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Microsoft Pinpoint Best Practices: Play to Your Strengths

As promised, Microsoft has improved the Pinpoint search tool to help more visitors to the worldwide sites find their way to qualified partners. The updated Pinpoint platform is driving qualified leads to partners who invest the time to create strong, focused messaging and keep their profiles fresh.

Erik Frantzen, president and partner of Nurture Marketing, recently shared his experiences working with partners to build effective Pinpoint profiles.

"With the new platform and changes that Microsoft has made, we're seeing more qualified prospects come through Pinpoint," Frantzen said. "More of the right type of opportunities are getting to the right partners."

Prospects Who Are Ready To Buy
According to Microsoft research, up to 45 percent of the visitors to Pinpoint are in the decision phase of their purchase process. That means those potential customers have a clear understanding of the solution that they need and are looking for the right partner to work with. Not many other sources of leads delivers prospects so far along in the buying process.

Frantzen suggests that the buyer stage is an important factor to guide your Pinpoint listings. Many partners cut and paste text from their Web sites into the Pinpoint overview and solution pages. "While your Web sites represents your entire organization, Pinpoint is all about the Microsoft practice," Frantzen said. "Since visitors are farther along in the buying process, the message on Pinpoint should be very specific to their pains."

For marketers, creating messaging appropriate to the decision phase requires a different mindset than for most of their content. Frantzen suggests tapping into the experience of your sales team to help. "When we work with partners to fine-tune their messaging, we often ask the sales team to describe the conversations they have had during the last three won opportunities," Frantzen said. "Their perspective helps us hone in on the final differentiators that turned a prospect into a customer."

The Challenge of Focus
For most partners, choosing a limited number of solution sets to focus on is challenging. As with marketing in general, partners who serve a horizontal market struggle to limit their focus. Fear of losing an opportunity leads to a muddy message and trying to be all things to all people.

"We recommend that you focus on three solutions or three applications. You don't want to look like a jack-of-all-trades and master of none," Frantzen said. "It's often a tough choice, but it really is more effective to focus on a few core competencies."

One of the benefits of that focus is in the quality of leads that you will get from Pinpoint. While a general message may get a higher quantity of leads, they are less likely to be a good fit. Leads that don't fit your business may look good on paper, but are a huge waste of your sales team's time.

In addition to focus, Frantzen recommends that partners weave their organizational personality into the Pinpoint message. "In the end it's still human-to-human marketing. It's not easy, but it's important to let the ethics and spirit of your business show through," Frantzen said. "You want to build trust." 

References and partner awards can help to validate that trust factor. To build your bank of references, Microsoft provides guidance, including verbiage to ask your customers for the review, in Top Ten Tips to Harness the Power of Reviews.     

Another key part of Pinpoint success is in understanding the search algorithm. While keywords and competencies are obvious drivers, response rate to Pinpoint leads and profile freshness are two factors that are important to note. "The New Pinpoint: Understanding Search" provides Microsoft's guidance on profile visibility and is a must-read for partners. 

For more pointers on Pinpoint, visit Microsoft's Ready-to-Go site and search for Pinpoint. If you are attending the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in July, there is a Pinpoint session called "MKT01 - Winning with words – how to capture customers online and convert them with Pinpoint" for insights from experts.  

Microsoft's investment in Pinpoint appears to be paying off for partners who invest time and thought into their profiles. As well as the potential for qualified leads, Pinpoint is an excellent place for other partners and Microsoft employees to find your expertise when they need a hand. As a part of your membership in the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), Pinpoint is a benefit that can pay big rewards.

Posted by Barb Levisay on June 17, 2015