“You have a problem message, not a problem analyst!”

Analyst Relations PlanningSageCircle strategists are frequently called upon to help a client with a problem analyst. As we chat with the client and investigate the circumstances it sometimes turns out that the problem is not the analyst, but the poor messaging being used with the analysts. This problem is frequently compounded by a lack of customer stories that can support the messages.

There are many elements to a poorly executed message (e.g., hype, unsupportable claims, poor understanding of the market, and others). A savvy industry analyst will quickly decide that a message does not pass muster and will penalize the vendor heavily. If a vendor cannot properly develop and present the all important corporate/business message then what other problems lurk in the background?

While analyst relations is rarely called upon to contribute to the company’s or business unit’s message development, the AR team can certainly be the recipient of the fallout from a poorly executed message. As a consequence, at a minimum it is in AR’s best interest to communicate to the messaging team the reactions of the analysts. AR should also work to get included in any project to refresh and refine – i.e., fix – the message. One of the better approaches for AR is to convince the messaging team to engage the smartest trustworthy analysts as advisors and contributors to the message development.

Besides having a better message to present to the analysts, there are other positive outcomes of AR contributing to message development, especially when enlisting analysts as advisors. These outcomes include:

  • Enhancing the relationship with the analysts by making them “part of the team”
  • Impacting the top of Analyst Hierarchy of Needs
  • Developing within AR and the key analysts a deep understanding of the message and the underlying strategy
  • Generating an emotional buy-in by the analysts in the success of the message because they contributed to it
  • Doing analyst interactions that contribute to regular top-of-mind needs as well as contributing to long term projects (e.g., moving the dot in a Magic Quadrant)

While some budget might be required, the major expense will be in AR’s time to persuade management that there is a problem with the message and that AR can be part of the solution as well the actual work.  As to the budget requirements (e.g., Gartner Advisor seats for members of the messaging team or analyst consulting time), some budget could be contributed by the messaging team or other parts of marketing. In addition, there might be unused or underutilized existing analyst services that could be reallocated to the messaging project.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Collect anecdotes of negative analyst reaction to messages
  • Do a quick spoken work audit to gather hard facts to complement the anecdotal points
  • Set up a meeting with the messaging team to explain the problem and how AR can assist
  • If the messaging team agrees to AR participation, develop a plan that lays out an interactions calendar and budget
  • Obtain explicit management approval for the plan and the expenditures of time and budget
  • Train the messaging team on best practices for interacting with analysts in this context

Bottom Line: Poor messaging can contribute to poor positioning in analyst research that also reflects poorly on the AR team. By proactively getting involved in improving the company or business unit message, AR can increase its strategic value to the company and eliminate a critical problem.

Question: Analysts – How often do you come across poorly executed vendor messages? Do you proactively advice your AR contacts to the problem?

Don’t know how to involve the analysts in message development? SageCircle can help.

One of the topics covered in the STRATEGIC ISSUES: Advanced AR seminar is how to contribute to message development project. This content can also be delivered as an AR Team Briefing (via webinar). The Online SageContent™ Library has best practices and downloadable tools for executing a project like this. In addition, SageCircle strategists can provide a sounding board, best practices, critiques of plans, content reviews, and other coaching through our Advisory services. Contact us at 503-636-1500 or “info [at] sagecircle [dot] com” for more information.

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One Response

  1. Great post,

    You mention “Question: Analysts – How often do you come across poorly executed vendor messages?”

    Answer: Very frequently, in some cases particularly with some of the very small, or, very large organizations, a common briefing pitch for the media and analysts will be used, or, it becomes evident the briefers are not clear who or what audience they are briefing and or what the objective of the briefing is being able to say that x y or z were briefed.

    “Do you proactively advice your AR contacts to the problem?”

    Some want to hear feedback, some encourage feedback and request sparing or test sessions as you point out in your tips. Meanwhile others, well, that’s a different story.

    BTW, here’s another tip, if you are leveraging a PR firm to handle your AR and briefings, make sure that they understand AR, PR and know industry. With turnover particularly in larger PR firms that are increasingly being used for AR, there can be a disconnect. So the tip is to leverage those items pointed out in the post, establish a relationship and pro-active contact, however be mindful of everyone’s time as well.

    Cheers GS
    Greg Schulz – Server and StorageIO
    http://www.serverandstorageio.com

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