Redmonk TV interviews IBM’s John Simonds on using social media for AR

In John Simonds on Twitter, blogs, & tags in Analyst Relations Redmonk analyst Michael Coté (Twitter, blog) interviews IBM analyst relations manager John Simonds (Twitter, blog) on how John uses social media for his AR work. Interesting and well worth watching.

Tip: If the video stops/starts and is jerky, hit the pause button. It will continue to stream in the background. Then, in a couple of minutes, you can hit play for uninterrupted viewing.

Updates to Tekrati’s analyst blog directory

logo-tekrati.gifTekrati Blogs Directory Update – March-May Archives  list of the blogs deleted from the directory during March, April and May

Tekrati Blogs Directory Update – March-May Adds list of blogs added during March, April and May

Gartner changes the date of the next Quarterly AR Call

Gartner has moved this week’s Quarterly Gartner Analyst Relations Call back by one day. It is now on Thursday, June 19th. They also changed the time, making it a single session at 11:30 am to 12:30 pm EDT.

I think this is great, because the AR Call no longer conflicts with SageCircle’s webinar on Spokesperson Best Practices for Analyst Interactions (click here to register). It is being held at 8:30 am and 4 pm US Pacific Time. There is still time to sign up.

Meanwhile, over on Twitter, Gartner PR maven Andrew Spender (click here to follow on Twitter) announced that Gartner has a new section on its Research Methodologies. While Continue reading

Kleenex, Frisbee, and Magic Quadrant – what do they have in common?

Have you heard your spokespeople make the following statement when briefing the analysts or presenting to a group of analysts on a teleconference: “… also if I reflect on the way you put us, whether it’s your magic quadrants or …” Probably the executive was using “magic quadrant” as a generic label for analyst research graphics, much like people use Kleenex for facial tissue, Frisbee for a flying disc toy or Xerox for photocopying. 

Using Magic Quadrant as a generic label is dangerous for any vendor’s relationship with the analyst community. Analysts at firms other than Gartner bridle at Gartner’s dominate mindshare in the market. Referring to the Magic Quadrant is adding salt to their wounds. Gartner analysts, on the other hand, are extremely touchy about what they feel is the misuse of their signature research deliverable by the vendor community. So for vendors this is a lose-lose situation.

This situation also applies to other high visibility analyst deliverables like the Forrester Wave and Gartner Hype Cycle.

SageCircle Technique:

Examples of analysts using blogs for research purposes

icon-social-media-blue.jpgAs we pointed out, analysts are increasingly using blogs as research development platforms so monitoring analyst blogs is a good way for analyst relations (AR) to get insights into analysts’ work-in-progress. With this information in hand, AR teams can then decide whether to join the conversation online or reach out to the analysts for a briefing or inquiry.

 Because relatively few AR teams are monitoring analyst blogs, those AR professionals that use this technique can achieve a competitive advantage by getting in early on developing ideas when they can have the most impact.

 Here are two recent examples of analysts using Continue reading

Equipping Sales for the MQ Effect: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 7]

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant can have a powerful impact on IT vendor sales cycles – anointing some vendors as a prime candidate for a sales opportunity while denying other vendors even a chance to bid. In order to exploit positive placement on a Magic Quadrant and mitigate negative placement, vendor sales executives need to work with AR to prepare and train their sales teams on certain basics about the Magic Quadrant.

To a large extent the Magic Quadrant is just another form of analyst research that can sales reps have to take into account when working with customers and prospects. However, the MQ does have some unique aspects that have to be addressed including: 

  • Multiple MQs – A vendor can be on any number of MQs, which increases the chances that a prospect will be using wrong research
  • Out-of-date MQs – Earlier versions of a MQ can be available for a long time, which can put a vendor with an improved position at a disadvantage
  • Four boxes, four responses – How a sales responds to or uses a MQ is different depending Continue reading

UBM buys Informa who bought Datamonitor who bought Ovum who bought…

In a classic “big fish eating a smaller fish eating a smaller fish” scenario, UK-based UBM announced its plan to acquire Informa. Informa earlier acquired Datatmonitor, which had acquired Ovum and Butler. Ovum, of course, had made three rapid fire acquisitions (i.e., RHK, Summit Strategies, Orbys) of its own before Datamonitor acquired it.

