What Does Being a Good Digital Partner Mean?

Dealing in a new frontier requires some adventure that more familiar territories don’t require. With lead generation being so new to the piano industry, those who jump in and begin learning to create and subsequently follow Internet leads know that this is unchartered territory and that a new journey is about to begin. If a piano company is about to embark on this path, having a good partner can be critical. Let’s examine some of the things which can create a good partnership.

A term recently worn out in DC may actually apply here, too: transparency. I mean it in a sincere manner, not as rhetoric. Let me throw one more term out there: teamwork. When assimilating to a new environment, both retailers and their marketing resources should reach a new level of cooperation and joint creativity. The old principle of hiring a vendor to “move the market for me” days are over for the business owner. Likewise, the days of “we’ll just move enough market that our clients will be automatically successful” are over for marketing resources. Today’s shoppers are online. Marketing online takes more of a business marriage and partnership. If the marketing company doesn’t target and deliver the right prospects, the partnership fails. If the sales staff doesn’t organize and chase the leads down properly, it also fails. It takes good communication (transparency) and teamwork, so roll up your sleeves and place your ego on the shelf. There is work to be done in this “new normal.”

This new frontier I am referring to is obviously the Internet, cyberspace. Digital marketing is a neophyte in the advertisement timeline, yet it certainly has changed all of our lives more rapidly than anything previously. It has proliferated and grown into the daily fabric of our lives at a rate so fast that many of us are reeling. From a recreational standpoint, it can be fun, a way to reach family and friends in distant places. From a business standpoint, the tsunami of technology is a great opportunity which can be either a glaring weakness or competitive advantage, depending on how you meet the challenge of harnessing the new reality.

So before I even get started, let me restate that this is a new frontier about which we want to be transparent in our communications. Teamwork is the key element to success.

Here’s my beef with the corporate options available to help piano dealers find new business via what they consider to be lead generation; they justify their existence through analytics. In fact, our young, brilliant, business partner Joey is one of the few pragmatic millennials who instinctively keeps his eye on the old proverbial ball. He doesn’t live and die by Internet activity numbers alone. We at PI get that unless they (the analytics) aid the final goal of getting folks in contact with prospects, they can be just feel good numbers. We understand that all of our efforts as digital marketing specialists must facilitate personal one on one possibilities or it all falls into a nebulous bucket with a hole in the bottom, adding no real-world value to the sales representative.

Let’s take a quick examination/historical review about how the digital realm and the Internet presence has changed over this last decade alone. Remember when the goal was SEO? Search Engine Optimization was the game you needed to win. Your local geek gave you all the analytics to show how many click-throughs became visitors and how much time the average visitor spent. Correct? Good to know– progress.

They worked their magic and your ranking improved, your visits increased and your analytics showed you were on an uptick. It was pretty much all about analytics and web presence until Google Adwords became all the rage. At this point, targeting became available and inbound interest could be supplemented with a proactive outbound activity, placing keywords. When my partner Joey was graduating from college, Adwords ruled. Now flash forward to the present and what we are doing in the piano industry: uncovering and providing piano interest leads to dealers and their sales staff.

Why was SEO and a proper web presence so critical? Because you wanted visitors through the new cyber front door to your gallery. Why? Because you hoped they would see or read something that sparked interest. Why? Because then possibly they would want to engage and talk to you about something that interested them. You hoped that you would get a good lead; that was your end game.

The website issue? The traffic was not and is not often enough converted into real opportunities. The web traffic flow was unorganized. It came and went as it pleased. It was like having a weekend sale without a greeter, registration form, or sales person to escort or guide the interested parties. They come and go at will and all you are left with are analytics when what you need is a lead! It’s like letting folks come into a weekend sale on the gallery floor and they wander around and then leave without a trace. How frustrating! All that traffic and no way to chase it down.

