A Halesowen design and marketingfirm had a cheery start to the festive period when it was selected byMicrosoft to be part of its new business-focused publicity campaign.

Alkaline Design and Marketing,which only has one full-time member of staff, was selected by themultinational to appear in a short online video that will put thebusiness in the limelight.

Simon Washbrook, director of the firm, said being chosen by such a huge name was a major boost for the small business.

“It is an amazing opportunity to be partnering with Microsoft on this campaign,” he said.

“The campaign itself is trying toeducate people on how they can use software more effectively to helpbusinesses become more efficient.”

Mr Washbrook appears in thetwo-minute video on Microsoft’s website where he explains how he usesthe firm’s software as a marketing tool to keep in touch with hiscustomers.

“There are five companies whichhave been selected and we have been chosen to talk about how to retaincustomers by using marketing processes such as a customer relationshipmanagement (CRM) system and email to communicate with them on a regularbasis.”

Alkaline Design & Marketing –which also employs a part-time member of staff – was formed in 2005 bySimon Washbrook following a successful design and marketing career withseveral big firms.

Mr Washbrook said his companyinitially caught the attention of Microsoft when staff from thesoftware giant learnt that his design firm used PCs instead of the Macswhich are ubiquitous in the industry.

“I met Microsoft at a trade showjust over a year ago and I got talking about the fact we are a designagency and we only use only PCs, which originally got their interest,”he said.

“Then talking further they realised we used their software for CRM and for understanding what our customers do.

“That was picked up by the national marketing team for this campaign.”

Mr Washbrook said the past fewmonths had been difficult but the company, which focuses on providing adesign and marketing service for small businesses, was starting the newin a positive frame of mind.

“I suppose the key thing we havedone is kept positive – we have kept marketing and kept doing what weshould do and put ourselves in the right position,” he said.

Robert Epstein, head of SMBmarketing and sales, Microsoft UK said: “Microsoft is focused onhighlighting the benefits of technology at a local level.

“We were keen to profile companiesthat have proved that despite the past turbulent year, success andsatisfied customers can be a reality if you make the best use of thetechnology you own and invest wisely in technology for longer termgrowth.”