Constant Contact to Hold SMB Marketing Seminars in Microsoft Stores

Constant Contact logoEarlier today Constant Contact announced a partnership with Microsoft to hold marketing seminars in local Microsoft Stores around the US. These joint sessions, which have been going on more informally for the past couple of years, are intended to teach small businesses best practices about online marketing.

Both Constant Contact and Microsoft present during the seminars. They’re free and, I was assured by Constant Contact’s senior director of local success Richard Israel, that they’re not just thinly veiled sales pitches. He told me these sessions have great net promoter scores and word of mouth.

I questioned whether the presentations were truly objective and reflected the market as it exists today (Google’s position in search; Apple and Google’s dominance of mobile). I was assured that things aren’t being distorted or misrepresented.

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In September, Constant Contact announced a similar relationship with Staples. Between the two retailers, Constant Contact will have local seminars in roughly 80 store locations around the country by Q4 of this year. The frequency is currently monthly but that could increase depending on SMB demand.

These efforts are part of a larger offline push by Constant Contact to educate SMBs about email best practices and other forms of online marketing (as an indirect method of selling and brand building). In various forms these local, offline educational seminars have been going on for the past seven years.

The Constant Contact portion of the seminars are lead by “local small business marketing experts” (contractors around the country).

I was told that no money is changing hands between Microsoft and Constant Contact. I’m sure that Constant Contact gains new customers from these seminars but it’s not clear whether there’s a solid ROI. Constant Contact’s Richard Israel believed that there is.

Regardless, Israel said that they believe none of their competitors is doing anything like this.

This was precisely the type of thing that, years ago, I thought Google should be doing to educate SMBs. The company has sporadically done local seminars but nothing sustained. Yelp is starting to do some as well, though not as systematically or as formally as Constant Contact.

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2 Responses to “Constant Contact to Hold SMB Marketing Seminars in Microsoft Stores”

  1. Street Fight Daily: Patch De-Staffs Sites, BrandNetworks Acquires Optimal | Street Fight says at

    […] Contact to Hold SMB Marketing Seminars in Microsoft Stores (Screenwerk) Earlier today Constant Contact announced a partnership with Microsoft to hold marketing seminars […]

  2. Rich Hargrave says at

    Fantastic idea – the SMB market is more than ready for this! In fact, I’ve found that these events are already starting to experience some overkill in major metros (hibu’s been doing local-search seminars for four years now). SMB’s are hungery for the knowledge – but I think there’s also a balance between the free education aspect to this, and driving sales. I wonder how hard Constant Contact will be pushing their (or Microsoft) solutions?

  3. Greg Sterling says at

    I suspect that MSFT pushes its stuff pretty hard. But CC told me they were delivering “objective” information. I suspect at the center of their marketing advice is email and their solution. 

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