We have always received requests from directors of top analyst relations (AR) programs to define “World-Class AR.” These directors want to take their programs to the next level and they want to know the elements that characterize strategic AR. They also know that they require a plan for getting there. SageCircle has defined elements of this plan in its research on “The AR Effectiveness Matrix: Stages of AR Maturity, with the “Leading Edge” (Stage 3) representing world class AR.
However, to provide a comprehensive response to these requests, we developed a 50-page report that is now a core component of the Online SageContentTM Library. In the process, we learned that 1) no one had developed a comprehensive vision yet and, if developed, a 2) comprehensive vision would have to be flexible enough to adapt to AR directors’ specific business needs. SageCircle built in this flexibility by focusing on how AR programs deliver business value to their companies (see Keys for World Class AR box).
While the report provides a comprehensive overview of the components that make-up ‘Leading Edge’ AR programs, it leaves open the question: “How do we get there from here? This process is not simple (a “leap over tall buildings in a single bound” project). Rather, achieving ‘Leading Edge’ status requires AR VPs and Directors to develop a high-level roadmap for how they want to grow over the next two to three years. This long-term vision ensures that near-term investments in infrastructure, organization or staffing do not become barriers to next generation ‘Leading Edge’ AR strategies and tools.
To lay the groundwork for this vision, AR can use its Strategic & Tactical Plan. While the plan primarily focuses on achieving near-term goals, especially sales support, it also includes high-level discussion of future direction and investments. This discussion educates executives on AR’s bottom-line impact, increasing its ability to secure long-term commitments for migrating to the ‘Leading Edge.’ Since many AR VPs and Directors have not been asked to develop a long-term strategic vision or prove AR’s value in the past, a good place to begin might be educating themselves about the issues and techniques.
BTW, here at SageCircle we prefer the terms “best-in-class” or “leading edge” over “world class” because they take into account the different situations that AR programs find themselves in. For example, best-in-class or leading edge labels permits us to look at markets (e.g., software vs. services), maturity (startup vs. mature) and size (a $200m run rate vs. $20 billion). Whereas world class implies the best regardless of circumstances, our labels gives us the flexibility to define the standards different for a global tech behemoth and an emerging technology startup. However, the term “world class” is very common and popular so we use that as well.
- Develop a vision for where the AR program will be in two to four years
- Start incorporating appropriate investments in the AR Strategic & Tactical Plan
Bottom Line: Many AR directors want to evolve their programs to “Leading Edge” status, providing competitive sales advantage to their companies. In order to make the transition to “Leading Edge,” AR programs need to include a long-term vision in their AR Strategic & Tactical Plans.
Question: Are you exclusively focused on the immediate AR activities?