Big, Smart and Personal
The obstacles were many for Microsoft and its business intelligence (BI) products. Not only were there many fellow BI products in the IT marketplace, many of those competitors had been on the market for considerable time, and Microsoft's set of BI solutions was more expensive than most of them—and adding to this were concerns about its ease of use among a wide range of workers.
Microsoft had to find a way to make its BI product stand out and generate solid leads in a direct marketing campaign. With The Jacobs Agency, based in Lawrenceville, Ga., it created an integrated lead generation program that broke out nationally (in fall 2008) with dimensional direct mail, a personalized brochure and microsite to drive leads to sales. "Microsoft was late to market, and the BI space was very cluttered, plus the C-suite wanted to make sure they didn't have a huge ramp-up time and hoped to see quick investment returns," says Natasha Kesaji, director of client services at The Jacobs Agency.
Jacobs conducted research and found that spreadsheets (usually Microsoft Excel) are the tools of choice to capture, present and deliver business intelligence data, so it had an opportunity to position Microsoft as an "end-to-end BI provider"—a platform built on existing IT investments like SQL Server 2005 and front-end delivery in Microsoft Office—with limited ramp-up time.
After a successful regional test that generated a 3.5 percent response rate, Microsoft expanded the campaign nationally to reach more than 7,000 contacts in 17 unique industries. "We really were targeting only the agencies that Microsoft kind of had on their key target list—organizations who they knew would be ready to take advantage of their whole solutions stack of BI," explains Kesaji, who mentions that Jacobs tried to go at least five to six people deep within each organization to make sure that the targeted executive would be sure to see it.