Hello Partners and Colleagues,

 
I’m writing from San Jose, Costa Rica, where I’m about to embark on a weeklong series of connection and fact-finding meetings across Latin America, with our subsidiary partner teams and partners.
 
Back at headquarters, we are getting into the early planning process for our next fiscal year in July. This is the time my team and I start stepping back from the day-to-day to think about how we continue to deliver breakthroughs in our marketing and stay aligned with industry trends.
 
I spent a significant amount of time last week connecting with our agencies of record and other thought leaders, like Darren Bibby of IDC to set forth challenges so they’ll come back with creative blue-sky thinking about planning our marketing investments and strategies going forward.
 
I’m exploring some specific areas:
  • The increasing role of social media in B2B marketing and how to measure impact in a corporate environment. I’ve had some great conversations with key thought leaders.
  • How to take the next steps in our partner-to-partner (P2P) strategy. How we do better enable the 640,000 partner organizations Microsoft works with to connect with each other and amplify the value of membership and partnership with Microsoft?
    • We’ve seen great response and uptake of our MPN Live series and our MPN Connect service will launch on Digital WPC prior to WPC to promote structured networking.
  • How to build upon the success of customer-to-partner (C2P) strategy. Our marketplace strategy continues to deliver value and connections for our partners through Pinpoint.
    • On this subject Paul W. Hillman, partner and Director of Client Relationships at C/D/H’s Technology Report kindly dropped a note to the team this week, sharing his delight at the interest his organization is receiving through our marketplace.
    • Our business groups are increasingly adding partner marketplaces into customer marketing. I’m still surprised many partners are either not profiled or have a profile that doesn’t truly create compelling value in the eyes of the customers. I encourage all our partners to validate whether their presence on Pinpoint truly reflects their differentiated value to customers.
We have a number of new marketing services coming on stream. The first wave of our new Partner Portal launched a few weeks ago, and worldwide rollout of new Partner Marketing Center has commenced following successful pilots in key regions. We continue to roll out improved relationship marketing capabilities to deliver more relevant and personalized communication to our partners. Digital WPC has a series of phased releases planned and our subsidiaries will soon start building out their local presence on the site. So far the U.S., U.K., and Canadian communities are live on the site.
 
Last week I spent time with our Worldwide Partner Conference team. We opened registration for WPC 2012 four weeks earlier than usual at the request of our partners to ensure they can plan ahead for the trip to Toronto in July. The early interest has been fantastic and if the current trends continue, we’re heading for a SELLOUT, so, if you’ve not already registered, please do so to avoid potential disappointment.
 
Due to the early registration, we have yet to officially confirm keynote speakers and tracks. We’re a couple of weeks away, but rest assured our CEO/COO and Divisional Presidents will all be there, offering a unique opportunity to hear about Microsoft’s strategic direction and technology innovation – and how it offers tremendous business opportunity for all our partners. We aim to have this done and posted prior to the closing of early bird registration on April 5th.
 
With regard to WPC and my comments about Pinpoint profiles – yet again we are running a Marketing track at WPC 2012. Last year we had over 1,100 attendees for this track and it was rated in the Top five of all tracks by attending partners. Our aim is to build on the success of predominately external speakers, such as David Meerman Scott and Jeremy Epstein. Increasingly, we are seeing our partners sending their senior marketing staff to WPC to attend this track, comprised of more than 10 sessions. It’s probably one of the largest marketing events in the industry, something not to be missed if you are a marketer looking to maximize your partnership with Microsoft .
 
In my next blog I’ll report on my trip through South America. The following week, I’ll host a three-day summit in Redmond for the Partner Marketing Leads from our top 20 subsidiaries and areas as part of our planning for next fiscal year. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop. Thanks for reading!​