Microsoft Takes a Page From the Singer Playbook

Knit blogger Pdxknitterati writes today about an old Singer miniature toy sewing machine that she encountered recently at her mother’s house. From about 1926 into the 50’s, Singer marketed these to little girls. They likely made a little money on each toy sewing machine. More important, Singer established the Singer brand early with these girls, and made a lot of money when they grew up and bought full-size Singers for themselves.

Microsoft is likely to get similar results from a new program they’ve established with the  Employment Department in my home state of Oregon. Under the Elevate America program — which is also operating in other states — Microsoft will give out 16,000 vouchers good for free online training in the programs of the Microsoft Office Suite. To be eligible, recipients must have been unemployed for 45 days or longer.

Here’s the beauty of this program: not only is it genuinely helpful, but it also gives Microsoft the opportunity to use three of Robert Cialdini’s six “Weapons of Influence”:

  • Authority: Microsoft’s products get an implicit endorsement from the Employment Department, and the Governor
  • Social Proof: people will be more inclined to do something — like buying Microsoft software instead of using, say, Google Docs — if they see other people doing it
  • Reciprocity: when these people re-enter the work force, they will feel a debt of gratitude to Microsoft. If any of them wind up having responsibility over purchasing, Microsoft has the inside track.

Like the girls who learned to sew on Singer machines, there are 16,000 Oregonians who will be most comfortable with Microsoft Office when they get jobs again. So Microsoft isn’t just doing good — they’re going to do well.


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