Microsoft's Strategy for Small Businesses (A): The Innovative PR Campaign for MS Office Accounting 2007

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

Case Details:


Case Code : MKTG167 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 400;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 400 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Marketing Management/ Marketing Communications/ Public Relations
Case Length : 20 Pages
Period : 2005-2007
Pub Date : 2007
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Microsoft Corporation
Industry : Computers and Information Technology
Countries : Europe, USA


This case is about the innovative public relations campaign initiated by Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) for its MS Office Accounting Express software - MS Office Accounting Express 2007 (OAE 2007) and MS Office Accounting Professional 2007 (OAP 2007), which were targeted at small and medium businesses (SMBs).

As part of its pull strategy, Microsoft organized a contest called 'IdeaWins - The Ultimate Challenge' targeted at entrepreneurs and small business owners in the US. Microsoft attracted its target customers to the contest website, where in the contestants could submit their innovative business idea.

The winner of the campaign would receive a US$100,000 cash prize as start-up capital and other related support from Microsoft and its partners to implement the winning business idea. Microsoft also gave away OAE 2007 as a free download on the website. The campaign generated a lot of buzz among the target audience and succeeded in the publicity of OAE 2007 and OAP 2007.

The case discusses the accounting software market for SMBs as well as the competitive landscape in this segment. The case also looks at the reasons for Microsoft's strategic shift toward providing Internet-based software and services and its growing competition with Internet-based firms such as Google, Inc., and Yahoo!, Inc.


Understand the issues and challenges faced by IT companies in targeting the small and medium businesses market

Understand the need for innovative marketing strategies to attract the attention of customers spread across different industry verticals and geographic regions

Appreciate the role of PR campaigns in creating credibility for the launch of a new product

Understand the issues and challenges faced by a mature business organization to keep itself abreast of the changes in a dynamic and competitive business environment


  Page No.
An Innovative Campaign Targeting Small Businesses 1
Background Note 3
Microsoft - Making a Fundamental Shift 4
The Big Battle for the Small Business Account 5
MS Office Accounting 2007 7
Ideawins: The Ultimate Challenge 9
Reactions to the Campaign 12
Outlook 13
Exhibits 14


Public relations, Microsoft Corporation, IdeaWins - The Ultimate Challenge, Google, Intuit Quickbooks, Information Technology, Small business, Strategy , Internet-based software, Unique selling proposition , Strategic shift, Buzz marketing, Loss leader strategy, Pull strategy, Branding , Search marketing, Innovation contest, Business model, Target marketing, Microsoft Office Accounting Express

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