Microsoft’s New Campaign, Positioning Targets B2B Customers

Software giant Microsoft is retooling its marketing and strategic positioning to prime itself for a battle against IBM, Sun Microsystems and Oracle. At stake: the $90 billion domestic enterprise software market.

That’s an area in which Microsoft, known primarily as a personal computer software maker, comes up short. But with a new $200 million advertising campaign, the Redmond, Wash. behemoth not only looks to dominate the enterprise field, it hopes to do so by selling something else it hasn’t really been known for: agility.

“Businesses today need to be fast and nimble to compete and respond to customer needs, yet a lot of the technology for business is big, slow and expensive,” said Microsoft president and chief executive Steve Ballmer. “We believe Microsoft offers a better and far more cost-effective solution. Over the past 10 years, we have listened to customers and focused like a laser beam on building enterprise software that gives businesses the agility they need to compete in today’s marketplace. The ad campaign we are launching today is designed to show enterprise customers why they should take a good look at our solutions.”

The “Software for the Agile Business” campaign thus aims to position Microsoft as the provider of software that allows businesses to meet rapidly changing enterprise and customer needs. The campaign, which features television spots and out-of-home work, focuses on Microsoft software’s high quality, reliability, power and flexibility.

The main thrust of the ad campaign is Microsoft’s Windows 2000 operating system, and its line of Microsoft .NET enterprise servers.

But Windows 2000 is hardly a new product — it’s been in the market since its launch last February — so changing corporate IT buyers’ opinions about the product might be harder than Microsoft expects.

And in the eyes of many industry watchers, the Redmond giant dropped the ball when it came to promoting Windows 2000 initially, failing to throw its marketing muscle behind the product and letting competitors like IBM, Oracle and Sun grab sizable market share.

But Microsoft’s vice president of marketing, Mich Mathews, says it’s not too late for the software giant.

“Microsoft has an amazing growth opportunity in the enterprise,” Mathews said. “The challenge now is to make sure all our customers know that we have solutions that are superior and offer greater value. That’s the principal goal of this marketing effort.”

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