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

Forrester Research, Inc. Q2 2009 earnings call scheduled – will it continue to lose enterprise clients?

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Update 7/30/09 click here for an analysis of the Forrester earnings call.

logo-forrester.gif.

This earnings call should be interesting in the wake of yet more analyst firm layoffs (see TowerGroup is rightsizing for a changed landscape and Listing of analyst firms who have laid off analysts in 2009).

Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR)  earnings call is 11:00 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, July 30, 2009 . The earnings call is a webcast that you can find on Forrester’s investor relations webpage. This call is coming the week before Gartner’s earnings call.

SageCircle doesn’t listen to the Gartner and Forrester earnings calls with the same mindset as a financial analyst. What we listen for are clues to how the two publicly traded analyst firms are evolving Continue reading

Vendors, through reprints, help keep the analysts influential

There is an inherent contradiction in vendors saying the industry analysts are not relevant in the age of social media, while at the same time spending tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on research reprints like the Gartner Magic Quadrant or Forrester Wave. If the analysts are no longer influential – some vendor executives actually make that declarative of a statement – then why are their companies wasting the money spent on reprints? Reprints are not chump change as Gartner in its Q1 earnings call revealed that it makes about $7 million per year in reprint rights. Plus, our Google Alerts set up for the Gartner Magic Quadrant and the Forrester Wave come in every day – without exception – with multiple new hits on vendors bragging about their positions on one or more of these iconic research graphics. 

A small irony is that the vendors promoting analyst research in press releases, blog posts, Twitter tweets, reprints on websites, and quotes in sales presentations only help to reinforce the perception among enterprise technology products and services buyers that these analysts matter. To a certain extent, vendors are spending their money in order to do brand marketing for the analysts. Pretty good deal for the analyst firms, eh? Of course, the two biggest beneficiaries of this largess are Gartner and Forrester.

SageCircle has previously Continue reading

Former Forrester analyst criticizes the Wave… but why did he wait?

Source: Corporate Integrity website

Source: Corporate Integrity website

Michael Rasmussen (blog, bio, Twitter) is a former Forrester analyst now with his own boutique firm, Corporate Integrity. In his recent blog post The Forrester GRC ‘Ripple’ (OOOPS . . . I Mean, ‘Wave’) Michael calmly dissects the Wave methodology and makes several suggestions for improving it. It is well worth the read. 

However, this SageCircle blog post is actually in response to a Twitter direct message Carter received about Rasmussen’s post: “while part of me admires Rasmussen for offering critique, why didn’t he do so while AT Forrester? Hints at sour grapes.”

Probable Answer: It was only after he left the firm could he see the problem in the methodology

Major firms are constantly tweaking their methodologies with input from the analysts. But that is typically done around the edges with the goal of increasing the efficiency, fixing minor problems, or silencing vendor complaints. Frankly, it is the rare analyst at a major firm who takes the time to do an in-depth analysis of her firm’s research methodology to see where it is really broken. This lack of observations occurs for a variety of reasons:

  • Analysts are too busy with day-to-day activities
  • They drank the kool-aid that what the firm does is perfect
  • “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” attitude toward things that appear to be working

So Rasmussen should not be criticized for not criticizing the Wave methodology when he was an employee of Forrester. Rather than think of this post as “sour grapes,” it is much more likely that he did not have an “ah, ha!” moment until he was on the outside looking in.  We all know that hindsight is 20-20.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Research consumers and AR professionals should develop a deep understanding of the methodologies used by their key analysts
  • Research consumers should press analysts for detail on Continue reading

Observations on changes in the analyst ecosystem

Gerry Van Zandt  [This commentary comes from guest contributor Gerry Van Zandt (Twitter handle), AR manager with HP Services. This guest post started as a letter that Gerry sent to his HP colleagues. We are posting an edited version with his permission]

I think it’s important to read and internalize what’s happening in the analyst ecosystem at a macro level.  Please note that this is my own take, and not the opinion nor the official position of HP.  Thus, you may or may not agree with it.

For the past 6-7 years, since blogs began to take hold and proliferate, a sea change has been occurring in the influencer (press and analyst) ecosystem.  The strict lines between press and analysts have been increasingly blurring, and a new class of influencers emerged circa 2002, and began really solidifying in late 2005.  I coined the term “blogalysts” for these influencers around this time.

