What to do when you only have a few dollars for AR

rocket-for-startups.jpgThere are many IT vendors that are either launching or reinvigorating their AR program for the IT industry analysts (e.g., Gartner, Ovum and Yankee Group). It is typical for nascent AR programs to have a small budget to work with. This heightens the importance of spending decisions because when there is little money the margin for error shrinks considerably. 

The first priority for AR managers is that they demonstrate effectiveness early to get more support for AR. This requires a ruthless focus on the key success factors and how money spent can help achieve those factors. While there are many reasons why IT vendors invest* in AR, more often than not the initial reason is to obtain increased visibility with the analysts talking to their prospects. This post focuses on that premise.

First, spend your money with the right analysts. There are three primary types of analysts: end-user advisory, market research, and white paper for hire. It is the end-user advisory firms that have the hundreds of thousands of personal interactions with IT buyers every year. Thus, dollars spent with those analyst firms will have the biggest payback by obtaining relationship-building tools. Advisory firm contracts provide the ability to do inquiries on a frequent basis, which are invaluable for gaining insights into the analysts’ thought processes and research agenda, getting “top of mind” presence, doing spoken word audits, and developing a personal relationship. These types of activities will greatly enhance an IT vendor’s visibility with their primary analysts leading to analysts being more comfortable recommending the vendor to their clients.

Market research firms are less important because their clients are vendors and financial firms. The exception is when the market researchers are affiliated with an end-user advisory firm (e.g., Dataquest and Gartner) where a well-crafted and keenly executed “market driver” study can be used to influence the advisory analysts. In this case, the AR program might be able to leverage their company’s research/competitive intelligence’s market research budget for this project.

White paper for hire firms should NOT get any of your meager AR budget. These analysts’ primary clients are vendors’ marketing and Continue reading

Value for Effort

Analyst Relations PlanningOne of the slides we consistently include in any of SageCircle’s training content, private or public, covers value for effort. Basically this is our discussion about implementing only those activities or best practices where the analyst relations program receives more value back than the effort put into it.

For example, SageCircle consistently encourages AR professionals to pay attention analyst usage of social media. However, we also consistently say that AR needs to limit the number of analysts that they monitor on social media so as not to use too much time. This recommendation then dovetails into a discussion of the need for a good analyst list ranking and tiering framework to make sure that the AR team is focusing on the most relevant analysts.

SageCircle Technique:

  • AR teams need to careful vet any new programs or best practices for relevance and practicality

Bottom Line: The most precious resource that AR has is its time. While there are many Continue reading

Stop playing Whac-a-mole by moving from firefighting and reactive to proactive and preemptive

Analyst Relations PlanningToo many analyst relations (AR) professionals spend too much of their time seemingly playing Whac-A-Mole. They rush from one emergency to another, respond to one request after another (from colleagues and analysts), and always seem to be in catch-up mode. The problem with this state is that AR gets in the rut of being tactical and does not have time to be strategic. Thus, the image of AR merely being meeting schedulers gets ingrained in the company. 

To get out of the firefighting/reactive rut, AR should focus on becoming proactive and eventually preemptive. Firefighting-Reactive-Proactive-Preemptive are what SageCircle calls styles of AR. A quick set of definitions are:

Firefighting: The firefighting style of AR is one where a vendor deals with the impact of analysts as opposed to dealing directly with the analysts. Typically, the vendor’s sales force is trying to do damage control because analysts’ research either ignores the vendor or gives the vendor a very negative description or rating. A vendor with a firefighting approach, because they do not interact with the analysts themselves, is doomed to be defined by the uninformed analyst. This allows the vendor to be characterized by the disgruntled customers, competitors, prospects, and partners who do interact with the analysts. Often a vendor in permanent firefighting style is there because it really does not have an AR program and maybe not even a real PR organization.