These serial acquisitions are distracting to management and analysts alike so research quality and timeliness could suffer.  Also, some analysts will likely think “that’s it” and start developing a personal exit strategy. Because analysts are the core of any firm, anything that could cause them to walk could dramatically impact the relevance of the firm to your AR strategies and analyst lists. Besides the impact on analysts, this latest merger might be the last straw for sales representatives and client service personnel as well.  As a consequence, AR teams need to be proactive in ascertaining potential pitfalls and opportunities this latest industry M&A move might provide.

SageCircle Technique: Steps* to immediately take:

  • Ascertain whether any of your primary analysts might be affected
  • Schedule inquiries with key analysts to Continue reading

The Danger is Complacency: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 6]

There is a certain amount of self congratulations that occur when a vendor achieves a favorable “Leader” position on a Magic Quadrant. Because they are in the “Leaders” block, vendors feel like their job is complete. The problem is that such an attitude could lead to complacency and endanger a company’s coveted status in the future. Vendors in this situation could receive a nasty surprise as competitors leapfrog them or as they slip into the Challengers or Visionaries blocks.

This is not only a problem with “Leaders” since vendors in the “Challengers” and “Visionaries” blocks also feel that they can rest on their laurels. Most surprising are “Niche” vendors who are happy merely to be mentioned on a Magic Quadrant. The messages in this post are directed to Leaders, but also apply to all vendors, no matter what their position on the MQ.

What is the Danger? SageCircle had one client go from the best Leaders position in a Magic Quadrant only to slide to the Challengers block in the next version. Why? The vendor had become complacent about Continue reading

Analysts and swag – A waste of time and money… or worse

By Carter Lusher

On Twitter this weekend there was a little round of tweets between some analysts about the worst swag (aka gifts or giveaways) they had received from tech vendors. This online conversation might continue on Monday with more analysts providing examples including naming vendors. Here are a couple of examples:

@idarose: my most inappropriate giveaway was from a bluetooth chip manufacturer who gave away a corded mobile phone headset

@jonathaneunice: Most inappropriate swag was from Sun. For several years, they’d preach Open, then give away some utterly closed, proprietary gizmo.

Most swag given to analysts – either for attending a vendor’s event or during the end-of-the-year holidays – is a waste of money and effort. Often swag sent in the mail ends up in the trash or in the firms’ break rooms for administrative staff to pick through. Event swag frequently gets left in hotel rooms because it’s too bulky to pack into an already overstuffed carry-on roller bag. Some firms are concerned about the appearance of conflict of interest so they outright forbid that their analysts accept gifts.

What is worse than a gift that is simply thrown away, are gifts that contradict the vendor’s message like the two examples above.

However, there are times when an analyst gift can Continue reading

Moving the Dot: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 5]

Repositioning your “dot’ on a Gartner Magic Quadrant does not happen just because you have a great product or service. It takes information, a plan, AR execution and avoiding mistakes. 

Expanding Your Goals – Moving the dot should not be the only goal of every analyst interaction. AR teams and spokespeople should insure that you accomplish your goal of moving the dot while working on other aspects of your analyst relationship such as competitive intelligence gathering, relationship building, training a novice analyst, strategy review, etc. Rarely will a vendor be interested in accomplishing one goal when interacting with the Gartner analyst in charge of a MQ. Some goals specifically concerning the MQ include:

  • Moving your dot, either up or to the right or both
  • Moving your competitors’ dots either down or to the left or both
  • Increasing the distance between you and competitors
  • Preventing your competitors from Continue reading

Homework – Talk to the Analyst: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 4]

It is critical for AR to thoroughly research a particular Magic Quadrant and its history. Even AR staffs that have been working with Gartner on a MQ for a long time could benefit from doing a little digging into the background of the MQ in order to separate reality from faulty memory and myth.

