Innovations are the Reason the 2017 Prospects International Forecast is so Bright!
Since taking EventFlow and LeadFlow to the streets, Prospects International has uncovered and provided its clients with more piano interest leads than any single entity in the history of the piano industry. That’s good news, yet we are not without challenges; that’s reality. Just because you uncover where the shoppers are (online now, obviously) and get them to identify themselves, it doesn’t mean we have created a marketing cake walk to profitability. The journey to improve conversion rates (sell through) at the highest possible rate must be taken jointly between marketers, sales management and sales staff. The key to higher conversion rates is simple: communications. Our 2017 goals are to be the switchboard for higher conversion ideas and the implementer of new marketing techniques and embellishments. We want our programs to help our clients experience higher sell through rates.
I have stated over and over again that our clients are our “best natural resource.” If you were to compare the functionality of our 2015 vs. our 2016 Prospects International campaign, you would see the metamorphosis of good results to better results in addition to a continuing-to-improve set of campaign elements for every EventFlow and LeadFlow campaign. Necessity was the reason for the improvements, the mother of invention. In response to the comments and needs of our clients, we needed to improve in order to justify our existence in their businesses. The value of our clients cannot be overstated. Even the exceptions to the rule, those clients who did not excel at follow-up or for some reason could not embrace the opportunity we presented, were valuable; we learned from them as well. We learned what to look for in a good digital partner. We learned what shortcomings in ourselves we needed to fix. The clients, and you know who you are, who have stuck with us since the beginning (when we knew we had something of value, but it was in its roughest form) will always be special to us. They funded our initial development and today benefit from helping us help them. That is the truest definition of a good digital partner. We and our client base are kinda like Kirk and Spock, going where no piano marketers have ever gone before!
Some important 2016 lessons and forthcoming innovations we’ve discovered with our clients:
#1 Our clients wanted to supplement their “used” piano method with one aimed at new piano business. We responded by creating PianoPair not only as an outbound lead generator, but a widget to help gather home page lead information. PianoPair is a fun application which allows prospects to answer questions and see what piano they may be paired with.
#2 Filling out client portfolios with multiple lead generation methods meant we had to begin gathering feedback on how they performed per market per method. Moving forward, this will allow us to advise more accurately our clients on how much of their ad dollars should be dedicated to which lead harvesting method, either the used or the PianoPair method. In addition, in 2017, we intend to create a new method and guess what? The idea for that one came from a client as well.
#3 The volume of business we did with Facebook and Google qualified us for our own specialist from each company and access to their research resources and teams. Bi-monthly, they keep us abreast of any new capabilities we should consider in turn to serve our industry, often while they are still in beta test mode. We are also learning how the leads generated from the two sources vary from one another in their proclivities.
#4 Improved targeting, because finding the piano buyer more efficiently is a never-ending quest. Because of our increased value to Google and FB, we have begun employing look-a-like technology as the volume of leads exceeds critical mass, meaning our resources are taking a “snapshot” of the respondents and then finding similar folks to those who have clicked through the ads to the landing pages we’ve created. Basically, our search is getting more intelligent.
#5 Making analytics more available. I believe we lost a client or two because we always had to set meetings to share analytics. So, in 2017, we will give clients a way to see how their ad money is being spent at their convenience and discretion. Since we need to allow our clients a peek behind the curtain more readily, PianoLeads will no longer be only a complementary CRM to be used at your discretion, but also an account headquarters where you can view analytics at your discretion. This project will take more time to develop the extended coding since we must integrate properly with Google and FB, but it is on the way this year.
#6 Integration is becoming faster and easier to implement now that we have routed leads to several different types of CRMs. We have learned a great deal about the respective features of different types of CRMs and marketing resources our clients already had in place. We also know we want to be an acceptable and appropriate part of the ad mix, so we are willing to integrate with all other digital considerations and resources for the sake of being a part of a comprehensive lead generation and re-marketing portfolio.
2016 was a really intense expansion and learning year for us. We brought some exciting new capabilities to the marketplace and learned what we need to do to improve our service to our clients in 2017. We doubled our size and improved our services. It was very gratifying to be accepted so well. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! to those of you who trusted us to serve you.
Another unprecedented plus is that our pricing structure went in a direction we didn’t anticipate: down! Because the house (figuratively speaking) is built and has been constructed on the back of our clients’ initial trust and investment, we actually will bill out less per invoice for the same amount of marketing services then we did in 2016. This is a result of our overall growth (economies of scale) and improving our automation behind the scenes. We need to do much less manually and have better information with which to advise our clients as our reporting has become smarter than when we started.
The fact remains that the industry is in a tenuous position as entertainment dollars which used to be musically oriented are being siphoned off by less healthy and less meaningful options. The more piano interest which can be excited, captured, and encouraged, the bigger the piece of the pie for all dealers and the better the future bodes for us all now that we are learning how to use the newest, cutting-edge technology to promote a traditional commodity with considerably more prowess.
PI has important product advancements to trumpet, but we all have a good product to promote. We must remember to sell a musical lifestyle because nothing can compete with that! Bottom line: a healthier piano industry is best for us all as well as for society as a whole. We do an honorable thing as digital partners: we bring music into the lives of as many people as possible.
I will steal my final thoughts from some much, much more impressive personalities than myself:
I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by.
No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music. – Billy Joel
Music happens to be an art form that transcends language. – Herbie Hancock
Music is the universal language of mankind. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sell the benefits, my friends! They are awesome!
It’s a good thing that we do together.