Reactive: The reactive style of AR is one where a vendor answers questions initiated by the IT analysts, but does not actively reach out to IT analysts. Because the IT analysts do not necessarily contact every vendor for every piece of research they publish, vendors are constantly fighting ratings and recommendations based on old information. In addition, AR is reacting to Continue reading

Managing Your Gartner and Forrester Expenditures – A SageCircle Webinar

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgThe largest analyst contract commitments by enterprises, vendors and PR agencies often go to the Big Two advisory analyst firms: Forrester Research and Gartner. Unfortunately even during this recession, the two firms are not displaying any flexibility in contract negotiations – even though vendor clients are experiencing budget cuts.

To help analyst contract managers (e.g., AR, market research and procurement managers) take a strategic approach to dealing with the need to manage spending with Forrester and Gartner, SageCircle has a public webinar focused on providing the tools and intelligence needed to make the best decisions and deal with the firms’ sales representatives. 

In this SageCircle Webinar we provide insights and actionable advice on how to manage what you spend with Forrester and Gartner to ensure that you have the access you need without spending more than necessary. Key Issues to be addressed in this webinar include:

  • Is it possible to negotiate discounts with Forrester and Gartner?
  • What are the best practices for identifying expenditures that can be safely cut?
  • What are the repercussions with analysts at the Big Two if contracts are cut or even eliminated?
  • What are the best practices for handling angry and even threatening analyst firm sales representatives?

In this SageCircle Webinar, our strategists will provide a succinct analysis of why the Big Two are not being flexible and how vendors need to respond. Participants will come out of the webinar with best practices and tools that will help them manage their expenditures without adversely impacting their ability to Continue reading

Analyst Relations budget – Use it, don’t lose it

It’s now July 22nd, about half way through the third calendar quarter. Many communications and IT vendors have budget policies in place where departments lose any budget that is not spent within a particular fiscal quarter or calendar year. AR managers frequently find it difficult to find a good use for remaining budget, especially when it might only be a few thousand dollars. Are you kicking yourself because you had had left over budget at the end of the last quarter that you did not use? In addition, you don’t want to blow any remaining budget on something that might not be used to its fullest extent, like a reprint of a so-so research note or a Gartner Advisory seat for someone who probably won’t do inquiries.

An excellent use of remaining budget is AR staff development because it increases efficiency and effectiveness, boosts staff morale and adds variety to the job. Staff development  is even more important during a recession when bonuses are meager and pay raises are not likely.

To make it easy for AR managers to spend odd amounts of end-of-the-quarter budget, SageCircle offers its services à la carte as well as by annual subscription. We have many services under $1,000 such as webinars ($95), Online SageContent Library ($395), AR briefings ($495), workshops ($495) and advisory blocks (2 hours $495, 5 hours $995) and seminars ($995).

Another advantage of SageCircle AR training offerings is that many are 90 minutes or less, making them easy to fit into a busy schedule or a regular staff call. Oh, did I mention that you can conveniently buy any SageCircle service via credit card to ensure you get it into this quarter’s purchases? We will also work around the clock to complete any paperwork you need for traditional purchase order/invoice.

Here are three examples of how you can mix-and-match SageCircle training services to meet various needs:

AR continuing education – This example assumes an experienced AR staff located in one office. The first two items are free, which of course is a great price. Using the AR DiagnosticTM as a continuing education tool is atypical, but the questions asked Continue reading

Change management is a critical component for successful social media or ARM initiatives

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

You may call it behavior modification, but one of the most critical components – often overlooked – for a successful AR social media program or analyst relations management (ARM) application deployment is change management. Without a way to reinforce new habits, AR managers will find that their new initiatives will fade away as old habits and day-to-day activities displace the new behaviors (click on graphic to enlarge).

Change management does require specific techniques (e.g., monitoring activity, active intervention, and coaching), but the biggest issue for most managers is the investment of time. If the manager does not have time to be the change agent for the initiative, then they will need to assign one of their team members to that role and manage change through that person. It is also possible to out-task the change agent role, but the manager cannot out-task the accountability.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Incorporate change management activity into the plans for major new initiatives
  • Assign one person to have clear responsibility for change and hold them accountable
  • If out-tasking the change agent role, determine how you will manage the third party firm and measure its effectiveness
  • Add metrics for new behaviors into the goals for the entire team and individual team members
  • Periodically review progress with the team and individual team members

Bottom Line: To overcome the inertia of long established habits, managers need to make change management a vital part of their plans for new initiatives, especially social media and ARM usage.

