Microsoft's Strategy for Small Businesses (A): The Innovative PR Campaign for MS Office Accounting 2007

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG167
Case Length : 20 Pages
Period : 2005-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Microsoft Corporation
Industry : Computers and Information Technology
Countries : Europe, USA

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"Our promise to customers in the small business space is to provide innovation in software and service offerings to allow them to grow and thrive. Both Office Accounting products - the Express and Professional versions - are based on this promise, and give small businesses features that not only span the financial space, but also provide value to help them to become more efficient in their marketing, sales and customer service."1

- Rajat Taneja, General Manager of small business applications and services at Microsoft Corporation, in 2006.

"Rather than talk about the software, we wanted the brand to stand for something. We believe that the most powerful thing right now is a great business idea. We are going to be a brand that is going to help you bring your ideas to life. That's what the accounting software does."2

- Kevin McKeon, Executive Creative Director at StrawberryFrog,3 in 2006.

"After downloading, the first screen you get after registering is a screen recommending that you upgrade to the paid version. You're not even given a chance to try out the free stuff first. Not a surprise for Microsoft... so I can see that free really isn't free. You'll probably get annoyed with all the reminder screens and give up pretty quickly."4

- Lita Epstein,5 Author, in 2006.

An Innovative Campaign Targeting Small Businesses

On October 29, 2006, Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft), the world's largest software company, announced the launch of two new accounting software packages targeted at small businesses - Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 (OAE 2007) and Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007 (OAP 2007). The accounting software was an updated version of Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 (SBA 2006), which was targeted at small business owners.

The launch of these two new accounting software packages was supported by an innovative public relations (PR) campaign called the 'IdeaWins: The Ultimate Challenge' (IdeaWins).

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Contestants were invited to submit their business ideas at www.ideawins.com (IdeaWins.com). IdeaWins was promoted through print, radio, and online ads.

Microsoft also built up the buzz around the launch of OAE 2007 and OAP 2007, and the contest by covering the landscape of Willow Springs,6 with what apparently looked like aerial drops of CDs of its OAE 2007 software attached to miniature parachutes. People were invited to visit the IdeaWins.com website where details about the contest were given. Visitors could also download the OAE 2007 software for free from this website. A spokesman of Microsoft said that the response to the campaign had been "overwhelming". On March 05, 2007, when the four finalists were announced, Microsoft said that over 5,000 entrepreneurs had participated in this contest and that there were more than one million downloads of OAE 2007 from the website.7..

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1] "Q&A: Microsoft Office Accounting Express 2007 and Office Accounting Professional 2007 Build 'Onramp' to Internet Economy for Small Businesses," www.microsoft.com, October 29, 2006.

2] Eleftheria Parpis, "Microsoft Bows 'IdeaWins'," www.adweek.com, November 18, 2006.

3] StrawberryFrog, based in New York, USA, and Amsterdam, Netherlands, is an independently owned global advertising agency.

4] Lita Epstein, "Microsoft's Free Small Business Accounting Program," www.bloggingstocks.com, October, 30, 2006.

5] Lita Epstein is the author of over 15 books including Bookkeeping for Dummies and Reading Financial Reports for Dummies.

6] Willow Springs is a village in Cook County, Illinois, USA.

7] "Microsoft Announces Finalists in Nationwide Search for Most Innovative Small-Business Idea," www.microsoft.com, March 05, 2007.

 

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