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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 23, 2008 at 5:14 PM

Notes from an interview with the new Windows Mobile exec

Microsoft said Tuesday that it has hired former Staples exec Todd Peters to head up its Mobile Communications Business as corporate vice president of marketing.

Today I had a few minutes to chat with him about his new role.

He will be responsible for marketing surrounding Windows Live and Windows Mobile, and for coming up with messaging that will highlight how the two are great not only for the enterprise, but for consumers, too.

He said that it’s not good enough to come up with a compelling advertising campaign — the products have to live up to the promise.

I think the most compelling branding strategy starts upstream. I think it’s critical in making the value proposition or promise true. Understanding the products and the services and the roadmap, and coupling that with the branding strategy, allows you to go to market with a seamless story.

To try to solve the problem with an advertising campaign is a short-lived approach. It’s not sustainable. Eventually the customer knows it’s not a deeply engrained belief. I really take a holistic approach to the challenge with tight alignment with branding and product strategy.

The big question is whether Peters will have the authority, or control, over the two groups to do it.

One that point, he said: “I’m sure like anywhere else, I’ll have to earn it.”

Peters said he sees similarities between Staples and Microsoft.

Both are Fortune 500 companies that have “cross-functional teams.” But he also added that when he got to Staples, one of the biggest problems was that consumers didn’t perceive a difference between it and the competition. He said the biggest thing it had going was that its name didn’t start with Office (unlike Office Depot and OfficeMax).

“We felt that it wasn’t profitable to be interchangeable. The road to great profitability was to be truly differentiated,” he said.

One way that value may manifest itself at Microsoft is to have customers demanding Windows Mobile when they enter a store.

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