Question: Do you have a formal section in your AR plans for change management?

Don’t Have the Time to be Your Team’s Change Agent? SageCircle can Help.

 SageCircle has the experience and processes to be the change agent for your initiatives. Please contact us at 503-636-1500 or “info [at] sagecircle dot com” for more information.

The Top 5: Mistakes when Buying Analyst Firm Services

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgWe have identified over 40 key issues that analyst contract managers at vendors (e.g., analyst relations, market research and competitive intelligence) need to be aware of when buying and using services from the IT industry analysts. In this post we list out the Top 5 Mistakes that buyers of analyst research commonly make.

5) Not determining the firm’s commitment to the research topic

4) Falling into “contract renewal trap”

3) Expending too much energy on obtaining incremental discounts from the Big Two (i.e., Forrester and Gartner)

2) Purchasing the premium version of a service, when the basic version would suffice (e.g., Gartner for Business Leaders versus Core Advisor)

…and the number one worst practice is Continue reading

The Top 5: AR Metrics Mistakes

AR Metrics & MeasurementOrganizations that use the Balanced Scorecard to report the effectiveness of their interactions with influencers often make their lives more difficult and the Scorecard less useful by picking the wrong items to measure. This Top 5 looks at issues surrounding the selection of metrics to put into the Balanced Scorecard.

5) Not picking items whose data collection can be out-tasked. Because data collection can be burdensome, managers should pick some items for the Scorecard whose data collection can be out-tasked (e.g., a clipping service for analyst quotes or a consulting firm for AR effectiveness surveys).

4) Picking items to measure that are too granular and thus too difficult to gather. A classic problem is picking metrics that require a significant amount of work to collect, analyze and report. This leads to the Balanced Scorecard being dropped from the regular activity list.

3) Not picking items that dovetail with corporate and departmental goals. A Balanced Scorecard can lose its relevance quickly if Continue reading

Defining “executive sponsorship”

n: Executive sponsorship is a formal program where executives take an active part in establishing AR goals and priorities, providing the resources necessary to achieving the agreed upon goals, explicitly communicating the importance of AR to the company, providing timely support when an internal organizational hurdle prevents the achievement of goals and making themselves available as spokespeople with analysts.

The key theme is active participation.

NCVI are the four most important letters in the English alphabet for a Gartner sales rep

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgKnowledge is power when it comes to purchasing decisions about analyst firm contracts. Unfortunately, too many contract managers do not understand many of the underlying behavioral drivers when it comes to dealing with Gartner sales representatives, which puts those managers at a disadvantage. 

For instance, an important piece of information is that Gartner reps are measured on NCVI, net contract value increase. NCVI is calculated based only on the total syndicated research revenues, seats, and clusters. Other purchases such as event sponsorships, consulting or SAS are not included in the calculation.

Gartner sales reps that achieve NCVI are golden. Those reps whose client contracts are less than the prior year’s amount are in danger of termination. That is why Gartner sales reps start getting desperate when it looks like contract renewals are going to be less than the previous contract.

It is possible to reduce spending – notice we did not say “save money” – with Gartner without damaging the ability to access analysts for influencing purposes. However, it is not as simple as trying to negotiate a better discount from the sales rep, which is quite difficult because of the pricing discipline mandated by Gartner’s CEO. Rather it takes intelligence about Gartner’s business and sales practices to know what Continue reading

Carter interviewed on John Simonds’ AR podcast about the state of AR

icon-microphone-reduced-v-2.jpgIBM AR manager extraordinaire John Simonds (Twitter handle) interviewed Carter for his podcast series about AR that he posts on his  “Delusions of Adequacy” blog.  Topics we discussed were:

  • What is the state of A/R right now?
  • What is a good A/R practice/best practice?
  • What is a bad A/R practice or incident that we can learn from (without names)?
  • What could the A/R industry do to improve?

For the good and bad AR practices questions Carter looked at  both an AR practitioner practice and an AR management practice.

