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

Spoken word audits are great tools and not hard to do

AR Metrics & MeasurementIT and telecommunications industry analysts often provide research and recommendations through the classic medium of the spoken word, especially during phone-based inquiry. Unfortunately, there is no clipping service that makes it easy for analyst relations programs to determine what analysts are saying during these inquiries. 

SageCircle developed a technique we call a “Spoken Word Audit” (click here for concept definition) that is rather straightforward and does not require significant labor, but does require preparation, dedication, consistency and follow up.

Why should an audit of the analyst’s spoken word be put into place? The audit has a number of purposes:

  • Obtain information to help sales reps rebut negative commentary (click here for a related post)
  • Gather intelligence on how the analysts are positioning the company
  • Measure the effectiveness of the AR program
  • Validate the efficacy of the marketing message
  • Provide an alternative to using only published research and press quotes for tracking analysts

The primary method for doing this type of audit is talking with analysts and posing a set of specific scenarios in order to gauge how well the analyst understands the vendor’s positioning and messaging based on the analysts’ answers. The scenarios should be very specific and incorporate elements that measure the various aspects of the vendor’s message, strategy, and tactics.

By being very specific you can eliminate the skewed results that would be generated by 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:

Defining “Spoken Word Audit”

n:  A technique to determine what opinions analysts are giving verbally to their clients and if those verbal opinions differ from published opinions. Spoken Word Audits are considered a critical activity because advisory analysts like Gartner influence in-progress sales opportunities significantly via phone-based inquiries with enterprise clients, typically IT managers. 

Spoken Word Audits consist of talking with analysts and posing a set of specific scenarios in order to gauge how well the analyst understands the vendor’s positioning and messaging based on the analysts’ answers. The scenarios should be very specific and incorporate elements that measure the various aspects of the vendor’s message, strategy and tactics. Spoken Word Audits are conducted periodically with the same analysts and similar scenarios in order to measure how analysts’ opinions are being changed by AR activities.

Rebutting the spoken word – can you really know what analysts are saying? [AR practitioner question]

Question: Is it possible to respond to something an analyst says? 

Advice: It is not only possible to respond to the analysts’ spoken word, it is highly recommended. Obviously, it is more difficult to respond to the spoken word than to respond to written research, but in many cases, the stakes are much higher because actual sales hang in the balance.

First, you need to find out what the analyst has actually said. It many cases, this task requires investigation on AR’s part because you are hearing about the analyst’s conversation second- or third-hand. In most cases, AR is hearing about an analyst’s verbal comments from one of their company’s sales representatives – after a sales deal has been impacted negatively. Rather than acting immediately on what the sales rep thinks was said (e.g. sometimes the sales rep gets the analyst’s name or firm wrong, or does not recall all the details of the conversation), AR should coordinate with the vendor sales rep to go back to the prospect and find out exactly what transpired. Investigation need not take a long time or generate too much stress on AR’s part. The investigation phase includes talking with the vendor sales rep, the prospect and the analyst (Online SageContentTM Library (OSL) clients can look up “Responding to Analyst Impacts- Investigation Phase” for more information, Advisory clients can set up an inquiry to get the best practices and advice on applying them).

Once AR staffers have determined as best they can what the analyst actually said, AR can advise the sales rep on how to repair the damage to the deal. Then, AR can proceed – carefully – to Continue reading

How third parties can help with data collection

AR Metrics & MeasurementAs was mentioned in Out-tasking AR Activities, measurement work is a prime candidate for out-tasking. There are various firms that can assist AR programs with measurement program design, gathering, and analyzing data. Some examples include: 

Measurement program designSageCircle has proven intellectual property and templates to help AR teams set up practical and effective measurement programs.

ARchitectTM - ARinsights‘ collaborative application and integrated database makes data collection, querying, and reporting easy. AR practitioners can accomplish in seconds what used to take hours of manual effort. SageCircle strategists are experts in how to leverage ARchitect as part of a measurement program.

Spoken Word Audits - A variety of firms provide services which are similar to SageCircle’s suggested technique for Spoken Word Audits. The Spoken Word Audit uncovers what analysts are saying about your products/services to end-users during Continue reading

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