SageCircle Technique:

Talk with the analyst - Obviously, AR should be interacting with their Tier 1 analysts on a regular basis on a number of issues. In many cases being in charge of a MQ means automatic Tier 1 status for a Gartner analyst. Many of those interactions will provide valuable insights into the MQ and the analyst’s criteria for it. However, there needs to be a dedicated call on the MQ* that occurs once a quarter. Topics to be covered include:

  • Changes in the analyst’s responsibility, new additions to the team, both creation and peer review
  • If you are on a Magic Quadrant with more than one author, what is the current Continue reading

Published research is only the tip of the iceberg

By Carter Lusher, Strategist

One of the worst things that can happen to a vendor sales representative or a vendor executive is being blindsided by a piece of information that they did not know existed – but should have known. It makes them look uniformed and out of the loop, and can negatively impact the interaction they are currently conducting. Unfortunately for AR teams, industry analyst commentary is a prime source of “gotcha” moments for their companies’ sales representatives, CEOs, CFOs, and the PR staff.

It does not have to be that way. AR programs must work to monitor analyst opinions and commentary and provide relevant, near real-time actionable advice to impacted groups. Unfortunately, when it comes to monitoring analyst opinions, too many AR teams only capture published research notes and press quotes. As the graphic illustrates (click to enlarge), these two forms of analyst opinion are only the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of ways (see list below) that analyst opinions get into the marketplace with more being invented on a seemingly regular basis. 

The problems associated proliferating communications platforms are compounded by Continue reading

Analysts who blog versus Bloggers who analyze

icon-social-media-blue.jpgBy Carter Lusher, Strategist

Last week’s Forrester Analyst Relations Council Panel on “Analyst Relations 2.0″ was fun and interesting. There was quite a bit of diversity of opinion on the panel with KCG’s Bill Hopkins playing the self-described anti-blog/anti-Web 2.0 curmudgeon and Dana Gardner from Interarbor Solutions way on the other side playing the pro-social media fan. That left plenty of room in the middle for Jonathan Eunice from Illuminata, Forrester Senior Analyst James Kobielus and me to take a balanced approach. The moderator was Forrester VP Laura Ramos, who I count as a blog skeptic when it comes to blogging by analysts and vendors.

There was a fair amount of angst in the audience, with many AR professionals clearly wishing blogs would just go away, while others were open minded. Very few AR pros in attendence had embraced blogs personally or professionally. Many were clearly overwhelmed because of the sheer number and types of bloggers who could touch their companies.

While fun, there some something unsatisfying about the panel. One attendee e-mailed: “What struck me about the panel was it asked more questions than offering answers.” Hmm, good point. I tried to provide very specific advice (see Steps for AR teams for starting with analyst blogs), but I admit there was a lot of philosophical ramblings during the 100+ minutes of the panel. Upon reflection, I think the problem was that the panel was not asked to focus on a specific issue, rather we were given a topic that provoked entertaining discussion, but was too broad and fuzzy for hard recommendations.

Bowl of Spaghetti

Because “AR 2.0″ was clearly too broad, the organizer and moderator decided to narrow the discussion to “analyst blogs.” However, ever this re-definition of the panel topic was too broad because it encompassed the entire blogosphere. This led to panel discussion, audience questions and comments that touched on traditional analysts and bloggers without distinguishing between the type of influencer. In addition, the discussion occasionally drifted into whether AR teams and their companies should blog and Continue reading

Homework – Gather Background Information: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 3]

It is critical for AR to thoroughly research a particular Magic Quadrant and its history. Even AR staffs that have been working with Gartner on a MQ for a long time could benefit from doing a little digging into the background of the MQ in order to separate reality from faulty memory and myth.

 SageCircle Technique

Check on past Magic Quadrants - The first task is to obtain past versions of the Magic Quadrants. You can search Gartner’s research database, but frankly you still have to ask. While Gartner analysts published dozens of distinct Magic Quadrants in the traditional Research Note format every year, there are so many publishing platforms at Gartner (e.g., presentations and toolkits) that a MQ can show up in either as an original piece of research or a reprint of something published earlier. Because not all Continue reading

Common Mistakes: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 2]

For a variety of reasons, communications and IT vendor AR and executives make a number of mistakes concerning the Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) and how their companies should react to it. Decision makers at IT vendors need to take a step back and carefully consider the appropriate level of effort to put into “moving the dot.”

