KEYS 4/4 KIDS
A Salvation Army, Just For Pianos
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For over 10 years, Midwest nonprofit Keys 4/4 Kids has been accepting donations of used and unwanted pianos and refurbishing them for resale to fund its three major youth and civic programs: Pianos On Parade, Piano Placement, and The Ellen Project. I joined the Keys 4/4 Kids team in October 2015 and stayed for a little over a year to draft and implement a digital media strategy modernizing the way the nonprofit delivers good on its mission after it experienced a 45% systemic decline in piano sales from 2012-2015.
With four brick and mortar retail locations ($1MM) and hundreds of pianos on showroom floors to bring to market, I became highly focused in three primary areas to reverse an alarming 3-year downward trend: 1) Analyzing channel performance from past sales data to identify best performing channels, 2) Overhauling the charity’s legacy website into an operationally-aligned platform to more seamlessly interface with donors and customers, and 3) Producing content with community partners and deploying it to relevant audiences via targeted paid marketing.
In a year’s time, the resulting design and implementation had not only reversed the trend, but also nearly brought revenue figures back to all time highs. Trailing October 2016, TTM for piano sales increased ~52%, recapturing ~80% of the peak year-end revenue benchmark set in 2012. Additionally, operations teams reported record numbers of high value piano donations including one professionally appraised at $35K, the highest valued instrument to be processed since the organization’s founding.
(Image Courtesy of Keys 4/4 Kids)
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Services: DIGITAL MEDIA STRATEGY, VIDEOGRAPHY, VIDEO EDITING, PHOTOGRAPHY, WEB DESIGN, PAID ACQUISITION
HISTORICAL ACQUISITION CHANNEL PERFORMANCE
Analyzing years of purchase orders and donation slips, a palpable sense of how past customers and donors became aware of the charity emerged from the noise just in time for the holidays. Heavy seasonal promotion and offers deployed into the best performing channels via enriched media generated the most successful holiday on record. Auditing historical acquisition channel performance was critical to shoring up the charity's most vital KPIs and beginning the reversal of a 3-year downward trend.
The process of purchasing from or donating a piano to the charity requires a fair degree of coordination for all parties involved. Prospective customers and donors needed to know the charity had a proven track record of delivering good on its mission and the charity's internal sales and operations teams needed to be able to efficiently facilitate deal flow with prospective customers, streamline order fulfillment from donors, and manage service inquiries.
Integrating the charity's story, original video content, transparency on piano pathways, press clippings from established news outlets, industry guides to piano ownership, and thoughtful web forms into mobile-responsive streams created more seamless and educational consideration experiences for website visitors. Inquiries via web forms were automated to route to custom, user-friendly dashboards of sales and operations teams, according to market.
Additionally, the organization was transitioned out of an inefficient paper-based POS system to a web-based, full SSL encrypted and PCI compliant platform with branded checkout enabling more seamless financial reporting and accountability, automated data collection around vital KPIs (esp. channel performance), and easy management of a new payment plan system that lowered the barriers to piano ownership by an order of magnitude.
IN-HOUSE CONTENT PRODUCTION & TARGETED PAID AMPLIFICATION
Dedicated in-house content production powered a nimble and adaptable cycle that yielded timely or evergreen stories around organizational initiatives. Out of a collection of 40+ original videos produced during this engagement and various other collateral, the targeted paid amplification of choice content across 100+ unique Midwest audiences via Facebook placements against a modest ~$1800 budget (utilizing shares on content as the most vital KPI) generated hundreds of thousands of impressions enabling the charity to tell its stories at scale to relevant audiences.
The steady growth in top-of-funnel awareness created an inflow of prospective customers and donors, and attracted mission-aligned organizations and artists to the charity’s cause, laying the groundwork for a series of creative collaborations and partnerships:
“The Voice” season finalist and Saint Paul’s very own Nicholas David worked with the charity on a host of events including Pianos On Parade (Kare 11 Press) and a series of shows called the “Summer of Love Your Neighbor” to warm up for his upcoming national tour, graciously donating a portion of proceeds to the charity.
Minneapolis Downtown Council
In an unprecedented partnership with long-time neighbor Minneapolis Downtown Council, the business association generously sponsored and installed 25 highly decorated pianos throughout downtown Minneapolis in the summer of 2016 (Kare 11 Press). The council cited the stories surrounding Pianos On Parade from the charity's new website as the primary activation behind its decision to approach the charity.
Hovland Conservatory of Music
Over 60 pianos were matched with parents of students from Hovland Conservatory of Music, a Twin Cities-based conservatory, and its satellite location in Phoenix, AZ. I designed and assembled a 50+ page interactive digital catalog to enable the charity’s sales and operations teams to interface with and successfully fulfill its very first wholesale intrastate demand.
Make Music Chicago
Every June 21st, Make Music Chicago helps Chicagoans celebrate their ability to make music, regardless of age, ability or preferred musical style. For its 3rd summer, Make Music Chicago partnered up with the charity and Night Out in the Parks (DNA Info Press) to install seven pianos across the city’s parks and beaches for anyone to sit and play.