Dozens of reporters and editors have left the press ranks to become industry analysts over the years — that’s not news.  However, we’re seeing more analysts who are contributing regular content to print and on-line press publications (i.e. Gordon Haff/Illuminata and Peter Glaskowsky/Envisioneering writing for C/Net).  Furthermore, laid-off press people and now analysts are leaving their traditional organizations to join on-line blog networks (and going solo) as “expert commentators” around particular topics. Some have strong reputations, others are striving mightily to build or re-build them.

RedMonk was probably the pioneer “blogalyst,” deliberately eschewing traditional paid, data-based research services and publishing commentary free, and 100% on-line.  They joined other newly formed “new-era” research firms like The 451 Group who aggressively embraced blogs and other emerging on-line tools.  Since then, Continue reading

SageCircle AR Podcast for June 2, 2009 – GigaOM Pro; Gartner’s AR call; NDA and social media

SageCircle AR Podcast ArtworkThe AR podcast is a review of the latest news and trends in the analyst ecosystem along with tips and tricks for analyst relations professionals and analyst research consumers. SageCircle strategists Dave Eckert and Carter Lusher co-host this bi-weekly program. You can find all the SageCircle podcasts on our podcast page.

Click here to listen to the podcast on your computer or visit the podcast page to download the MP3 file.  Click here to subscribe to the podcast within iTunes

SCP 2: Table of contents. Numbers in parentheses refer to minutes:seconds when the article starts within the podcast.

(00:00)  Introduction

(01:04) In this edition we look at the announcement of GigaOM Pro and the possible impacts it will have on the analyst ecosystem

(03:38) Next we will discuss the Gartner plan for better data collection

(06:32) We review some comments to our post asking if Forrester has a conflict of interest in providing advice about how Waves and Magic Quadrants

(9:20) We reply to a question about analysts respecting non-disclosure on social media

(11:08) Upcoming AR events

(12:22) End credits

Our goals for the AR Community Podcast are two-fold. The first goal is to provide an additional venue for SageCircle research that complements our existing deliverables, whether free (e.g., SageCircle blog) or client only (e.g., the Online SageContent Library, the largest and premier repository of AR best practices and downloadable tools available in the industry). The second goal is to develop real-world podcasting skills so when our clients are considering their own podcasts we have the experience (and scar tissue) to help them start podcasting without having to re-invent the wheel.

SageCircle Podcast for May 19, 2009 – Big Two 1Q 09 earnings; Survey of the Analysts; Spoken Word Audit

SageCircle AR Podcast ArtworkIt is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of SageCircle’s newest free research deliverable, the SageCircle AR Community Podcast. The AR podcast is a review of the latest news and trends in the analyst ecosystem along with tips and tricks for analyst relations professionals and analyst research consumers. SageCircle strategists Dave Eckert and Carter Lusher co-host this bi-weekly program. You can find all the SageCircle podcasts on our podcast page.

Our goals for the AR Community Podcast are two-fold. The first goal is to provide an additional venue for SageCircle research that complements our existing deliverables, whether free (e.g., SageCircle blog) or client only (e.g., the Online SageContent Library, the largest and premier repository of AR best practices and downloadable tools available in the industry). The second goal is to develop real-world podcasting skills so when our clients are considering their own podcasts we have the experience (and scar tissue) to help them start podcasting without having to re-invent the wheel. 

Click here to listen to the podcast on your computer (corrected broken link 5/26/09 1:45 pm PT) or visit the podcast page to download the MP3 file. At this time the AR podcast is not yet available for subscription on iTunes, but we hope to have the details for this ironed out by next week.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast within iTunes

SCP 1: Table of contents. Numbers in parentheses refer to minutes:seconds when the article starts within the podcast.

(00:00)  Introduction

(00:56)  This week we start with a look at the Q1 09 earnings reports of the only two publicly held analyst firms, Gartner and Forrester. Gartner surprised us by actually growing overall revenue. Forrester did not.

(04:55)  Next we’ll discuss our new survey of the analysts on their Continue reading

Does Forrester have a conflict of interest with its AR workshop on the Wave and Magic Quadrant?