The first mistake is proceeding without understanding how your prospects and customers/clients value and use the MQ. You should be surveying your customer/clients and prospects about which research firms and reports they use.

The second mistake is assuming that you know what the underlying market-specific criteria and assumptions are for the MQ without talking to the appropriate analysts. Repositioning your “dot” on a Magic Quadrant doesn’t happen just because you have a great product or service. Often the most Continue reading

Don’t Obsess, Don’t Ignore: the Magic Quadrant & Tech Vendors [part 1]

Even with the blogosphere and other forms of social media, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant remains the IT market’s most highly visible piece of commentary. Because the Magic Quadrant impacts billions of dollars of corporate IT purchases, some IT vendor executives put too much emphasis on “moving the dot” which drains resources from the overall AR plan. Other vendors decide to ignore Magic Quadrants, missing an opportunity to leverage an effective marketing channel. Neither approach is 100% appropriate. In this post, we provide background on the Magic Quadrant and suggest that vendors take a middle approach between obsession and indifference.*

It is not uncommon for a SageCircle strategist to hear the following comment from an analyst relations (AR) manager: “Our execs – or even board of directors – have made improving our position on the Magic Quadrant THE (not ‘a’) goal for AR.” While ignoring the Magic Quadrant (MQ) can be perilous to a vendor’s top line, too much emphasis on a MQ can drain scarce AR resources from influencing all the analysts covering your particular market. The downside is that AR won’t be able to develop counterbalancing relationships with analysts in other firms, leaving the vendor dangerously reliant on Gartner and the MQ for positive analyst coverage.

We think it’s time that vendors take Continue reading

THE TOP 5 Common Mistakes that Analyst Relations Programs Make

5.  Vendors approach analysts with an undifferentiated message and lack of thought in their vision and strategy.

Downside – why should an analyst pay any attention to a boring, me too vendor, especially if the market is crowded and fragmented?

4.  Vendors use the same approach used for all analysts and all firms. Some firms have very bureaucratic briefing request procedures while others permit vendors and PR firms to call the analysts directly. Market researchers need numbers while advisory analysts provide customer success stories. Some analysts are very structured in the information they want and the briefing structure while other analysts even at the same firm are very informal.

Downside – analysts are narcissistic prima donnas who want to do things their way. Vendors who ignore basic differences between analysts and firms run the risk of irritating the analysts, not providing needed information and wasting the analysts’ time.

3.  Vendors provide the wrong type of information, not supporting the methods the analysts use to Continue reading

Presentation Tip: Watch out for the notes on PowerPoint slides

If you send industry analysts PowerPoint files of your presentations, do make sure that you review the text in the Notes section of each page. You’ll want to delete any text that is inappropriate to give to the analysts. This is a step that is easy to miss and which will give you great heartburn. Add this step to your standard presentation critique checklist — you do have a presentation critique checklist, right? — is a simple way to avoid reaching for the antacid pills.

BTW, sending PowerPoint and Word files is a best practice that AR managers should consider using. Providing content in Microsoft Office format makes it easier for analysts to repurpose your content. No, silly, this is not “stealing.” It is called Continue reading

IDC lays off eight analysts and 15 additional staff

logo-idc.gifTips started coming into SageCircle last night. Over the last twelve hours we have identified five six of the eight analysts. Out of respect to the analysts we will not publish the names.*

In an e-mail exchange with SageCircle, IDC Corporate Communications Director Michael Shirer released the following statement:

  • On May 20, IDC reduced its U.S. headcount by 23 — this represents 1% of IDC’s 1,680 employees worldwide.
  • Most of the staff reductions came from Continue reading

AR-Sales Partnership case study – Using a teleconference to raise Sale’s awareness of the analysts and improve AR’s strategic standing

icon-dollar-euro.jpgWho: Director of Analyst Relations at a mid-sized enterprise software vendor

Situation: The vendor’s previous CMO would not permit AR to interact with Sales so there was no outreach to the field on analyst impact and how to leverage positive analyst commentary. After a change in both the CMO and AR director positions the situation changed. The new AR director proactively sought permission from the new CMO to start interacting with Sales, which was granted with enthusiasm.

