How is corporate AR different from product-centric AR? [AR Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgLast week I had lunch with an AR manager at a software company where we had an interesting chat about “corporate” AR. She had always been focused on product-centric outreach and wanted to know what constitutes good corporate AR. That is a great question because most AR teams are focused on products for a good reason, but that means that corporate issues frequently do not get the attention they deserve. This is especially true for larger companies with a diverse portfolio of products and services since the analysts will often not see the forest for the trees.

Because a discussion of corporate AR will require quite a bit of space, I will split it into a variety of articles over the next month or two. The series will include entries on spokespeople, topics, measurement, content, events, campaigns and business value. In this entry I’ll focus on the objectives of corporate AR.
 
The primary objective for corporate AR is to ensure that the analysts understand the big picture about the company. This includes corporate strategy, R&D, M&A, partnerships, brand marketing, and so forth.  In essence you are trying to establish why a customer should develop a strategic relationship with your company as opposed to just purchasing selected products. In theory the big picture will show how the corporate strategy and capabilities enhance the business units’ ability to execute. The big picture should also demonstrate the synergy points between business units. Finally, by giving the analysts a foundation about the big picture, it can give credence to the premise that a bump in the road for one business unit does not constitute a crisis because that business unit can lean on corporate and other business units to get past the bump.
 
I will warn you that most analysts are not interested in the big picture, because they are so focused on the product/service markets they cover. As a consequence, you will have to very persuasive as to why the analyst needs to devote some bandwidth to learning about the corporate story and how it help will them in their primary research coverage.

Bottom Line: Providing the analysts with a solid understanding of the corporate story will give them a better foundation for their work on individual business units or products/services.
 
Question: For AR managers – does your team provide the analysts with a consistent flow of information about corporate issues? For IT buyers – is it important for your analysts to understand how the various parts of your strategic vendors work together? For analysts – do you want corporate story background or does that not interest you? Why?

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3 Responses

  1. One of the most interesting questions here is how you measure “strategic” buys, where purchases take place primarily because the customer cares about that big picture view. It’s rare that anyone convincingly demonstrates that it can be shown to drive business in any specific way. That’s another reason few industry analysts want to spend a lot of time on it. Financial analysts, on the other hand, are very sympathetic to this point of view because investors care very much about it, and their behavior is changed by it.

  2. Would there be a specific target audience?

  3. Comment response – Ludovic on Corporate AR

    Posted: 1/21/08

    Hi Lucovic, Great question.

    Vendors
    • Multiple product lines that are very different from each other
    • A strategy of using cross-product/group synergy
    • Analysts that tend to focus on their narrow

    Targeted Analysts
    • Press go-to resource for overall quotes on your company, especially for major news events
    • Senior analyst managers that do research agenda management for a market
    • Product-centric analysts that need to see the connection between the product they cover and the bigger picture
    • Gartner “Lead Analyst” for your company
    • Forrester analyst writing the “Vendor Profile” for your company

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