From indirect to direct player.
Microsoft Business used to operate indirectly in their market, always selling their software through a vendor. That changed with the launch of their Azure Cloud Platform: their direct-to-business solution. The Azure platform offers more than 200 products to help you build, run, and manage applications with the tools and frameworks of your choice across multiple clouds.
This switch posed a significant challenge for the organization. "We wanted to grow faster than we already did, and therefore we needed to know about our customers so we could respond better to their needs." says Niels Lohuis, Azure Direct & Channel Business Lead.
Three clear customer profiles.
Microsoft’s business customers are companies of all kinds and sizes. From large multinationals to fresh, young startups. All of them are trying to build and grow their business work in a rapidly changing world.
After our customer research, we identified three customer segments: (1) entrepreneurs who embraced new technologies as a way to improve their business, (2) entrepreneurs who were hesitant to change, and (3) developers.
Lohuis: “All our customers need technological innovation and support in different areas. In order to get a better understanding of their daily reality, we used the Value Proposition Canvas to create customer profiles and validated our assumptions in customer interviews. It was amazing to see how many new insights we got from talking to our customers. With these segments in mind, we designed customer journeys and created various campaigns to engage with new found audience. "
You don't make big decisions based on small insights.
Short-cycle campaigns. Long lasting impact.
Together with Lohuis we set-up a new way of working for him and his team to design, build and run campaigns. Rather than going big and bold, we decided to go short and sweet. In bi-weekly experiments, we would define the campaign message, select the channel and go live with the content.
Lohuis: “During the creation of the campaign, the Graphic Game Plans really helped us. We determined the details of our campaign and defined what success would look like. Then we outlined what was needed for that success. Once the first content was published, testing and validation could begin.”
After two weeks the team would rejoin and discuss the results of the campaign.
Lohuis: “By getting in touch with our customers, both online and offline, we got so many new insights that helped us optimize our campaigns super-efficiently. Data showed that developers were not interested in our general Azure story but loved the content about how specific Azure services could help them speed up their work. Every sprint would lead to more insights and better campaigns. And we got the result to show for it. Our customer base grew twice as fast as our main competitors Google and Amazon."
By setting up this continuous flow of content creation and validation the team was able to capture the attention of their audience. As a result, the customer base grew 2x in comparison to their main competitors Google and AWS.
“We worked with Business Models Inc. because of their visual way of working and their understanding of customer value. The design approach really changed the way of working at Microsoft. We have become much better in understanding our customers, validating assumptions, and applying learnings directly in our work.”
Niels Lohuis, Azure Direct & Channel Business Lead.