Tweet on Forrester AR workshopThere was an interesting tweet this morning (see graphic on right) about Forrester’s new AR training offering.

Hmm, interesting question.

What do you think? Is there:

  • A real conflict of interest?
  • A potential for a perception of conflict of interest?
  • No conflict what so ever?

We are looking to the members of the analyst ecosystem community – AR, analysts, IT managers, PR, research consumers – to weigh in on this issue. If you only have time to say “yes” or “no” that is fine, but we would like to get a little bit on why you answered the way you did.

Please spread the word about this post and let’s see if we can have another lively discussion about an important issue for the community.

Workshop description from Forrester’s website:

Raise Your Game In Waves, MQs, And Other Major Evaluations

Kevin Lucas, Senior Analyst, Forrester

Major comparative evaluations of technology or service sellers, like the Wave and the MQ, play a central part in the Continue reading

The facts point to Gartner not relying on consulting revenues

There was a recent comment to a rather old (August of last year) post. Because it is about something that we hear periodically, we decided to elevate to a full post to bring the comment and our response to everybody attention.

 The comment is from the reader who called himself “Me” and referred to the post Are the vendor-centric analyst firms heading for tough times? Will end-user centric analyst firms do fine?

 “Me, on April 20th, 2009 at 5:33 pm Said:

 From what we’ve seen, vendors are more willing to spend than end-user firms. End-user firms are retrenching, eliminating anyone but Gartner, or even their entire budget while many vendors are seeing the recession as an opportunity to gain on weaker competitors, so they are looking to research firms to help with marketing plans, strategy assessments, and the like.

 End user focused firms are having to become consultants to survive, changing from retainer-based pricing to per-project pricing because end-user companies can’t get budgetary approval for research licenses.”

 This is an interesting opinion, and one many vendor personnel – especially executives – would love to come true because it implies that advisory firms are losing their influence. Frankly this is wishful thinking because the facts do not support this position. Here are data from Gartner’s financial reports. We start with 2004 because Gene Hall was appointed CEO in August 2004 and made a number of important strategic decisions that put more emphasis on syndicated research.

  • 2004
    • research was $480m or 55% of total
    • consulting was $259m or 30% of total
  • 2005
    • research was $523m or 54% of total
    • consulting was $301m or 31% of total
  • 2006
    • research was $571m or 55% of total
    • consulting was $305m or 29% of total
  • 2007
    • research was $683m or 58% of total
    • consulting was $325m or 28% of total
  • 2008
    • research was $773m or 60% of total
    • consulting was $347m or 27% of total

2005 saw consulting’s percentage of total revenue grow to 31% but that was because of the META acquisition. META had a higher mix of Continue reading

Gartner, Inc. Q1 2009 Earnings

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This analysis does not look at areas of interest to investors, but seeks to pull out insights that are relevant to clients and prospects of the “Big Two” advisory analyst firms as well as communications and IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams.

 Gartner, Inc. (NYSE:IT) announced its Q1 2009 earnings on May 8, 2009. See the end of the blog post for a summary and link to the press release.

In general, Gartner’s results were much as expected. All statistics are year-over-year and FX neutral unless noted. Events took a big hit (down 18%) due to cancelation of conferences, enterprise travel freezes that cut ticket sales, and vendors cutting sponsorships. Consulting was down in revenues (4%) and backlog ($86.7m 1Q09 versus $116.8m). However, Consulting modestly exceeded expectations due to popularity of the Contract Optimization Service. Research revenue grew 4% and Research contract value grew 2%. It is the Research growth that kept Gartner revenues flat rather than falling like Forrester’s.

Cash was down nearly $70m from prior year mainly because Gartner paid down some long term debt. However, it still has $70m in cash and a $250m in available credit, which should give it the necessary resources to maintain its business and conduct M&A activity. On the M&A front, CEO Gene Hall maintained the position that M&A opportunities are being constantly evaluated.

Interesting factoid: Client inquiries were up 27% in 1Q09 versus 1Q08. CEO Hall attributed that increase to enterprise clients (primarily IT managers) wanting advice on today’s tactical issues. This is consistent with our research that shows that vendors do not use client inquiry as much as they should. The implication for the vendor community is that IT managers are seeking advice on how to manage costs, which could impact ongoing sales deals and future purchasing plans.