It was a fun and interesting discussion. Please visit  Podcast: An Analyst’s View of Analyst Relations – Carter Lusher of SageCircle to hear the interview.

Saving money on your Gartner and Forrester contracts is a year round activity

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgSageCircle is handling more and more client inquiries about how to reduce the cost of Forrester and Gartner contracts.  One aspect jumps out: too many purchasing managers (e.g., AR, market research, or procurement.) focus on managing costs mainly at contract renewal time. The reality is that saving money needs to be a focus each month of the contract, both to manage incremental spending but to also set the stage for the next contract renewal. 

What many vendors do not recognize sufficiently is that the Big Two account teams are scouring the vendors for additional budgets to tap with a sale of an Advisory seat here or some Service Units there. In some cases, the incremental purchases can easily add up 50% of the original contract. This can be very wasteful if the individual doing the purchasing does not how to be a good research consumer (very likely), does not use the resource after the initial couple of weeks (more likely) or buys something this already available in other parts of the company (regrettably likely). Because there is rarely a line item in the chart of accounts for analyst services, it can be very difficult to track these purchases.

Contract managers need to constantly work on monitoring actual utilization of the services in the prime contract. This includes making sure that Continue reading

Leverage the existing sales infrastructure, don’t reinvent the wheel

icon-dollar-euro.jpgOne of SageCircle’s recommendations for AR programs thinking about launching an AR-Sales Partnership Program is to leverage the existing sales infrastructure for training, information distribution, and sales support. These are all critical aspects of creating a partnership, but AR simply does not have the resources to reinvent what the sales organization has already built. In addition, sales representatives will be much more likely to work within their existing system than to add other communications methods. 

SageCircle Technique:

  • Add an AR-Sales Partnership element to your regular AR Strategic and Tactical Plan including goals for the year
  • Start with a modest pilot project (SageCircle clients can request a copy of the “Simple Steps for Starting an AR-Sales Program”)
  • Identify the key players inside the Continue reading

Saving money on contracts with the Forrester / Gartner duopoly is not simple

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgA common client inquiry we receive is in the context of someone negotiating with Gartner. Our clients want to know why in the midst of a terrible economic downturn, when vendors are cutting budgets left and right, that Gartner does not exhibit greater flexibility (i.e., cut prices) when it comes to contract negotiations. The short answer is that due to its end-user advisory market dominance – we estimate that Gartner has ~70% of the end user contracts – it does not have to be flexible. 

However, this issue is a little more complex than slapping a “monopolist” tag on folks over on Top Gallant Road. The reality is that there is an effective duopoly with tacit partner Forrester which gives them both the flexibility to be inflexible with it comes to negotiations. The last time this market saw pricing and packaging that in anyway favored the buyer was the mid-90′s when Giga and later META used significantly lower prices and “all you can eat” research seats to take market share from Gartner and Forrester. Alas, today there are no such firms that can play that role to counter Gartner and Forrester. As a consequence, the Big Two’s CEOs habitually inform Wall Street that they are maintaining their pricing and discounting discipline.

However, it is possible to reduce spending – notice we did not say “save money” – with the Forrester / Gartner duopoly without damaging the ability to access analysts for influencing purposes. However, it is not as simple as trying to wrangle a better discount from the sales rep. Rather it takes:

  • Knowledge about the firms’ business models
  • Knowledge about the firms’ research methodology and analyst culture
  • Knowledge about the true business value of Continue reading

Former analysts can do more than AR for vendors

One of the most hotly commented on SageCircle posts was What are the pluses and minuses of former analysts taking on vendor AR roles?  The blog post had 42 comments with about as many from analysts as from vendors.  There was a pretty even split in attitude with half feeling that hiring former analysts into vendor AR would be a mistake and the rest saying it was a brilliant move. It is also significant to note one of the points raised several times in the comments was that former analysts could likely make a better contribution to a vendor outside of analyst relations.

This post came to mind while reading The Secrets of the Talent Scouts by George Anders in the Sunday New York Times. The bottom line of the article is that smart companies continue to hire in a recession and pick up great talent that is temporarily available when there are fewer companies bidding for their services. Another point from the article “is to cast a wide net, finding intriguing candidates who might never appear on rivals’ radar screens.”

