Marketing transformation: Where do I start, oh, where do I start?


Disclaimer: This blog reflects the Microsoft journey in digital marketing transformation. Don't assume that everything that we have done and tested will be a 100% applicable to your business. Test and measure in your own business to define your strategy.


Microsoft has been doing marketing for the last 30 years to varying degrees of success.  We’ve been centralised, decentralised, product focused, audience focused and everything in between.  However, when I moved into my new role as SMB Marketing Lead two years ago, I knew that we needed to do something drastically different.  My suspicion was that we were no longer having an impact – But where to start?

In my case I did a couple of things. 

I ran some controlled tests.

For example:  I questioned if events were not having an impact or if it was a case of the wrong demand generation and an oversupply of events in the market.  I tested this theory by running a series of events in Wollongong (a controlled environment, rarely visited by major
vendors), investing deeply in a number of demand generation methods and closely tracked the impact delivered.  The net result was that the events were very poorly attended and drove a negative ROI.  Events clearly did not drive impact in small business.

I questioned

I also questioned the impact of outbound call centres, but did not know if it was the effectiveness of a single call centre vs the effectiveness of the actual activity.  To test this, we ran the same campaign across five call centres.  Two call centres were managed by Microsoft and three managed by partners.  Interestingly the result in all five call centres were identical – regardless of the maturity of the agents, cost or management.  Call centres has little or no impact in small business.

I did an audit

Apart from the controlled tests, I also ran a marketing audit on all activities reaching the small business audience.  I asked all my colleagues who owned any engines or activities that touched small business customers in any way to pull reporting on:

•             Number of customers being reached

•             Frequency

•             Impact

•             ROI

I had it analysed

I asked the analytics team to map the results to our database and analyse the results – Which was astounding.  We were reaching the same 20,000 customers repeatedly with almost no impact. 

The results were clear and undisputed - We needed to drastically change our marketing approach to reach the more than 1.2 million small businesses in Australia.

We did not know what how, but at least we now knew what was not working. We could start.


Understanding your starting position is imperative to move forward in your journey to marketing transformation.  Take the time to take a hard look at everything you do and be brutal in your analysis.  The numbers don't lie and will inform your strategy to move forward. 

It will show you where to start.