Paper 1, technology 0?

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Last week, I had a lesson in integrated marketing from a most unlikely source: classical musicians. Humbling moments such as these that remind me just how important it is to heed one's own advice when it comes to delivering on multiple touch points. No matter how many search blogs one reads or conference presentations one gives, the marketing truth will always come from the man on the street who knows his audience.

Let's rewind. A few months ago I agreed to produce a pair of concerts for a new composition. I was eager to use every digital tool known to get this production up and running. Auditions were posted online, artists sent their YouTube clips for review and rehearsals schedules were a breeze with Google Docs.

This part is not such a surprise. Musicians have successfully wielded social networks such as MySpace and content distribution platforms like YouTube as audience-building channels. And, every search engine marketer knows that music-related terms are the most frequently searched, year after year after year. (Britney Spears making an almost historic contribution.) Technology has completely leveled the playing field for the online musician.

When it came time to market and sell the production, I selected the Pingg platform, a grown up invitation Web site. In addition to sending e-mail invites, Pingg allows the planner to drop in video, images, Google maps, create an event fund via PayPal and monitor the whole lot. In a clever nod to the now ubiquitous mini feed, Pingg reports real time activity so that one can actually see the invited social network in action:

8:15 Joe invited
8:15 Joe viewed e-mail invite.
8:16 Joe viewed Web site.
8:16 Joe invited Sam.
8:17 Sam contributed $40.
8:18 Joe contributed $40.

Let's just say that I thoroughly geeked out.

Back to our story. With just a few weeks before the performance, PR and social media came out in full force. The event was shared via Facebook with just a click, a clever move on behalf of Pingg. And of course, the event was then added to numerous sites such as Upcoming, etc. I Google alerts for the production listing arrived within the hour, as if sending a formal nod approval.

Somewhat smugly, I reported this activity to the musicians, to which they responded, “So, where are the flyers?” I tried to ignore this request. Don't flyers just end up on the ground?  I soon realized that I was outnumbered and grudgingly caved in. Fortunately, desktop publishing has come a very long way from the '80s when just making arc shapes with Typestyler Wordart. Three hours later, I sent the eager artists off with 800 flyers, and forgot the whole deal.

A few hours later, I returned my data geek head to the Pingg mini feed, noting a pick up in ticket sales. I asked one artist if they knew any of these new buyers, assuming our strong social media campaign was now reaping rewards. Taking a closer look at the feed, one musician served me a big piece of humble pie:  all of the new sales could be directly attributed to fliers handed out just an hour prior.

While the morale of this story is not quite paper 1, technology 0, the online marketer is well-served to remember that searches and online transactions all originate within the physical world.

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