Should your industry analyst conferences be combined with other company events? [AR Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgQuestion: As AR managers look forward to 2009, many are thinking about scheduling an analyst conference. A common question SageCircle receives on this topic is whether to co-located the analyst event with other events.

Are you holding an IT or telecom industry analyst conference in the next few months?  If so, planning should be well under way.  One of the questions we have received several times over the year concerns the possibility of combining your analyst event with some other company function.  This other event might include customer or user group meetings, partner events, financial analyst events, or PR or marketing meetings.  The logic seems to be that you have gathered all the key executives together and can leverage their time and travel.

We think this is a really bad idea. 

The needs of the Industry Analysts are different that these other groups.  Your executives need to have presentations – and more importantly mindsets – focused on the analysts.  Treating analysts like customers or reporters is easily detected and in general disliked by the analysts.  Remember that analysts are best addressed by content that is tailored to their needs.

In our experience the less formal time at these events such as meals, round-tables, and one-on-one meetings has the highest value to the analysts.  Sharing the executives with another group either physically, or because they met with that other group earlier in the day, can diminish the value of that type of interaction.

SageCircle suggests that although you might think it is “convenient” to grab executives’ time by combining events you are better served by scheduling analyst events independently.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Begin your planning early so that you don’t conflict with other analyst or company activities
  • Set expectations with your executive spokespeople so they devote the required time
  • Presentations for analysts should be tuned to their needs and not re-purposed from other sources
  • Plan informal interactions to leverage the perceived high value by the analysts

Bottom Line: Holding an analyst conference can provide great interaction opportunities to tier 1 and 2 analysts, but requires a focus on the needs of the analysts.  Presentations that are not tuned or executives who are distracted pose a risk of negative analyst reactions.

Question: AR Teams: Do you ever combine activities? If so, what was the result?  Analysts: What have been your experiences with combined events?

Don’t forget to notify SageCircle when you schedule your analyst conference/summit so we can add it to the

SageCircle can help with staff training, agenda planning, presentation review, spokesperson training, or other event suggestions.  Feel free to contact us very early in your planning process to get the most from your event.

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3 Responses

  1. My feelings are mixed about combined events. In a perfect world of unlimited time, sure I’d probably prefer that they be separate.

    Of the two situations that you mention, combining with financial analyst events is probably the more bothersome. Very different concerns, different rulees of engagement. Doesn’t make it wrong to invite IA to FA events–so long as everyone involved understands that it’s basically an FA event.

    Customer/user group events have pros and cons. It’s true that exec time–especially informal exec time–is scarce at these sorts of things. On the other hand, I’ve seen it managed OK and I often want to attend user and developer events of important vendors anyway so there are some efficiencies on both sides.

  2. Gentlemen, I’m afraid this time I’m going to need to agree more with Gordon. While your points about the special needs of analysts are certainly valid, it’s also certainly true that it is possible to meet those needs even if there is an event for another audience in progress. Combining with a customer conference is particularly beneficial because frankly the analysts will probably value one-on-one meetings with customers even more than meetings and presentations from the vendors.

    The only way this works, however, is for senior leadership to value the meetings with analysts at the same sort of level as their customer meetings. Without a strong commitment to AR, you’ll face missed meetings, bad feelings, etc. Assuming you have that commitment, then we like to get them to give us X number of hours on their calendars one-on-one analyst meetings and presentations to analysts well ahead of time and when we do so, it all seems to work out. It does take exceptional project management skills! But we have had absolutely outstanding results from this approach.

  3. I’ve done it both ways and both work. We’ve been successful with a “hybrid” model that scedules a separate “Analyst Conference” maybe one day earlier in the same venue of our annual WW or regional customer conference. That way, our executives are dedicated to our conference, yet we leverage the budget advantages of having the event at the same venue, using the events staff, etc. We ensure the analysts get a maximum amount of one-on-one time, exclusive receptions and dinners and a 90 minutes discussion with our CEO. We also encourage them to talk to our customers by giving them a free ticket to attend the customer conference after the analyst event. We always get high marks on access to our customers during these events. It would be nice to have a choice, but with budget and executive time constraints, I’ve found this works for us.

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