Learn How to Create a Killer Online Magazine from Microsoft

If you think of Microsoft as just a technology company, you haven’t been paying attention to their skill in content marketing.

Microsoft Home 12-13 Front Page We all know that Microsoft dominates the world of computer software.  If you’re a small business person, you may also know that they provide great content online–everything from useful templates and how to use to webcast that help you do a better job of running your business. 

You may not know that in Canada they have created a wonderful online publication, Microsoft Home Magazine.  This is a superb example of identifying target audience.  In this case, they are delivering a rich blend of information to folks who love to use technology to achieve a home life that’s rich and enjoyable.  We examine what they’re doing so you can apply similar content marketing techniques to your online efforts.

microsoft home cat pic Although the subtext involves the use of Microsoft products, the information that Microsoft Home Magazine provides is inherently useful.  In fact, much of the content has nothing to do with Microsoft products at all. 

For example, a fun article in the current issue involves learning how to take great pictures of your pets.  Although Microsoft certainly hopes that you will ultimately use their software to process your digital photographs, the article is all about pets and photography–not about software.


Interactive videos and more

microsoft home video baby A new feature on the site are interactive videos would show viewers how to make use of their PCs do things as diverse as scrap booking and using a web cam. As they put it:

When it comes to your computer, sometimes learning about how it works or how it can help in your everyday life is easier when you can see it for yourself. That’s why we created these short, interactive videos — to inspire you to try something new by showing you how to do it.

Each video also includes related articles, tips, free downloads and other resources.  For example, the web cam video has links to resources about how digital camera works, hobbies and instant messaging, and using the VOIP technology to talk on the phone.  Of course, they cleverly add the opportunity to download Microsoft products–although many of these are free from the new “Live” series of online software tools.

Family-friendly eNewsletter

Microsoft Home newsletter A fun eNewsletter is available from the site.  Each newsletter has a theme from summer vacation to getting ready for winter.  Again, the content of the newsletters is carefully targeted toward family related topics.  In their June newsletter, it was all about vacation and have a great time no matter where you might want to go in Canada.  The newsletter offered:

  • a guide to researching parks across the country.
  • planning a landmark Road trip
  • Planning a cottage getaway online
  • Navigating an RV adventure
  • Vacationing for cause

Just to repeat: none of this content had anything to do with Microsoft. It’s all about helping their targeted customers to have a great time on vacation.

What’s amazing about this content marketing effort is that it presents a completely different picture of this enormous software giant.  It’s not about geeky operating systems and challenging software applications.  It’s not about why Vista  is a wonderful operating system.  it’s not about using Excel to create pivot tables. It’s about home and family. 

Microsoft Home Magazine talks about technology only in the context of how it will benefit your home and family life.  Although I’m sure some dads look at it, it’s clearly aimed at a female audience.  As far as I know, that makes Microsoft unique among technology purveyors. This site is a winner. 

What to learn from Microsoft Home Magazine

We can all learn once again from the very clear target Microsoft has chosen– that it’s essential to understand your customers–and to deliver content that is relevant to them.  You may not have Microsoft’s budget but you can find an affordable way to cook up content that resonates with your most important prospects.  Content marketing is much more about changing how you think than it is about spending a lot of money. Creativity rather than money goes a long way as you can see in a related article about how Ann Porter, an entrepreneurial Naples kitchen designer uses the web effectively. click here to read about how Ann does it for almost no money at all. 

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