It’s not that websites aren’t always going to be important, they are. They will continue to be a digital brochure, a modern-day résumé, and a list of services and events. Now flash forward to the present and what we are doing in the piano industry. With good lead generation, the web is more of a tool than the life line it used to be considered. The lion’s share of Internet piano interest we generate never involves the clients’ website, though we do offer a way to optimize a customer’s home page for conversion. It is important to convert as many web visitors as possible into leads and the vast majority of websites are not optimized for conversion. We offer a widget to address that and help convert more traffic into leads, but even so, that forms a small portion of the leads we harvested. Today, the leads come from Adwords and social media and are created often before a website is even visited.

The greatest single benefit of having a passionate and proactive digital partner is the support you get in your quest to find more business. A good digital partner isn’t only about analytics. Fools can figure and figures can fool. A good partner helps you uncover piano interest you can work with to create new relationships and real sale opportunities. They craft programs with the end in mind. All the traffic in the world is useless without contact information, the defining characteristic of a lead. A good digital partner can accurately be described as a resource that uncovers people who are interested in what you sell.

From the days of Yelp and Reach Local to modern day corporate options, the most undesirable pill they expect independents to swallow is the cookie cutter syndrome so prevalent in their programs. I am passionately, diametrically opposed to cookie cutter marketing options. Apps and CRMs aside, true marketing efforts/initiatives can only be constructed with a customized mindset. From our marketing experiences in many, many markets (including global), I state this emphatically, “One Size Never Fits All!” There is an article posted on our website under “Resources” on this very topic. A good digital partner is someone who pays attention to your specific marketplace and customizes their service to meet what you sell, where you sell it. I live in Nashville not far from Music Row where, in the present day, they crank out one shallow song after another in the name of profit. My contempt for formula over attending to the heart and soul of anything runs deep. A good digital partner is creative and thinks about how unique you and your operation are. This is the best way to formulate an image to be presented to the buying public.

In the piano industry, we aren’t typically selling to the 12 to 26-year-old buyer. We are, however, selling to an older buyer more empowered with information than ever before in the history of the sales game. My seventy-eight-year-old mother goes online before she decides to try or buy anything new. Piano buyers are the same. They perform a lot of discovery online before they want to engage with a sales professional and we want to meet them in that realm first. First man in always has the branding edge. The first man in (just a manner of speaking) has the opportunity to build a more meaningful relationship with their prospects. A good digital partner should deliver piano interest people to you first. At PI, we pride ourselves in identifying and delivering the prospects ASAP. We even include proprietary new homeowners metrics in the secret sauce. How important to owning the most market share is being first? Well, ask Pepsi who hasn’t yet caught up to Coke after over 100 years. And how fun is it really to be Avis – in that even though they try harder, they’ve never caught up to Hertz? First man in doesn’t always end up dominating the marketplace or the prospects’ loyalty, but it happens more often than not.

Another critical attribute of a good digital partner is innovation. Being innovative at Prospects International is a way of life. Finding new tweaks, twists, and embellishments to our methods is ongoing. It is daily. My partner Joey subscribes to the top techie think tanks and stays on top of innovations so we can qualify, disqualify, and test them. We spend time regularly brainstorming and wondering how the latest capabilities may or may not serve our customer base. This attitude of being in front of the technology curve has much to do with our Cost Per Lead (CPL) being so low. Please reference this article for more information on CPL: Are you paying too much per lead?

I’ve listed some attributes you should look for when searching for a good digital marketing resource or partner. Allow me to place the shoe on the proverbial other foot and list some things we look for in a good digital partner. The first is the acknowledgment that we must get good at finding and converting piano interest into sales. There must be an understanding that this new frontier is where the shoppers are and that floor traffic isn’t coming back in the new sales landscape we live in. Converting online leads into real, one on one sales encounters is critical to the survival of a piano company today. That is qualification #1: understanding the importance of getting good at this! This could also be defined simply as commitment.

Qualification #2 is good chemistry, because without it, the teamwork needed to maximize the opportunity at hand will never materialize. Neither the marketing partner nor the sales staff know this arena as well as we will moving forward. We are like Captain Kirk and Spock of the Starship Enterprise, “going where no piano sales people have gone before.” We have to share experiences and ideas and work together to find the best way to create online excitement which will result in higher and higher conversion (sell through) rates. Chemistry precedes momentum and momentum is key to confidence and confidence is key to having fun which is key to good results which create an atmosphere of success. What did I just write? Here it is again, because it deserves repeating: Chemistry proceeds momentum and momentum is key to confidence and confidence is key to having fun which is key to good results which create an atmosphere of success.

