Passions of a Microsoft Marketer – Where Tech, Teaching and Sports Intersect

Part of a new blog series featuring "Real Moments with Marketers"

June 16, 2015

Editor's Note: This post is part of our Customer Blog Series—Real Moments with Marketers—where we interview leading marketers about how they got their start in this field, their biggest successes and challenges at work and in life, and what gets them up in the morning.

This week, we sat down with Ari Schorr a product marketing leader on the OneNote team at Microsoft, where they use LinkedIn as an effective resource to reach the education sector. He is incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about using technology for productivity and, ultimately, success. Read on to discover what Ari thinks about technology’s role in education, how he uses LinkedIn to engage teachers, and how sports and teaching transcend industries.

Q&A with Ari Schorr, Product Marketing Leader, OneNoteAri Schorr

LinkedIn: What one word would describe you as a marketer?

Ari: Hands-on! I like to be in the middle of things – I’m not a huge fan of sitting in my office every day. Since I joined Microsoft, I’ve been in roles that have allowed me to travel around the world and talk about products and features. I’m a technical product marketer, and I get to be the subject matter expert on the product and define the messaging. For example, my favorite team is the Seattle Seahawks, and I could go to their office and train them on how to use OneNote and be more productive with technology. How cool is that?

LinkedIn: You know you’re talking to 49ers fans in the Bay Area, right?! Moving on – why did you get into marketing?

Ari: (laughs) I wanted to get into sports management, and after speaking to the owner of the Seattle Mariners for guidance, he advised me to attend a good undergraduate school and go to law school afterward. I went to University of Michigan for undergrad in the business school. From there, marketing involved everything I enjoy – talking to people, messaging, positioning, and not necessarily crunching the numbers. I hated accounting and finance.

LinkedIn: Where were you and how old were you when your marketing light bulb switched on?

Ari: I didn’t know what I’d be interested in at first. Education has always been intriguing as a field that impacts everyone’s lives in some way or another, and OneNote is a product I used at Michigan. I didn’t understand why everyone wasn’t using it. I had an affinity for it as an end-user, but OneNote also drew me in as a product that could work in the office. We had great engineering investment and a great product that we weren’t marketing well, and now we’re growing, and I’m super excited about the space.

LinkedIn: Are you doing what you want to be doing?

It’s the perfect storm — my role right now is exactly what I want to be doing at Microsoft. I’m on the cusp of something big with OneNote, and the company cares so much about education right now. When Microsoft says it’s going to invest in something, they’re really going to go big. I’m happy to be working on a product that is changing the world.

LinkedIn: To add to that, what else excites you about your job?

Ari: What excites me the most is walking into a classroom and seeing how students and teachers are using our technology. When a student says, “It helps me keep up in class, and I can’t do work without it,” that’s the reason I do my job at the end of the day.

LinkedIn: With that said, what are you using LinkedIn for?

Ari: Personally, I got started with LinkedIn as a tool when I was looking for jobs in college. When I got to Microsoft, I was thinking about ways to target a specific audience and role – teachers. I defaulted with LinkedIn to reach that specific audience. I saw a presentation from the LinkedIn sales team, and it confirmed my feelings. Aside from that, we knew we could use LinkedIn Sponsored Updates to promote blogs, case studies, etc. It’s a good way to deliver content to that specific audience.

LinkedIn: And what was your measurement for success?

Ari: Engagement on the site and engagement on the posts. We saw high click-through rates; imagery and messaging were working. In many ways it was an experiment on our part – was LinkedIn a way to reach educators? The answer was yes, LinkedIn is a huge channel for those audiences. The main thing we learned is how to leverage this and message to teachers across channels.

LinkedIn: If you weren’t in marketing, what would your dream job be?

Ari: I think I’d be a teacher. I like to be a subject matter expert, and I like to influence people. I used to want to be a sports broadcaster because I was so passionate about sharing stories and information. You become the voice in the booth, and teachers do that in the classroom. Being a teacher would allow me to do these things and have an impact on kids’ lives. How can we help students be successful in the 21st century? By teaching them how to implement technology for productivity rather than distraction.

For more information on how Microsoft’s OneNote team used LinkedIn to break into the education audience, watch the video below and check out the case study.

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