how the solution was created, lots of demos and video. Also lurking on the Skyscrapr site is the same youtube clip about SOA that Dennis pointed to a couple of weeks ago.

This approach is so much more useful than traditional marketing collateral. More for Steve and his team to ponder on.

It seems to me that the goal of a modern marketing function shouldn’t be to  dictate, determine and control product messaging and branding, but to facilitate and encourage conversations between those that actually know stuff about the solutions and those that are looking to buy them. Those that know stuff could be the product manager or the developer, or even better, another customer using it. 

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