Process: The AR director teamed with the VP of field sales support to determine the best venue and outline for an initial presentation about the impact of the industry analysts. It was determined that Continue reading

Threatening analysts with canceled business if they don’t change draft research is rarely effective, often backfires

I saw this tweet in response to Best practice for responding to analyst draft research:

Good grief, threatening to cancel business or syndicated research contracts if an analyst does not change their opinion is not a smart approach to “influencing the influencers.” In fact, it may even backfire.

First, it does not make business sense for an analyst at a major firm to change research that displeases a vendor, even one that is a client. If an analyst developed a reputation for Continue reading

So, have you started planning and executing your Fall Symposium campaign yet?

Timeline for informing Fall Symposium contentHmm, let’s see, Gartner’s Fall Symposia series kicks off on October 12 with Europe, Japan and Australia following through mid-November. That is what, five months away? I’m sure that many folks are thinking that there is plenty of time to worry about educating the Gartnerians.

Alas, if that is your impression then you will not like to hear that you are already behind schedule.

In last week’s Coffee Talk, we discussed a timeline (click on image to enlarge) that AR teams should consider following in order to ensure that their information and points-of-view are reflected in Symposium presentations. This timeline sparked many interesting questions and raised some new issues. Here are a few of the questions and our responses:

Question: May seems awfully early to get started, what’s the rush?

Response: Even though the Symposia series does not start until Continue reading

AR-Sales Partnership [part 5]: Use edu-marketing to drive participation

icon-dollar-euro.jpgOk, you have successfully launched your AR-Sales Partnership Pilot Program. Now you sit and stare at the phone waiting for these selected sales reps to call you asking for help. And you wait. And you wait. And you…

A fact of corporate life is that sales representatives are completely interrupt driven and often will not remember all the tools that are available to them. As a consequence, AR needs to drive participation until the sales reps get into the habit of using AR’s support services. This will be critical to the success of your pilot program and will require resources when you extend the program to the entire sales force.  A technique we suggest is an edu-marketing campaign that uses marketing techniques to educate the Sales team about Continue reading

AR–Sales Partnership [part 4]: Take baby steps by rolling out a small pilot phase

icon-dollar-euro.jpgAR teams can impact company revenues directly through assisting sales representatives, either to overcome negative – or leverage positive – analyst commentary and research to close deals. However, AR managers often shy away from supporting Sales because they fear it will ‘open the floodgates’ to hundreds or thousands of requests. To prevent this deluge, AR can take a phased approach, rolling out a pilot project as the first step.

AR can gather needed expertise and information working with a pilot group of sales representatives (10-20), either as part of a larger AR-Sales Partnership initiative (if has Sales leadership support) or as a skunkworks project (to build the business case for AR Sales support).

Operational Objectives of a Pilot Sales Support Program

AR team members can leverage the skills and processes they use to assist analysts with information requests as a way to support Sales. To effectively Continue reading

Social media should not be a “special” activity for AR, just part of the overall AR plan

icon-social-media-blue.jpgYou do have an AR plan, don’t you?

Your strategic AR plan, the one with the charter and objectives, lists of all interactions types to be used for each purpose, service levels by analyst tier, calendar and priorities?

Ok, unfair question as many AR teams are so under the gun that a plan is often considered a luxury. The main point is that social media (e.g., blogs, Twitter, podcasts, wikis and so on) should not be considered something big and special, but merely just more forms of interactions to add to the mix.

Obviously, the various types of social media are still new to many individuals and AR teams. As a consequence, there is a learning curve to climb and a process you will need to go through to adopt these new forms of interactions. However, social media are not “special,” just like e-mail is not special. Oh, those folks that have been around for awhile will no doubt remember when there was heated debate whether e-mail was an appropriate form of interaction with analysts.

SageCircle Technique:

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