Guest post by Tina Hanson, Partner-to-Partner Lead for the Microsoft U.S. Partner Team.

Tina Hanson (Parkhouse) 2011Thanks to all of you who attended my Microsoft Pinpoint webcast at the end of October (you can listen to it on demand), and who have reached out to me with feedback and questions. As I continue to talk to colleagues and partners about Microsoft Pinpoint and the Product Marketplaces, I am hearing increasingly more interest in how to use these tools—available to Microsoft Partner Network members as a benefit—effectively. I am putting the finishing touches on a Pinpoint success story a partner recently shared with me, that illustrates how spending time on your Pinpoint profile can result in identifying new customer prospects, without a heavy dollar investment. I’ll be sharing that here in a future Pinpoint Pointers post (by the way, you can share your own Pinpoint success story with me and perhaps win a $100 gift card).

On October 31 of this year, the Logo Benefits Extension ended, and we retired the long-standing “Microsoft Certified Partner” and “Microsoft Gold Certified Partner” branding. Microsoft partners who were using these logos and labels on their websites, business cards, sales and marketing collateral, RFP documents, etc. were asked to replace them with the new Microsoft Partner Network branding (the Partner Logo Builder lets you quickly build your new logos and provides usage guidance).

The expiration of the Logo Benefits extension also offers you a good reason to review and update your Pinpoint profile, as you will need to remove references to the defunct branding. Here are some things to think about when going through this process:

  • Remove previous references to Certified Partner and Gold Certified Partner program levels, and instead mention your competency attainment status to set your company apart and help customers easily identify your capabilities and expertise, since the competencies align with how customers buy.
  • Connect industry keywords to your competency to increase your profile relevance in customer searches. For example, Microsoft SharePoint ties to collaboration, platform, and file sharing.
  • Remove or change language that is internal Microsoft lingo or uses acronyms that are not intuitive to a customer. I’ve reviewed many profiles that sound like they were written to impress Microsoft, instead of focusing on impressing customers.
  • Use the Pinpoint Dashboard as a way to get real-time analytics on the search terms customers are using to locate your profile.
  • Manage and update your profile just as you do your company website. If you add a new Microsoft practice or area of specialization, make sure your Pinpoint profile reflects that new aspect of your business.

You’ll find more information for optimizing your profile in the “Tips and Tricks” tab of our Microsoft Pinpoint portal page.

Later this week, I’ll be announcing new Microsoft Pinpoint resources about which I am very excited. Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope you find this information useful! Send me your Microsoft Pinpoint questions or feedback by email at partnerq@microsoft.com.