IT 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 questions that are too open-ended like “How do you rank us?” or “What do you think of our message?” The scenarios should be crisp and concise so that two or three could be fit into a 30-minute inquiry (yes, you have to be an analyst client to use this technique). In order to generate the scenarios, it would be useful to confer with colleagues in marketing and sales. The same set of scenarios should be used with a number of analysts in order to have a consistent set of data points to compare. (Online SageContentTM Library clients can look up “Spoken Word Audits” for how-to best practices, sample scenarios and SageToolsTM.)
A good Spoken Word Audit (SWA) Program also includes performing analyst surveys at regular intervals to track and report on an AR program’s performance over time. While most of the analysts you survey will be the ones ranked high on your analyst lists, you can also add mid-level analysts as well. A well established SWA program will survey three to five analysts per month with each analyst getting surveyed twice a year.
While the SWA does require some upfront work, the ongoing effort is only the monthly inquiries, the data capture, and the analysis. The inquiry for a SWA interview also serves other purposes including your regular “top of mind” touch, making the analyst feel like they are a valued advisor (see Analyst Hierarchy of Needs), providing data for your measurement program, and obtaining insights to use with your AR-Sales Partnership Program.
To learn more about this powerful technique, sign up for SageCircle’s Auditing the Spoken Word webinar. These 90-minute continuing education sessions provide actionable, practical best practices in a short and succinct manner. There is ample time for questions and answers to complement the presentation. At only $95, SageCircle Webinars are a prudent investment to raise the effectiveness and efficiency of AR programs. Click here for more information and to register for either the March 10th at 12 PM PST or March 19th at 12 PM PST sessions.
- Add a SWA program to your AR Strategic and Tactical Plan
- Set up a pilot project targeting six analysts over two months
- Work with marketing and sales to generate three scenarios to test
- SageCircle Advisory clients should use their inquiry privilege to have a strategist review the pilot project and scenarios
- SageCircle inquiry can be used to role play how the audit works and the type of give-and-take needed with the analyst
- Execute the inquiries and gather the initial data points
- Capture the information and plot the results on a graph
- Analyze any “ah ha!”s and put into place a follow up campaign
- After the pilot phase is completed, adjust the process, type of scenarios, and analysts on the list
- Put into place an ongoing full-fledged audit program.
Bottom Line: Auditing the analysts’ spoken words is a high value activity that most if not all AR programs should include as part of their regular activities.
Question: What are the barriers you fact to implementing a spoken word audit program?
SageCircle can make it easy for AR teams to audit the analysts’ spoken words in a way that makes sense for their individual situations. We have best practices, SageToolsTM, examples and advice ready to help you launch an easy-to-manage opinion monitoring program. As to out-tasking Spoken Word Audits to third parties, SageCircle does not offer this service. However, we know the firms that do and provide Advisory clients with insights on which firm to use and how to manage the relationship. Give us a call at 503-636-1500 or send an email to info [at] sagecircle.com to arrange a briefing on how we can help launch a spoken word audit program.
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