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

Barbara French’s keen observation about how Forrester drives visibility for itself

Barbara French has an interesting post on her Tekrati “Keeping Tabs” blog that Forrester eclipses Apple iPhone rumors.

“…Only one IT industry analyst company could usurp rumors of a 3G iPhone with the hottest Apple story-of-the-hour among business, tech and consumer press and bloggers worldwide. That would be Forrester Research. They have proven once again that issuing a well-timed (and well promoted) vision will score more market attention than a rigorous reckoning of the here-and-now.

The viral news coverage centers on the report, “The Future Of Apple Inc. – By 2013, Apple’s Product Mix Will Make It A Credible Hub Of The Digital Home”, by J.P. Gownder and James McQuivey. …”

Check out the rest of the post for examples and Barbara’s conclusions.

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

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

Why AR is more important than PR for a Startup [Startup Saturday]

rocket-for-startups.jpgResearch by SageCircle, H&K (in multiple Technology Influencer Studies conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates), Lighthouse AR and other AR advisory groups has consistently shown that the most significant influence on purchases is peer recommendation and personal contacts.  Second is industry analyst opinion, which leads all other influence including advertising and PR.  For a startup attempting to break into an existing market or carve out a new market space this is critical information.

For a startup, traditional PR is certainly important and should not be ignored, but allocation of resources to AR can provide a higher ROI.  Press is very transient and even an outstanding article or mention does not have staying power over the long run if it gets buried in the clutter of a Google search.  Analyst reports have a much longer shelf life and may be referred to months after they are published as a relevant research note is more likely to surface during a research search on the analyst firm website.  Good research consumers will then contact the analyst firm for an update or discuss the report during an inquiry.

Industry analysts also convey information at industry events, act as sources for reporters, and can even have influence on Wall Street.  It is therefore critical that they are Continue reading

Why it is a really bad idea to cut AR, even in a recession

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgIt is common for tech vendors to cut marketing spend in a recession. Because Industry Analyst Relations (AR) is typically in the marketing department, AR is often asked to shoulder part of the cost cutting burden by cutting spending, freezing hiring, or even cutting head count. As a consequence, AR often cuts back on the total number of interactions it conducts with key analysts. This can be short sighted for a variety of reasons:

  • Analysts interact with many communities on a daily basis – As we pointed out in involving the analysts early and often, analysts do a significant number of touches each and every day with IT buyers, reporters, financial analysts and others. Providing analysts with a continual stream of information about your company, customer stories, and so on ensures that the analysts will properly position you with IT buyers, press, investors, et cetera.
  • Top-of-mind presence is ephemeral – Because the analysts have so many interactions and gather so many data points, it is easy for a vendor to get pushed lower in the analysts’ consciousness unless Continue reading

Notes on managing your budget in a recession — SageCircle’s Coffee Talk

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgOn Tuesday April 1 SageCircle conducted a web-based Coffee Talk around the potential impacts of budget cuts and how AR teams can best handle them.  We began with a few slides to review the techniques for managing a budget and then opened the session to questions from the participants.

Often when resources are trimmed certain areas experience across-the-board and significant cuts.  While some of these areas can be quick to recover in the future analyst relations is generally not one of them.  Developing relationships that can truly provide a positive revenue impact takes sustained effort over time.  Once your program begins to slip the effort required to Continue reading

Training the sales reps: keep it simple, short, small words [Vendor Sales]

icon-dollar-euro.jpgOK, that title was not fair to the sales team, but it makes a good point about how to do training.  Often AR teams try to teach sales so much about analysts that they overwhelm them and miss the real point.

The sales team needs basic information about who the analysts really are, which ones you believe influence your revenues, and how to deal with both positive and negative commentary.  They should also understand how to feed information back to the AR team.  They don’t need extensive information, but material that is brief, understandable, and relevant.  Establishing a communications channel with sales is more important than Continue reading

Be Analyst Centric, not Company Centric

One of the greatest failings of inexperienced AR teams, and occasionally even seasoned AR professionals is not focusing on the analyst needs.  In a recent post about the Analyst Hierarchy of Needs we explained some issues of content.  However, schedule is also a major consideration.  Too often the AR plan is driven in the same manner as PR – with a focus on the company events, announcements, and products.  Analysts live on a different timetable and are focused on clients, markets, and trends.  Their needs, for scheduled research documents, potential speaking events, and in responding to client inquiries are the driving forces – not your announcement timetable.

analyst-centric-not-company-centric-75h.jpg

As you develop your interaction calendar and plans for analyst contacts you need to focus on Continue reading

You could end up buried deep in the “Niche” by insisting on being added to a MQ before you are ready

Niche = “Losers” on the Magic QuadrantGartner’s Magic Quadrant is probably the iconic piece of analyst research. With its visibility and status, it also has enormous influence on vendor sales opportunities, especially when it comes time for IT buyers to draw up the all-important vendor short lists.