Interesting factoid: Research reprints are approximately a $7m business for Gartner. This is why Gartner will defend its copyrights as we discussed in Vendors need to respect analyst firm copyrights.

 Pricing

As always, CEO Hall mentioned that Gartner is maintaining its pricing discipline. When pressed by two financial analysts about how competitors’ pricing initiatives are affecting Gartner’s pricing, Hall did not directly address what Continue reading

Forrester Research Q1 2009 earnings

This analysis does not look at areas of interest to investors, but seeks to pull out insights that are relevant to clients and prospects of Forrester Research, the number two advisory analyst firm, as well as communications and IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams. 

logo-forrester.gifForrester Research (NASDAQ: FORR) reported its Q1 2009 earnings on April 30, 2009. See the end of the blog entry for a summary and link to the press release. 

Q1 revenues were up 2.5% year-over-year to $56.4m, slightly above guidance. Cash and short term investments were $225.8m, up approximately $5m over Q4.

As expected, consulting and events revenues were down as is typical during a recession. Consulting was down 12%. Forrester did not give numbers, but said Events did not meet even the reduced expectations. More interesting is that the all important “deferred revenue,” which represents syndicated research contracts, was down 7%. There was also a decrease in total clients from year end 2008 by 58 to 2,585. These are relevant data points for vendors AR teams because syndicated research contracts and total clients are simple indicators of potential changes in a firm’s influence with technology buyers. The more enterprise syndicated research clients there are, the more opportunities there are for Forrester analysts to influence vendor deals. The converse is true, fewer clients means fewer IT buyers are turning to analysts for advice.

While Forrester does not break out details on its client base, CEO George Colony mentioned that the IT (information technology, aka enterprise IT managers) and TI (technology industry, aka vendors) segments were down in the quarter, offset by growth in the Marketing & Strategy area. M&S grew in part due to companies turning to Forrester for advice on how to address social media. The implication for vendor AR programs is clear – revisit your analyst lists to ensure that Forrester analysts are correctly ranked. These data points could indicate that influence in traditional IT infrastructure and enterprise applications markets is decreasing while influence in social media and Web 2.0 markets is growing.

Forrester also announced new packaging and pricing initiatives in Continue reading

Analysts keep adding social media capabilities, something AR needs to emulate

icon-social-media-blue.jpgWhile updating the various SageCircle social media directories, we were struck about how the industry analysts continue to embrace blogging and Twitter. Here are some statistics from this week:

Blog Directory - Forrester – four new personal blogs, for a total of 96 entries

Blog Directory - Gartner – 18 new blogs, for a total of 79 entries

Twitter Directory - Analyst – 42 new entries, for a total of 534

We already have 16 new analyst Twitter handles for Monday’s update even though the weekend is when we usually do the research to identify new tweeting analysts. In order to support the Analyst Social Media Traffic Analysis service, we are going to add Gartner analysts’ personal blogs to the Gartner Blog Directory. In addition there are hundreds of other analyst blogs beyond Forrester and Gartner blogs we actively track.

So, how is AR doing when it comes to adopting social media? Not so well. The Twitter Directory - AR had only 18 new entries for a total of 339. The analysts are typically joining Twitter about 50% more than AR. On the blogging side, we have identified only five AR program blogs.

Social media is clearly a missed opportunity for most AR programs. Most AR managers and professionals we talk to indicate that time – or lack of it – is a major reason why they are reluctant to start with blogging or Twitter. This is clearly a valid concern.  However, adopting social media does not Continue reading

Analysts can go around AR using social media

icon-social-media-blue.jpgWhen Analyst Relations Get Social is a short and interesting post by Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang (bio, Twitter handle) on the fact that analyst relations professionals should not consider themselves gatekeepers, but facilitators. On this, we at SageCircle completely agree. Frankly, the best AR programs have always had the facilitator attitude.