Former analysts can certainly fit into the “intriguing candidates” category for a wide range of jobs inside of a vendor including (in alphabetical order):

AR belongs in Marketing – a dead idea

Analyst Relations PlanningPublic policy wonk and Fortune Magazine columnist Matt Miller’s new book The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity got us at SageCircle thinking “Hmm, are there dead ideas holding back analyst relations?” Of course there are! This is one in an occasional series of posts that will address the dead ideas that impact AR programs and their ability to delivery strategic value to their companies. These posts are meant to be provocative and not necessarily definitive in their new ideas and suggestions.

Dead Idea: AR belongs in Marketing

Back Story: In the time before there was a dedicated AR position, industry analysts calling vendors asking for a briefing were often bounced around from one department to another. More often than not, the analyst would end up on the public relations doorstep because what the analyst did sort of sounded like a reporter. Because PR usually reported to Marketing, AR became a de facto marketing function even if it became an independent department.

Problem: Putting AR in Marketing has multiple problems, but a big one is consistency. One of AR’s critical success factors is consistently interacting with analysts because influencing the analysts is a process that takes a long time. AR cannot turn on and turn off interactions and be successful. Unfortunately, Marketing programs in most vendors are the model of inconsistency with resources being changed frequently.  If resources and programs are cut during recessions and restored during good times the damage for AR has been done in terms of:

  • Institutional memory is lost as AR staff gets cut or moves to other companies 
  • Relationships with analysts go stale due to lack of interactions or the inability to work with the same people
  • Sales and revenues are impacted by analysts with outdated or incomplete information providing inappropriate advice to customers and prospects
  • Intelligence dries up about analyst opinions and intentions because analyst contracts get cut reducing inquiry access to analysts

New Idea: Move AR out of Marketing and into Strategy. While there are several different options for a new home for AR (e.g., sales, product management and investor relations) each have their own issues. Strategy on the other hand has a number of advantages Continue reading

Access to those with access – One reason why end users buy analyst advisory subscriptions

Social CRM: When Registration Pages Go Extinct is an interesting post by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang (bio, Twitter handle) on his Web Strategy by Jeremiah blog. However it is not the content of the blog overall, but a couple of throwaway lines that are relevant to analyst relations (AR) professionals:

“…I’m working on a report called the “Future of the Social Web” and I interviewed quite a few companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Lotus, RWW, Federated Media, Plaxo, Dell, Cisco EOS, Flock, Meebo, Gigya, Intel, Razorfish, Six Apart, and a bunch more to find out the trends in this industry. There’s probably less than 10 people in the world that have access to all these teams, executives and thought leaders, and I’m taking advantage of it. …”

I don’t think that Jeremiah is bragging about his access, but rather it is his typical – and rare – transparency about how he goes about his job as an analyst. What is interesting is the number of vendors that Jeremiah has access to for his research. Because of this litany of access, Jeremiah’s factoid can be leveraged by AR as part of its executive sponsorship building efforts and spokespeople training.

One of the selling points that end-user advisory analyst firms (e.g., Gartner and Forrester) make to their enterprise IT manager prospects is that their analysts have access to top vendor executives and thought leaders in the industry. Furthermore, not only do they have access, it is part of their job to take the time to leverage that access. Savvy analysts are adept at name dropping when chatting with existing clients (it helps renewals) and when on a prospect call with one of the firm’s sales representatives. IT executives and IT managers value the analysts’ broad access to vendors – and their IT peers.   Analysts can provide an integrated point-of-view that the IT manager client does not have the time to develop themselves through conversations or reading blogs (see the related story Context, advice, reputation and time: How analysts can thrive in the social media age).

Positioning themselves as having superior access, and the ability to verbally apply this access to a client’s situation, has always been a differentiator of the advisory analysts versus Continue reading

AR-Sales partnering – comments from AR managers at the Coffee Talk

icon-dollar-euro.jpgThere was a great turn out at the two February Coffee Talks on the topic of AR and Sales partnering to drive revenues. The best part of the Coffee Talks is when AR managers share their experiences and ask questions. Here are some of the comments from the past two Coffee Talks. 