Because of this influence on short lists, communications and IT vendor executives sometimes obsess over the “MQ” for their markets and put great pressure on their AR teams to get placement on MQs they are not on. This can actually be a counterproductive move because vendors who really should not be on a MQ will get stuck in the lower left hand corner (click on graphic to enlarge). Even thought this part of the MQ is labeled “Niche,” too many IT buyers translate that label into “Loser.” Getting perceived as a “Loser” can put a vendor’s sales at a disadvantage in trying to get into an opportunity because it is so much more difficult to explain away why you are not a “Loser.” than explaining why your company was not included on a version of a MQ.

Some Gartner analysts publicly admit that this mental relabeling occurs and try to mitigate Continue reading

Budget cutting part two — Alternate solutions for analyst contracts

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgLast week (see Budgeting cutting can help AR focus and innovate) we suggested that potential budget cuts may have the effect of causing AR teams to prioritize and innovate in their programs and might not always be as negative as when first viewed.  Another way to deal with the possible cuts in funding that follow any economic slowing is to look to alternative solutions.  These techniques obviously take precious time and effort that AR teams also don’t have, but may be reasonable choices when money is not available.

Analyst seat holder contracts

Review each analyst contract for usage and determine business group seat holders who need to be eliminated.  Then contact the high value and high usage seat holders to see if the business group can pick up some or all of the cost.  Be prepared to justify the cost as the business group Continue reading

Budget cutting can help AR focus and innovate

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgIt is a fact of life that because of the reports of economic slowing, marketing departments at communications and IT vendors are considering budget cuts. Because most analyst relations teams report to marketing, there will be trickle down cuts hitting AR as well. Unfortunately, most AR functions are already short of staff and funding resources so the natural reaction is to perceive that budget cuts are only bad. However, if AR managers use the budget cutting as an opportunity to rethink how they do business the cutting exercise can have at least some positive outcomes.

Any business function can accumulate outdated expenses, activities and techniques like barnacles on a ship. An example can be always buying 20 advisory seats during the annual analyst services contract renewal even though only 14 are really being actively used. Another example is spending too much money on analyst events by selecting fancy destination hotels when analysts would prefer a more convenient and often cheaper location. Yet another example is buying expo floor booth space at firm conferences because “everybody knows” that they are great sources of leads when no investigation of lead generation effectiveness has been done for years, if ever.

Besides eliminating unnecessary spending, a budget cutting exercise can also surface innovative approaches to accomplish tasks that actually might be more effective done in some other way. An example here is substituting “Deep Dives” for the annual Continue reading

Do your customers assume that Gartner or other analysts have done all the due diligence? [for Vendor Sales]

icon-dollar-euro.jpgAn analyst relations (AR) manager gave me a call this week with an interesting tid-bit that completely reinforces the recent postings about vendor sales reps asking about analyst usage, analyst myth #1  and how IT managers should use Waves and Magic Quadrants.
 
The AR manager was recently at their software company’s annual sales kick off meeting. There was a customer panel taking questions from a moderator and the sales reps in the audience. One question was “How or do you use the analyst firms to make decisions?” One customer said that Continue reading

Now that is not the way to exploit an expensive Magic Quadrant reprint

socialtext-open-link-to-a-gartner-mq.jpgI accidently came across an unsecured link to a PDF of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Team Collaboration and Social Software, 2007 courtesy of (vendor). This was a nice little treat because I was about ready to chat with one of (vendor)’s competitors and it good to see what Gartner had to say.

For (vendor), it is a classic mistake to not require someone who wants a copy to register so that the company can capture the potential prospect’s contact information for later use. Furthermore, Socialtext could be giving their competitors’ a free ride off their expensive reprint, because Continue reading

IT managers, it’s never, ever only about the upper right dot when it comes to Forrester Waves or Gartner Magic Quadrants

icon-phone-headset.jpgOne of the things that drives vendors – and even some Gartner and Forrester analysts – crazy is when an IT buyer zeros in on the vendors in the upper right hand corner of a Forrester Wave or Magic Quadrant to the exclusion of all other vendors. It is human nature to go for those who are perceived as tops in their market. Alas, that is not how these highly visible research graphics should be used. Rather IT managers should be looking to align their Continue reading

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