For those AR programs that still want to be gatekeepers, social media is making it harder and harder to maintain control of every interaction with the analysts. As Jeremiah points out:

 “…For example, I can easily tweet out “anyone in the sharepoint team have have a moment for some questions” and I’d suspect they’d quickly respond in seconds, whether or not the AR person was involved. …”

SageCircle Technique

  • AR programs that currently look at themselves as gatekeepers should reevaluate this position
  • AR needs to embrace social media then experiment and Continue reading

Forrester Research, Inc. Q1 2009 earnings call scheduled – will its mix of clients insulate it from the recession?

logo-forrester.gifThis earnings call should be interesting in the wake of IDC’s significant layoffs (see IDC experiences layoffs – likely more than 20 analysts affected).

Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR)  earnings call is 11:00 a.m. Eastern time on Thursday, April 30, 2009 . The earnings call is a webcast that you can find on Forrester’s investor relations webpage. This call is coming one week before Gartner’s earnings call.

SageCircle doesn’t listen to the Gartner and Forrester earnings calls with the same mindset as a financial analyst. What we listen for are clues to how the two publicly traded analyst firms are Continue reading

Are you in a “contract renewal trap” when it comes to Forrester and Gartner contracts?

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgAs we work with clients on helping them manage their analyst spending, one major problem that keeps popping up is what we call the “contract renewal trap.” This occurs when the analyst contract manager (e.g., analyst relations, market research or IT manager) lets the analyst firm control the renewal process by starting with last year’s contract. The previous contract then becomes a de facto floor to build upon. It is a seductively easy trap to fall into because it appears to have minimal work involved and there is little likelihood of not renewing. Of course, this trap benefits the analyst firms immensely. 

The contract renewal trap is likely costing the average vendor or end-user client of the analyst firms tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of unnecessary spending every year.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Contract managers, whether end user or vendor, need to determine if they are in a contract renewal trap
  • Contract managers need to take a “sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger” mentality and approach renewals as if Forrester and Gartner might not get any contract
  • Contract managers need to seize control not cede control to Continue reading

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

Forrester’s blogs – Observations while building the new SageCircle Forrester Blog Directory

icon-social-media-blue.jpgToday SageCircle is launching a new directory for tracking the Forrester analysts who blog. You can find it in the left-hand navigation menu section Directories. Look for Blog Directory - Forrester

The reason why a directory is needed even though Forrester has a blog home page is how they have organized their blogs. Forrester’s analyst blogs are centered on particular “roles,” which is now Forrester’s standard approach to research management. Forrester blogs are typically team written with various analysts contributing posts. That causes a problem for people, end users or vendors, who want to know which analyst posts to which blog. The blog home page lists the blogs, but not the analysts who contribute to them. Therefore SageCircle has done the work of identifying which analysts contribute to which blogs and put that information in our Forrester blog directory.

But wait! There’s more! Some of the Forrester analysts have personal blogs where they post significant commentary as well. So we are including the personal blogs as well.

While our research was mainly to find names for the directory, we did gather up some other interesting tid-bits about the blogs as well.

Contributors – Most of the blogs have Continue reading

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

On the reading list – Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies

Groundswell book cover. Charlene Li and Josh BernoffEven though it has been out almost a year, “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies” ($19.77 plus S&H, click to purchase on Amazon) by Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff (blogTwitter handle) and former analyst Charlene Li* is still very interesting and relevant. I had picked it off the bookshelf after writing about the one year anniversary of the Analyst Twitter Directory and found myself nodding in agreement as I reread it. 

* Charlene (blog,  Twitter handle) left Forrester Research in 2008 and has since launched the Altimeter Group.

Highly recommended.

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

Don’t ignore research associates

SageCircle came across Forrester research associate Timothy DeGennaro (Twitter handle) the other day while looking for analysts to add to the Analyst Twitter Directory

Research associates are typically recent college graduates who assist senior analysts with their projects. Occasionally research associates will get a contributor mention (“with”) for a piece of research, but they do not have a listing and biography on the analysts page. Because the perception is that research associates only do grunt work analyst relations (AR) professionals frequently overlook their potential future influence. This could be a missed opportunity because research associates do have ambitions, such as the one DeGennaro stated on his LinkedIn page:

“…I am currently a Research Associate at Forrester Research taking on such coverage areas as PMOs, Project Portfolio Management, and PPM software solutions.

