Microsoft Shows How Content Marketing in the Form of a Documentary Can Drive B2B Marketing Performance

An image featuring both New Belgium Brewing Company and F1 Lotus Team in terms of the products they develop (beer and motor vehicles respectively)
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An interesting piece on the Huffington Post website looks at how Microsoft was able to develop compelling video content marketing to promote its Microsoft Dynamics software. The organization partnered with many organizations to provide text and video content that offers proof of the value of the Dynamics software within different industries. This is not such a new approach, but a valuable one. What is interesting to look at relates to the output of one of these endeavors, a short documentary titled “Flavor & Fuel: a Story of Modern Craftsmanship” which has made the rounds at film festivals and won some awards. You can check out the trailer below:

For those unfamiliar with Microsoft Dynamics, it is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. CRM and ERP systems help organizations to collect, store, manage, and analyze large amounts of data in order to help optimize different business processes and functions. CRM and ERP software packages have become increasingly integral to the operations of large and small organizations.

Suffice it to say, CRM and ERP are very complex products that often come with a very hefty price tag and require significant commitment of resources for their proper implementation into an organization. The process of marketing and selling these products is very complex to say the least. If you want to show the value of a product of this type during initial stages of interaction with a customer you have to be able to win his/her attention and give him/her something worth continuing to pay attention to.

For a number of people learning more about the craft of brewing beer or building winning Formula 1 racecars is probably pretty fascinating. This might be the reason Microsoft, New Belgium Brewing Company, and Lotus F1 Team went one step further in developing a documentary that looks at how the brewer and the Formula 1 racecar designer both operate to pursue excellence in their products. Regardless of the reason, the end result has provided ample validation of the value of the concept.

As noted in the documentary and other videos produced by Microsoft, a big part of the success of both companies as they have grown can be attributed to their use of technology, and in particular Microsoft Dynamics, which enables them to operate more efficiently and precisely. There are a number of other videos produced by Microsoft online that showcase New Belgium Brewing Company and Lotus F1 Team, as well as videos that highlight companies in other industries that use Microsoft Dynamics to aid in their business operations.

The practice of building customer success stories and case studies to communicate the value of a product or service is a well-documented tactic in B2B marketing. That said, very few companies that we know have taken the approach of developing video based content marketing that could be presented at a film festival, and as an added bonus garner critical acclaim. That story in itself is sure to grab attention (it certainly caught our eye) and provide motivation for people to dig deeper into the related videos and other content created by Microsoft. Even if a viewer doesn’t fit the profile of a potential Microsoft Dynamics customer there’s still the potential that if they find the content interesting they will share it with others who might fit the profile of a potential Microsoft Dynamics customer.

For Microsoft, New Belgium Brewing Company, and Lotus F1 Team there is a lot of positive awareness and engagement that has come out of collaborating on the “Flavor and Fuel” documentary along with the other content that Microsoft has developed in collaboration with the two organizations. Steve Woodget, a Senior Product Marketing Manager with Microsoft who also happens to be the Creator, Executive Producer, Writer, and Executive Creative Director of the “Flavor and Fuel” documentary indicates as much. He notes that “The content was picked up by F1 and brewing communities and ultimately resulted in over forty percent increase in traffic being driven to the target site, seven times more actions, and three times more digital engagement.”

From a marketing management perspective here are some questions to consider:

  • As a product marketing manager for Microsoft how would you measure the value of the critical acclaims and awards that the documentary “Flavor and Fuel” has generated?
  • Do you believe that the development of this documentary for Microsoft has had an impact on how the brand is perceived? In what ways?
  • What considerations do you think should go into the decision to invest in the development of a documentary as a marketing tactic for a company?