Comment: Dana Stiffler (AMR analyst, Twitter handle) tracks the value of the deals she is influencing…

SageCircle: Not many analysts are savvy enough to formally track that kind of information like Dana. However, most analysts can give you a top-of-mind feel for the number of deals they are advising technology buyers on in a typical week or month and a rough average of size per deal. Not scientific, but this info can provide useful anecdotal points for AR teams to use with their executive sponsors.

Comment: I had a panel at a sales kickoff where sales folks told their success stories of working with analysts and AR… it was the best way to instantly gain credibility.

SageCircle: Sales reps want to know what techniques work so this type of “customer panel” is incredibility effective. To make it even more effective, AR can follow with tips-and-tricks and lessons learned from these sales reps to be posted on the internal sales portal/blog, included in regular sales newsletters, and during regular sales team conference calls. Repetition is a critical success factor to making sure that the training about the analyst impact on sales deals sticks.

Comment: Most good sales people understand the value of relationships and once you’ve helped them, they “pay you back” by keeping you informed… when they remember.  Best thing is to keep a tickler file and check back with them regularly for a status.

SageCircle: One of the common questions we get when talking about AR-Sales Partnerships is whether the sale reps will give anything back or share credit with AR. The answer is absolutely because smart sales reps will want Continue reading

Do I place my bets on AR-Sales partnering or adopting social media?

icon-dollar-euro.jpgQuestion: If I had to choose between starting an AR-Sales partnership or launching a social media initiative, which way should I go? If I did both, but with limited resources, how should I divide my efforts?

 During the happy hour after the first session of our STRATEGIC ISSUES advanced AR seminar, one of the attendees asked these great questions. Both Dave and Carter answered immediately and in unison:

     “AR-Sales!”

Why? Even a simple AR-Sales partnership pilot will give the AR team an opportunity to gather real world examples of the analysts impacting sales opportunities. These types of hard sales numbers, even in anecdotal form, are powerful tools for illustrating the strategic value of AR. In addition, a pilot project can Continue reading

What are the pluses and minuses of former analysts taking on vendor AR roles? [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgComment/Question: Re: your point below about jobs for senior analysts, here’s an idea for a blog entry – the pluses and minuses of former analysts taking on vendor analyst relations roles. That ought to stimulate some discussion on the comments section.

Rob Curran, wicked smart AR professional at Waggener Edstrom, sent along that comment after this week’s newsletter where we wrote in light of the recent spate of layoffs at analyst firms: 

Do you know of a job appropriate for a senior analyst? – Now is the time to grab talent. The job could be at a firm you know is hiring or maybe your company has a position open in product management, strategy or market research. If so, notify the analysts you know that are “in transit” between positions. Not just former Forrester analysts, but the others as well.”

It looked like Rob noticed we did not include analyst relations (AR) as a possible job for former analysts. Hopefully that was a simple oversight on my part (this is Carter, a former Gartner analyst, writing) and not a Freudian slip. Obviously there can be real value to having a former analyst in the AR role. On the other hand, I have seen some former analysts really botch the job of AR.

This is a topic that really does Continue reading

AR & Recession: Top Five Tips for Communicating AR’s Value

Analyst Relations PlanningAt all times, but especially during a recession, analyst relations (AR) programs need to effectively communicate to executive sponsors and other internal stakeholders the business value delivered by AR. Unfortunately, too many AR teams are so focused on interacting with the analysts that they do not do a good job telling their stories to their colleagues and the people that hold the purse strings. This can be a fatal mistake as AR is competing for resources – executive bandwidth for briefings, budget and headcount.   Not communicating about business value means being at a disadvantage during budget discussions. 

While there are many aspects to an edu-marketing (educating colleagues using marketing techniques) campaign, here are our Top Five Tips for effectively communicating AR’s business value:

(5) Develop a compelling “elevator pitch” for analyst relations

(4) Gather examples of analyst impact on actual and recent sales deals

(3) Constantly communicate, monitor, and adapt AR’s message

(2) Focus on the business impact of analyst relations

And the #1 tip for communicating AR’s value is… Continue reading

AR & recession – Reconsidering analyst contract priorities

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgControlling spending is a high priority for most vendors during a recession. For analyst relations (AR) teams this mandate causes angst because it means cutting spending with analyst firms, usually a big part of AR’s budget. Discussing this issue has become an increasingly common inquiry for SageCircle strategists as clients work through budget cutting scenarios. 

