Microsoft has a marketing machine?

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03 January 2005

In my

previous entry Randy H notes that Microsoft has a different approach to marketing:

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MS has some incredibly talented marketers. The Technical Product Manager role is essentially a marketer that helps to determine what features go into products and how things should work. To me, that kind of marketing has a lot of value. I wouldn’t dismiss the role of marketing in our greatest technology companies. Wasn’t .NET a whole lot of marketing as well?

  While it is true that Microsoft has a unique approach to marketing, they really aren't much different than anyone else. While .NET was as much marketing as anything else (since the ".NET" got slapped on _everything_ for a while), the reason it has been successful is due to its technical merits.   Notice that the ".NET" label is fading already - Visual Studio 2005, Visual Basic 2005, etc. No .NET left in the product names at all. My guess is that ".NET" the term will fade away into the same marketing hole that swallowed up Remote OLE Automation, MTS and soon SOA.   I have always found it amazing when Microsoft is said to have this "great marketing machine". In many ways they are the worst marketers out there. Certainly far, far worse than Apple or IBM for instance.   Apple has the trendy thing going, and has for a very long time. Microsoft has never been trendy or fashionable or cool or hip. But Apple sure is hip, and it shows in their iPod sales. For some reason though, having powerful marketing in the "cool space" doesn't translate to widespread use.   IBM has those really kick-ass commercials that juxtapose business situations with strange solutions. And prior to that they had the cool commercials showing non-tech scenarios that were just metaphors for IT issues. Very cool and very smart stuff. Very effective too, as IBM’s global consulting arm has become large and influential due to that kind of marketing.   Microsoft has never had anything remotely similar to “real” marketing like that. Microsoft’s marketing has always been more subtle and focused on technologists. In reality, Microsoft’s marketing has always been more grass-roots, much like the open-source world.   And there’s some humor for you. The open-source world has apparently decided that it too

needs marketing. Even if you make no money off your work, you certainly want the fame/notoriety – and to get fame you need people to use your stuff rather than your competitors’ stuff (regardless of whether they are commercial or <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />OSS).

  At the same time, Microsoft really wants to move into the enterprise space, and so they have been trying to figure out how to do “actual” marketing along the lines of IBM. And they want to sell consumer items like the Media PC, so they’ve been struggling to figure out how to be hip like Apple. Hopefully as they do this, they’ll manage to continue the MSDN and TechNet-style marketing to the technical community. We’ve been the bread-and-butter for them over the past 12 or so years after all.