By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Aimee Mann's Whatever:
Our friends from Redmond, the good folks at Microsoft, are addressing widespread customer frustration with the complexity of security products in a new integrated marketing campaign launched today called "Easy, Easier."
The Microsoft Forefront line of business security products is featured in a campaign that combines print and online advertising, a creative Web experience, integrated customer relationship marketing (CRM) and public relations.
The campaign uses humorous metaphors to illustrate how defending against security threats with Forefront is easier than defending against virtually anything else -- including far-fetched threats from aliens, ninjas and zombies.
Hey easy's great, but users would probably be really impressed by a Microsoft security product improving on the company's dismal effectiveness record. In early March industry observer Mark Hachman noted that AV-Comparatives.org, "a group of IT graduate students who have published formal analyses of antivirus tools since February 2004," tested the current batch of products and "placed Microsoft's OneCare anti-virus solution squarely at the bottom of the list."
"In each of three categories," viruses, macros, worms and scripts, Hachman wrote, backdoors, Trojans and other malware, and a third category, combining the results of the first two, "OneCare received the worst score out of 17 products tested." In fact, it did so poorly that, as industry observer Paul Thurrott noted, "OneCare Live 1.5 was the only security product not to be certified by the Web site." But hey, the humorous metaphors had 'em rolling.
The goal of this campaign, created by McCann Worldgroup San Francisco, is to emphasize Microsoft's competitive differentiation in making security products easier to deploy, implement and manage.
"We wanted to connect with the customer in a new and different way," said Rob Bagot, executive vice president and executive creative director at McCann Worldgroup San Francisco. "By using humor in a relevant fashion, we can engage and inform IT professionals at the same time."
Humor is also revered among advertisers for its ability to make people sort of, well, forget about a lot of things. And accomplished admen McCann Worldgroup know their stuff -- "feedback from customers worldwide indicated that many enjoyed the fact that Microsoft was using IT-relevant humor as an entry point into a serious conversation on security," Microsoft officials pointed out.
"The approach was seen as highly engaging and standing out from the typical marketing in the security category," one Microsoft official noted, and First Coffee has to agree, given the recent study, Microsoft does, uh, stand out rather prominently in the security category.
"I like that it was original and entertaining. It was very clever, eye- catching and memorable, which makes you want to learn more about Forefront," said "an IT professional" cited by Microsoft as one "who participated in a focus group about the ads."
No word on whether the same guy was as impressed with Microsoft's distinctly less entertaining overall security record.
Microsoft says the ad campaign features "real customer stories from leading global organizations such as the Vienna International Airport, SAS, and Cable & Wireless, which illustrate how Forefront products have helped customers easily enhance the security of their infrastructure and simplify the reporting and management of their security products."
"We've heard loud and clear from business customers that security products not only need to provide the greatest level of protection but also must be easy to manage and integrate with existing infrastructure. This ease of use is one of the key competitive differentiators that Microsoft brings to the market with its Forefront security products," said Steve Brown, director of product management for security and access product management at Microsoft.
And leave 'em laughing.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that the technology gained in Salesforce.com Inc.'s recent acquisition of start-up Koral Inc., "will be used in a new service to help customers' employees find and manage documents and other content."
Terms of the acquisition, to be formally announced today, weren't disclosed, the Journal noted: "The new service is designed to make it easier for employees to find and share files such as text documents, videos and presentations."
Reuters tech reporter Michael Kahn cited AMR Research analyst Jim Murphy as saying the Salesforce product "would likely appeal to existing customers or businesses looking to get software over the Internet," in Kahn's words. Murphy questioned the impact on Microsoft, saying SharePoint has established itself after grabbing share from smaller players in the past few years. Murphy told Kahn any claims of it being a SharePoint killer are "overly aggressive."
Industry observer Alexei Oreskovic says Salesforce's concept of the value of the new service, titled ContentExchange, is "its ability to interconnect so-called unstructured content, anything from e-mail messages to Powerpoint presentations. Employees can tag their documents with various labels, descriptions and ratings that make it easy for other workers to retrieve the information."
Oreskovic quotes Bruce Francis, Salesforce.com's vice president of corporate strategy as saying "for the first time we are planning to deliver an application that will touch every corner of the enterprise. And that's a big change for us."
Customer Connect Associates has hired Michelle Seamster as CRM Consultant, with responsibility for CRM implementation, database development, web development, and data analysis, company officials say. Seamster comes to Customer Connect from Huber Engineered Woods, where she worked as an application developer and CRM analyst.
With a BBA in Marketing, Michelle worked for Huber, both in North Carolina and in Virginia, from 1996 until this year. Huber is a client of Customer Connect.
In related news, the Cornelius, North Carolina-based CRM consulting firm has added three new partners to the list of firms that will collaborate on their "People Ready CRM" event, called an informative "deminar" -- a combination seminar and product demonstration -- at the Charlotte, NC Microsoft offices on April 24.
Along with Microsoft and the Sales Leadership Council, Customer Connect will cooperate with Pervasive Software, ettain group -- First Coffee's getting slightly irked with this e.e. cummingsization of brand names, just use capitals, kids, come on -- and Professional Network Consultants.
Founded in 2000, Customer Connect Associates sells their LUCK process for "creating more profitable relationships." Clients include Travelocity, SAS, LandAmerica, AMF, BB&T, Fairfield Resorts and AAA.
FYI: Creston plc, a British publicly traded marketing services holding company, has officially entered the United States market with the appointment of Steve Blamer as Chief Executive Officer of Creston plc US Holdings Inc.
Creston offers a range of services spanning advertising, public relations, digital marketing, market research, direct marketing and customer relationship marketing (CRM), among many others.
Blamer is charged with identifying similar leading acquisition targets in the U.S., specifically high-growth businesses with established top tier client lists.
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