Although there are more attributes we search for in a good partner, there are three main ones. The final in the trifecta, qualification #3, is organizational skills. Since Internet piano interest comes in all flavors, it takes organizational skills to sift through them. Even with the best of targeting, the metrics are “mostly” accurate with all the information that is being managed, so some inaccuracy is inherent. It becomes less and less so as the gathering techniques mature and cross-reference, but there is no such thing as 100% accurate metrics. You can’t buy for yourself and we can’t buy it for you. The other reality is when we target individuals or households which exhibit the proclivities for piano interest, we have no idea whether or not they already have a piano. No Internet “already got one” cross-referencing list or mechanism exists. Finally, the grand-daddy of all unknowns is timing. Much of prospecting success depends on when a person is actually in the market and we have no way of knowing even when we speak to the right folks if this is the time in their buying lives that they are ready to pull the trigger.

Here is the stark reality. When we provide leads, they fall into three basic categories. One is the person who is currently in the market. Client feedback sets this average percentage at 20. Approximately 20-30% of those who we harvest are searching to purchase. The second category consists of those who decide against ever buying a piano. They didn’t like the time and/or cost investment and spend their recreational dollars on something else, something not even always musical in nature like an ATV, home theater, a new boat or gas grill. Really, who knows where many of them land, but the bottom line is they get disqualified. The third and largest category is the pool of respondents who are eventual purchasers. They will buy, but the timing is not right yet. They are the segment which needs Lead Nurturing. There is a helpful article about this on our website under “Resources” by that same title, Lead Nurturing. This is the most valuable segment for future sales and steadily increasing your conversion rate.

The reason we list qualification #1 as being committed to becoming skilled at digital marketing is because no marketing company such as ourselves can take the work out of sifting through the chaff to get to the wheat. Good sale people do what good sales people do, that is qualify and disqualify prospects. The more you embrace and have fun with the process, the more you will treat it as a creative activity and discover ways to get more Internet prospects to respond and have meaningful dialogue with you.

So, to summarize the things we look in a good digital partner: we look for clients who are committed, who understand that this is a new arena we must conquer, and that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We also need someone who will value good communication and finally, a customer who understands the need to be organized in their follow up. Even of all of these are not characteristics operating at full tilt, the acknowledgment of them is necessary and the drive to achieve excellence in these areas is critical to arrive at excellence and the highest possible sell through ratio. These three characteristics define the most important qualities of a good Prospects International client.

To summarize the things you should seek in a good digital partner, here is the list: transparency, teamwork, a resource who delivers people interested in what you sell, someone who pays attention to your specific marketplace, is creative and thinks about how unique you and your operation are, delivers piano interest people to you first, and finally places the highest possible premium on being innovative.

Two benefits you can only find by giving Prospects International permission to be your digital marketing partner is the ability to market to look-a-likes and the ability we have to serve multiple markets and countries. In short, we can provide better targeting because of the online footprints Google and Facebook track through the thousands of responders globally to our landing pages in addition to the follow-up solutions we are discovering and sharing through our consortium of clients.

Whether you use us, do it yourself, or a local agency, we encourage you to review these salient points as you build your strategy. Whether you are a client or not, please continue to consider our helpful articles on our website under Resources. It is our sincere belief that we all benefit from increased overall interest in the piano industry. We also believe that ethical and fair competition is a healthy environment for retailers. Music is an invaluable gift to the well-being of the world. If we are ambassadors and concierges helping prospects become consumers of something that will help them be happier and healthier, maybe we can get the popularity of this beloved old instrument to increase to higher levels by using the most current technology, something musically oriented sales people should excel at: creative communications. Let’s spread the good word. End of evangelical rant. End of an important article.

Happy Prospecting, Friends.

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