By any definition of the word, the Microsoft brand is an innovator. If you’re looking to be inspired by their imaginative event marketing, check out these great examples, complete with actionable takeaways for your next planned live experience.
According to the Event Marketing 2019: Benchmarks and Trends report, roughly 84% of senior leadership believe in-person events are a fundamental contributor to their company’s success. It’s clear that Microsoft also holds this belief. Even though their products are mostly digital, Microsoft’s live events show just how dedicated the brand is to connecting with customers and partners face-to-face.
The Growth of the Microsoft Company and Event Brand
Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1976. The story of these two childhood friends and school dropouts have inspired thousands of wannabe tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. A quintessential bootstrap-to-billionaire American dream narrative (well-loved by those who believe some combination of hard work, talent, and ingenuity creates the foundation for success), is still very much woven into the fabric of the brand we know today.
And much like its humble beginnings, Microsoft’s event marketing brand has become well known for their ability to inspire and connect us to other talented, driven, and like-minded individuals. Above all else, Microsoft’s events all share one common theme: anyone can succeed with a little help from the right people and the right tools.
So without further ado, here are a dozen fantastic examples of Microsoft’s best live get-togethers and how you can use each corporate event idea when planning your next function.
12 Microsoft Event Marketing Examples
Microsoft Ignite is a choose-your-own-adventure type of experience. Attendees can cherry pick their favorite activities, choosing from a selection of expert keynotes, skill-building workshops, and hands-on demos. If you didn’t get to attend last year’s event, don’t worry. They offer on-demand session videos for free on their website.
Key Takeaway: Customization is key. Let your attendees follow their passions by offering an array of high-quality options with the freedom and flexibility to create their own experience.
Microsoft Build is a developer conference aimed at tech professionals interested in experiencing the latest technologies as well as imagining new ways to create solutions. This imaginative event branding example heavily emphasizes the opportunity attendees have to connect with their community. Sharing new trends, comparing innovative codes, and building relationships are just a few of the selling points at this Microsoft event.
Key Takeaway: At the end of the day, live events are all about connecting with other people. Find ways to facilitate networking and genuine human connection before, during, and after your event.
Source: Microsoft Partner Network
Microsoft Inspire’s tagline says it all: “together, we achieve more”. In addition to its focus on community-building, Inspire does a great job of being transparent in regards to their growth. Their 2019 event page repeatedly showcases all the ways in which Inspire will be even better this year than any other year before. They name additional social blocks, simplified schedules, more organized housing arrangements, and a centralized meeting location as just some of the improvements attendees can look forward to.
Key Takeaway: Attendees appreciate it when you share all the ways in which your event has improved from past versions. Honest communication and direct application of feedback from former attendees helps build trust among your audience and is a great B2B event marketing strategy.
Microsoft DevDays is a conference hosted just before Build that will give attendees a little extra taste of what they can look forward to at the main event. This mini-conference was immediately so successful that they had to expand it into its own full-fledged event. Attendees get to interact directly with the engineers and project managers responsible for creating Microsoft’s best-selling products.
Key Takeaway: Complimentary add-on events before, during, or after your main attraction are a creative way to touch on subjects or include experiences you don’t normally have time for in your primary schedule. Plus, if it’s as successful as Microsoft DevDays, it might even turn into a standalone event all on its own.
Source: LinkedIn Business Solutions
Three exciting days of back-to-back speakers, networking events, and breakout sessions are what await the attendees of this year’s Microsoft partner event, LinkedIn Talent Connect. One of the more creative aspects of the summit is the guest list. Their extremely long guest list includes attendees from every stage of the employee lifecycle, in a collaborative and mutually beneficial environment.
Key Takeaway: If you already have a solid event idea, why not consider expanding your guest list? Marketing your event as being open to attendees with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and/or education levels will bring in a whole new audience for your live events.
Source: Samantha 365
This year the Microsoft Innovation Summit will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia. Attendees will get to, in Microsoft’s words, ask the tough questions they’ve always wanted to ask and have them answered by industry experts. One of the standout features of this summit experience is their roadmap benefit. Each organization receives a personalized roadmap for transformative success based on their business’s specific needs and wants.
Key Takeaway: Great corporate event management considers ways to add personal touches to any gathering. Whether it’s a customized business plan or a free 15-minute coaching session with an industry expert, getting one-on-one attention is a highly effective selling point.
