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

Tina Hanson (Parkhouse) 2011Happy New Year! I have high hopes that 2012 will be great for Microsoft and its partners. At the end of last year, we launched the Pinpoint Pointers presentation series, short online presentations with audio that help partners use Microsoft Pinpoint effectively to reach and engage prospects. If you have time for just one, I recommend watching “How to Optimize Your Pinpoint Profile.” It’s chock-full of useful information and tips for creating a profile that gets noticed, and it will take you fewer than 20 minutes to watch in its entirety. At the end, you’ll see links to the other presentations, too.

This month, I’ve had several opportunities to talk about Microsoft Pinpoint with U.S. partners, and have appreciated the questions and feedback I’ve received. A common theme is that many partners feel that Pinpoint is just not helping them get customer prospects. But when I talk to partners who are having success with Pinpoint, they have one thing in common—they spend time carefully crafting and managing their profiles, using customer keywords and writing their company and solution descriptions to optimize their listing in search results. This effort is paying off for them with inquiries from new prospects.

Walk a Mile in Joe Customer’s Shoes

Let’s think about Microsoft Pinpoint from a customer perspective. Many customers use keyword search in Pinpoint as their first step in finding a partner to help them. For example:

  • Joe Customer is located in Kansas. His small business has no internal IT staff. He wants to make sure his systems stay up and running, and wants to find a local IT provider to help him manage the workstations and servers at his company.
  • Joe sees “Find a Partner” on the Microsoft.com website, which takes him to Microsoft Pinpoint.
  • Since his business need is to find a technology provider who can manage his network, Joe enters the search term “IT Managed Services” into the search box on Microsoft Pinpoint.
  • Joe narrows his results to display companies that are within 100 miles of his location, since he wants to work with a local company. As he starts scrolling through the list, he notices that the companies at the top of the list have few, if any, customer reviews, only a couple of them mention “Managed Services” in their profiles, and just a couple have “Managed Services” listed as its own Service Listing. Without enough information that helps him differentiate one partner from another, he ends up just picking a company at random.

This is a real scenario that many customers have described to us, and I share it with the goal of illustrating the importance and value of writing your profile for a customer. Notice, for example, that, Joe Customer uses “IT Managed Services” to search. There’s a good chance this is a term many customers might use on Pinpoint—I used the Google Insights for Search beta tool (only because it’s free) to understand how the term “Managed Services” is used across the web.

We Can Help You Get Started Today

Roughly half of the customers who visit Microsoft Pinpoint to find an IT provider use a keyword to conduct their search. If you are not taking the time to implement online search optimization for your Pinpoint profile in the same way you might use search engine optimization for your website, there is a very real possibility you are missing the opportunity for potential customers to find you. The How to Optimize Your Pinpoint Profile presentation I mentioned above offers expert advice that will help you start building a customer-friendly profile that helps get your company and solutions or services noticed. Good luck!

imageRead the Pinpoint Pointers blog series and related blog posts.

imageHave a question or feedback about Microsoft Pinpoint or partner-to-partner networking? Email Tina at partnerQ@microsoft.com.