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“Anything is possible for a company when its culture is about listening, learning, and harnessing individual passions”  

–Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO from Hit Refresh  

As I mentioned in my previous post, marketing organizations are under enormous pressure. The modern marketing imperative requires us to be artists who can create brands that emotionally connect with customers; scientists who can test, measure, and make data-driven decisions; and technologists, wielding an increasingly sophisticated set of marketing tools to deliver connected customer experiences. How do we as Marketers thrive under such pressure?

Culture at Microsoft US is the backbone of our marketing. It aligns us to the passion of the emerging millennial workforce and their desire to make a difference in the world. It defines how we listen with insatiable curiosity to the needs of our customers in their aspirations for digital transformation. It inspires us to innovate, take risks, and keep trying to weave our culture as a common thread into all our marketing execution.  

Here are 3 core principles behind how we are learning to do this at Microsoft US.

Listening 

Talking less and listening more is sometimes difficult for marketing to put into practice, particularly in the B2B space where we must work much harder to gain the same level of deep understanding that we might have with direct consumers. Our Microsoft Customer Experience Center (CXC) is an industry center of excellence for delivering social engagement at scale. The CXC monitors over 100 social channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Yammer, listening to customers as they engage with our brands. We process nearly 10 million customer interactions per month. Such authentic, unsolicited input from customers helps shape our marketing strategy and guides our approach to helping our customers achieve their business outcomes.

Learning 

The breadth of skills required for modern marketing is increasing. Eighty percent of CEOs say the need for new skills is their biggest business challenge, according to Bersin and Zao-Sanders in a recent Harvard Business Review Article titled, Making Learning a Part of Everyday Work. A workplace that provides the opportunity to learn more and learn fast appeals to the rising generation and is becoming a competitive advantage to attracting and retaining talent. Our cultural transformation at Microsoft US inspires a shift in attitude from being know-it-alls to becoming learn-it-alls. In a typical month at Microsoft our World Wide Learning organization is hosting MOOCs (massively open online courses), podcast interviews with customers and partners, and technical certification training. Local efforts within each department compliment this with instructor-led training on business writing, mindfulness, high-performance coaching, and more. Microsoft Teams is helping to further accelerate our learning through inclusive communication, collaboration and best practice sharing.

Individual Passion 

Great marketing happens when individuals are empowered. Thousands of people praised Microsoft’s Super Bowl 2019 commercial on social media and our CXC noted that it was among the most talked about Super Bowl ads and had the highest positive sentiment on Twitter. The ad tells the inspirational story of children who enjoy Xbox games with a little help from their friends, family and the Xbox Adaptive Controller — a product that was created by individuals at Microsoft who were passionate about making games more accessible. And on a local scale with a much smaller budget but no less meaningful: Members of our marketing team are engaging customers through the 2019 NY Metro Diversity & Inclusion Summit: A Guide to Allyship, an event that brings our customers and employees together to promote safe communities and diversity in the workplace. Harnessing individual passion is the key to operationalizing culture from a statement to a true common thread in everything we do.

As digital transformation ushers in profound changes to the marketing discipline, some might be asking how we can possibly keep up. Make no mistake: this is a journey rather than a destination. The answer is investing in a culture that embraces changes. It is more important than ever before as we enter an age of marketing where truly everything is possible!

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For more from Valerie Beaulieu’s, watch the webinar, How Microsoft is harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence  to empower marketing.