Skype, a Microsoft property, held an ingenious experiential marketing event in New York City. The brand partnered with Toshiba to bring its #smilestation to life. Participants stood in front of an impressive display, featuring live video chat with some friendly faces located in London who told them corny jokes and had an all around good time. Afterward, they were treated to free Toshiba tablets, which they could use to keep in touch with others who make them smile such as parents and spouses.
Key Takeaway: Strategic partnerships can help bring the spirit of all event types to life. Complimentary products and services offered by other brands can help event planners add that extra special something to any live experience.
Source: The INQUIRER
If you’ve ever visited GitHub’s website for their Universe event, you’ll notice one thing for sure — there’s almost nothing there. The clean design offers all the essentials you’d hope to find on an event website landing page, but the minimalist style does a great job of guiding users towards their ticketing page. If you choose to check out last year’s event, a more detailed site comes up with options to explore programs, workshops, speakers, and some other key event features.
Key Takeaway: Imaginative events require great marketing for success. Be like GitHub and remove all the obstacles website users usually experience when buying event tickets.
GDC Women in Gaming Rally Puts Spotlight on Inclusion, Accessibility in Industry https://t.co/3zXTfxTVHE
— Variety (@Variety) 20 March 2019
Xbox, one of the world’s most successful gaming brands, is another Microsoft product that is succeeding in the event marketing space. In its nearly two decades, Xbox’s Annual Women in Gaming Rally has become an excellent example of inclusivity for the industry. Panels, mixers, and career advancement education are all offered at this community-focused event.
Key Takeaway: Being a leader is about more than just coming up with great ideas. It also means giving underrepresented groups a leg up whenever possible. Follow in Xbox’s footsteps by hosting an event that acknowledges and addresses challenges that specific demographics of your user base might be facing.
Produced in partnership with DEVIntersection, the Microsoft Azure + AI Conference is yet another imaginative take on the standard speaker/session/workshop event format. The conference is centered around artificial intelligence (AI) and all the ways in which Azure can give its users a competitive advantage. In addition to their very cool subject matter, they also offer some innovative ticketing options. They offer early bird specials with your choice of free gift (including one of their latest Xbox models). You can also choose to add on pre or post-conference workshops.
Key Takeaway: Expand your ticketing options with bonus incentives and activities. This is especially helpful if there are competitive events happening at the same time as it will help influence attendees to choose yours.
One of Microsoft’s more intimate events, the Cloud Workshop is an example of how impactful any event can be, regardless of its size. In addition to being a product demo, the Cloud Workshop gives in-depth tutorials on how to maximize the program’s benefits. The event also works to help address individual questions and work with users to find out what customizations they need for their businesses.
Key Takeaway: Even if your brand isn’t ready to host a huge conference, concentrated workshops or events like this one can still provide plenty of value to your audience and produce positive event ROI.
Demo-rich sessions, vibrant community, and one-on-one workshops with industry experts are just some of the benefits of attending the Microsoft Business Applications Summit. In addition to hosting the event live, Microsoft also offers over 200+ keynote videos from last year’s summit. The recordings are high quality and searchable by business focus, job focus, products, and track.
Key Takeaway: Repurpose all your live events by adding video to your event strategy. Offering video event recaps online allow past attendees the chance to review what they experienced. It can also influence prospects who haven’t been to your event before to buy tickets for next year. Or, at the very least, the content can be used for other brand marketing efforts.
Main Ideas: Imaginative Event Marketing
Microsoft is great at event marketing. And by studying examples like these, your event planning skills will continue to improve with every new project you take on. Here are some things to keep in mind for your next special occasion:
- It’s all about relationships. A common theme among all of Microsoft’s events is community. Community is created when like-minded people join together to collaborate, learn, and share their skills. But it’s not enough to just invite people to your event. Make sure you include plenty of ways for them to meet and get to know each other in genuine and authentic ways.
- The little things matter. Details like personalized business plans, one-on-one sessions, and streamlined website user experiences make a good event truly great. Follow in Microsoft’s footsteps by paying attention to detail. Always plan your event from an attendee’s point of view to figure out what conveniences and upgrades they might be interested in. Event software can really help with this.
- Always prioritize experience. Microsoft makes sure their events are just as easy to navigate as their technology. They are also open about looking for new and improved ways to make their events better for future attendees. Whether it’s interesting add-on events or making space at the table for underrepresented groups, prioritizing experience is one of the most basic yet effective ways to ensure your event truly stands out.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep in mind when planning your own imaginative event is that people will always appreciate the opportunity for genuine human connection. As long as you care about your attendees the way we know you do, you’re pretty much guaranteed a successful event planning process!