One of the main sources of anxiety is the perception that analysts will start bad mouthing the vendor to prospects, making negative comments in the press, and cutting off AR’s ability to brief the analysts. This is usually an overblown concern as reputable firms will not damage their standing with vendors – a significant source of information and market insights – over short term contract spending changes. Analysts at the largest firms often do not know the size of a vendor’s contract with the firm and will not notice if the vendor cuts the contract by some percentage.

Unfortunately, there will be individuals who do resort to threats and making overtly negative comments about vendors in the press as pressure tactics to get contracts. Typically these individuals are Continue reading

AR & recession – Refocusing metrics to emphasize outcomes not activities

AR Metrics & MeasurementWe are continuing our commentary on analyst relations (AR) and the implications of the recession (see recession category for all posts). SageCircle suggests you think about how metrics need to change during a recession as you are refocusing and placing emphasis on something different. In this case, it is important to be capturing and reporting metrics that demonstrate AR’s outcomes and ability to impact revenues. 

In typical times, most AR programs emphasize operational metrics and simple mention counts (e.g., the number of times analysts mention the vendor in published research and press quotes). This is never the best approach even in the best of times, as we state in moving beyond operational metrics.   However, during a recession it can be fatal as it sends the message that AR is a boring tactical function whose headcount and budget can be cut without much downside. Instead, AR needs to shift all metrics reporting to performance metrics that position AR as something more akin to a strategic profit center.

Of course, this shift is a non-trivial effort as it is much easier to capture data for operational metrics than performance metrics. For example, capturing sales impact data requires establishing a working partnership with the Sales organization. Showing success shaping analyst perception requires performing Spoken Word Audits and measuring tonality not just mentions in published research.

SageCircle Technique:

AR & recession – it’s about refocusing priorities and activities

Analyst Relations PlanningRecessions typically change technology and telecommunications vendors’ priorities and activities. One of the most common changes is to cut back on marketing, especially brand building and other “fluffy” activities, to reduce expenses. At the same time, there is more emphasis on selling, especially for those vendors that sell direct to large enterprises. Another change is to focus on core markets and reduce effort in secondary markets. There are several dangers for analyst relations (AR) programs in economic downturns: 

  1. AR is associated with “fluffy” marketing and subject to headcount and budget cuts
  2. AR is not closely associated with driving revenues
  3. AR’s priorities become out-of-sync with new corporate or business unit priorities
  4. AR is executing its original plan (or typical activities if there was no plan)
  5. AR is reporting metrics that do not seem relevant to executives

If AR is to avoid been the target of budget and headcount cuts is it critical to ensure that it is aligned with corporate priorities and demonstrating positive economic contributions. While this seems obvious, too many AR programs are so caught up in reactive mode or simply doing normal day-to-day tasks that they don’t see the danger forming. As a consequence, these programs have a greater likelihood of getting cut than those AR managers and teams that proactively or preemptively move to change their focus.

When AR programs are considering what has to change during a recession they should remember to work and spend differently. Only doing one is not Continue reading

Defining “Extended analyst relations (AR) team”

n:  The group of individuals at a technology provider who do not have AR as part of their job responsibilities, but whose efforts within their proscribed areas of responsibility can be leveraged by the Core AR Team to accomplish AR objectives.  Examples of individuals who may be recruited as members of the Extended AR Team include:  a) executives, product managers, and others who perform as spokespeople during analyst meetings, or public forums where analysts might be present, b) marketing or competitive intelligence personnel who monitor media and analyst research publications, c) HR or sales team trainers who incorporate AR topics into their training agendas, d) HR or sales team personnel who publish internal company newsletters and other communications, and d) intranet or extranet maintenance personnel, especially those who maintain the sales or analyst portals.

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