I aspire to someday (soon) own this coverage area at Forrester as an analyst. …”

It is not just future influence that could be important.  The research associates could also be working on something today that impacts your company. For example, 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

A warm compliment for Merv Adrian and an interesting comment about the Forrester layoffs

Background:  This text originally came in as a comment to Forrester experiences analyst layoffs. Because of the last line, I did not approve the comment leaving it as a private communication to SageCircle. But I did tweet that someone had sent along a very nice compliment for Merv Adrian. That triggered this comment to the original (and not published) comment:  “Saw your tweet. Oops. sorry. meant keep IP confidential. pls reveal details. =)”  So with that permission from the author, we are now publishing his or her comment. However, rather than a comment I decided to elevate it to a full post. BTW, you can follow Merv Adrian on Twitter at www.twitter.com/merv.

photo-merv-adrian-official-forresterIt is truly sad to say good-bye to co-workers especially during a lay off.. I will miss each person who has left. But it is quite a travesty when you lay off someone who is an icon, someone who makes a big difference in everyone’s lives, and someone who has had the company’s best interest at heart at all times. I have struggled to tell this story about my team and the more I wait, the more I regret it. I must tell. I shall share. I now reveal.So I say this with great conviction: “It is unconscionable for Forrester to lay off Mervyn T. Adrian without a proper explanation to our clients and our employees”

Why?

I was there when we first bought Giga. It was a scary time like now. The Internet bubble had burst. We had finished 2 rounds of layoffs. Our business was tanking. Our stock in the toilet.

When we bought Giga, we were nervous. Our first reaction was who are all these gray hairs? We were all much younger. Why’s everyone a VP? We only had principal analysts as the highest title and there were only 2 or 3 of those. Would we get along with these old farts? They seem crotchety and nerdy. How come they all work from home? We lived in a must show up to HQ culture.

But throughout the acquisition, this bubbly gentleman would reach out. He showed us how to work together. He showed us the value of an inquiry to clients. He showed us the how to collaborate across teams. He would reach out and mentor new analysts. He would tell it to us like Continue reading

Is your email to industry analysts value-add or spam?

Forrester analyst and best-selling business book Groundswell co-author Josh Bernoff (blog, Twitter handle, bio) has an interesting little critique of the emails he receives in Three quarters of the PR email I receive is irrelevant. Why? Josh tweeted me that this post applied just as much to analyst relations (AR) professionals as PR.

You should take a moment to read his post and do a quck review to see if you are you guilty of any of Josh’s offenses.

SageCircle’s Analyst Hierarchy of NeedsAs we pointed out in the “Analyst Hierarchy of Needs”, the analysts do appreciate outreach by AR teams. However, they want more than simple, generic outreach. They want “Personalized Outreach.” In our interviews with analysts the common refrain is “Just send me information about stuff I care about.” Once your AR program is proficient at providing analysts the basic information they need, your program should work to begin personalizing content based on the specific coverage, speaking calendar, and editorial calendar of individual analysts.  Targeted information supporting issues they are concerned about is highly prized by the analysts and can raise your AR program’s visibility significantly.  However, analysts who receive too much generic content will stop looking and miss your personalized information.  

Another point to be aware of when applying the Hierarchy of Needs to your analyst email distribution is emphasis changes depending on the analyst’s status. A Sage analyst will be significantly less tolerant of generic emails than a Novice analyst, who might appreciate the basic information (see Know your analyst – Novice, Luminary or Sage).

The situation differs when you are Continue reading

Big 2 social media expands – 15 new Gartner blogs, 3 new Forrester podcasts

icon-social-media-blue.jpgThere has been significant activity on the social media front over the last few weeks that you might want to examine for relevance, either as an end-user client of the analysts or a vendor AR team. 

Gartner has moved to phase 2 of its expanded use of blogging that was started last October. Last week it added 15 bloggers to (see Gartner Blog Network Directory for links). So far, five have posted, marked below with *, and we expect the rest will likely get their first posts up in the next week or so.

  • Baker, Van
  • Blechar, Michael
  • Cappuccio, David *
  • Global Posts
  • Lheureux, Benoit
  • MacDona Continue reading
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