Microsoft Rallies Team With 90,000+ Free Windows Phone 7

in Branding Digital Marketing Strategy & Trends | by Ethan Lyon

Microsoft recently announced its attempts to turn employees into evangelists by giving away 90,000+ of its latest mobile device, Windows Phone 7. Microsoft’s brand advocacy strategy might not help generate revenues in the short-term (90,000+ phones comes with a hefty price tag), but could energize employee enthusiasm for the company for long-term gains.

Already, employees are excited about the phone giveaway and evangelizing the brand, judging by their Tweets: “All Microsoft employees get a free Windows Phone at Launch” tweets @ChicagoLori. Of course, Windows Phone 7 handouts will be determined on the market, service providers, etc, but it is generating significant buzz in and around the company.

Using Microsoft’s brand advocacy strategy, how you can utilize brand advocacy programs to dial team enthusiasm to 11?

Immersive, Positive Brand Experience — In today’s social and business lives, we need to be tethered to our phone. And as Microsoft employees will live and breathe the device (think immersive brand experience), it cannot be riddled with bugs. The brand experience has to reflect the positive aspects of the brand.

Value of Free — Microsoft is doing right by its employees by giving away expensive smart phones. And who doesn’t like free? In fact, consumers will interact with more brands if there is a discount or free prize at the end of the stick. Nearly 70 percent of consumers want discounts in e-mail marketing messages, reports eMarketer. In times when consumers are trimming budgets, offering a free Windows Phone 7 eliminates the need of a smartphone upgrade.

Open Feedback Loop — It isn’t clear whether Microsoft will have an open feedback loop to further improve Windows Phone 7. Regardless, feedback loops allow employees / consumers to invest in the product, service and brand, while enhancing the long-term functionality of the product. Instead of a handful of engineers’ feedback, Microsoft will have access to 90,000+ perspectives.

Unified Employees — “What do you think of the new Windows Phone 7?” should dominate water-cooler conversations around Microsoft for quite some time after the mass giveaway. The Windows Phone 7 giveaway will direct employee conversations towards the brand.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 giveaway in theory is a fantastic brand advocacy strategy to build employee pride in the overall success of the company. How can your company dial-up its brand advocacy programs? Here are several brand advocacy program applications beyond Microsoft to help spur ideas for your unique situation:

  • Retail: Give a gift certificate every week for employees that exceed target goals
  • Auto: Every month the number one salesperson gets the opportunity to drive whatever car they’d like for that month, for free
  • Shoe Company: Every Christmas, every employee can gift 2 pairs of shoes to friends and family

Microsoft’s giveaway brand advocacy strategy worked for the company in its infant stages when it supplied schools with free computers. The thinking was school children would learn on a Microsoft machine and when they were in the market, would buy one. In essence, the brand paved a clear path to brand loyalty. The strategy worked for the consumer market then, let’s see if it will have similar success internally.