What is “Marketing” at Microsoft?

So I thought I would start off explaining a little bit about what is considered marketing here at Microsoft. I'm not really sure how we came to know a number of business functions as marketing, but it is what it is (or kind of is what  it kind of is). There are gray areas that I probably don't have enough space to debate here (actually, I probably do later...are you interested?)...like technical evangelism. Hybrid roles that require a focus on not only core marketing talent but also deep hands-on technical expertise. That's for later. For now, let me explain what we know of as marketing here at Microsoft.

So I think of marketing as how we connect to our customers, whether it's through partners, advertising, online. That's the outbound side...the marketing communication and go-to-market strategies, the partner relationships. A big piece of the marketing pie here at Microsoft is inbound. Everything from product feature strategy, business development that focuses on build-buy-license decisions, market research. There are so many varied activities that we call marketing here. Let me just highlight some of the big ones I see first. Think of a marketing position at Microsoft as a recipe. These are some of the ingredients...

Product Management

Lots of flavors of product management here at Microsoft. This is defining the product road map, working with development and program management to implement. Identifying and evangelizing customer scenarios, pushing those customer needs into our product planning process. Owning product go-to-market strategy, working with marketing experts by segment or audience to roll it out. Acting as a spokesperson at trade shows, events, working with sales on customer engagements. In MBA language, Product Management means owning the “4 Ps“

Product Planning

People involved in product planning at Microsoft focus on competitive feature sets for products or subsets of products. They may conduct primary or secondary market research (often in conjunction with our Corporate Market Research Team). Planners get in the trenches with devs and program managers, evangelizing customer needs, serving as customer segment experts. People involved in product planning at Microsoft bring some good technical expertise to the table.

Market Analysis

Delivering ongoing analysis of markets, competition, customers to provide a detailed view of industry dynamics for product management and marketing. This type of analysis often drives the “go/no-go“ decision around products and markets (specifically looking at the market opportunity and our ability to deliver relative to competitors). Market research is another common activity for someone involved in this type of analysis. Market analysis and product planning often go hand-in hand. I see market analysis as the early stage work and product planning as how we deliver on our value proposition to customers by audience or segment.

Market Development

Once we've got the product, we need to have people in the market working with early adopters and turning the product into a business. Market development is how we build a place in the industry for a specific product. This means identifying early adopters, managing customer evidence and building community.

Business Development

Business development is a confusing category. The term is often used to  indicate sales functions. In the context of marketing at Microsoft, it's about 2 different things (you could make a case for more). One is driving the build-buy-license decision making for product technology strategy. This means everything from evaluating potential partners to business modeling to negotiation of the deal. The other type of business development I see often at Microsoft is more focused on channel partners...ISVs, SIs, etc. Some of that work is about identifying strategic opportunities with partners, some of it is managing relationships.

Marketing Management

This is what I think most people think of when you use the term “marketing“. At Microsoft, it's owning the implementation of of marketing and promotion strategies, working with product groups and our Central Marketing Group. This involves delivering messaging frameworks (value proposition. customer segmentation, etc.) and programs specific to products, services, customer segments, channel partners, etc. I would put direct marketing and CRM in this category as well.

I'll get more into the specialist areas of Brand Management, Pricing and Licensing, PR/AR, Advertising, Packaging, Market Research and Event Management soon. I'll also get on my soapbox and talk about the value of both strategy AND execution here. I can also give you some examples of how all these marketing ingredients make up different kinds of roles here at Microsoft. Want to know about a specific type of role or marketing area here? Ask!



Comments (7)

  1. Very helpful. I definitely know it’s not Gretchen and Zoe I’ll be talking to if I ever decide to work at Microsoft, as from what I can tell I fall into a Product Management, Evangelist, Business Development kind of role.

    Helps a lot, thanks again!

  2. Anonymous says:

    JOhn Porcaro, Product Planning and Marketing at Microsoft

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. I figured out why it has been taking me so long to get to this post. I think a dev at Microsoft is relatively

  5. I figured out why it has been taking me so long to get to this post. I think a dev at Microsoft is relatively simple to explain and seems to map to other companies that have this same role. When it comes to the Program Management (PM) position though,

  6. I figured out why it has been taking me so long to get to this post. I think a dev at Microsoft is relatively simple to explain and seems to map to other companies that have this same role. When it comes to the Program Management (PM) position though,

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