Analyst Relations budget – Use it, don’t lose it

It’s now July 22nd, about half way through the third calendar quarter. Many communications and IT vendors have budget policies in place where departments lose any budget that is not spent within a particular fiscal quarter or calendar year. AR managers frequently find it difficult to find a good use for remaining budget, especially when it might only be a few thousand dollars. Are you kicking yourself because you had had left over budget at the end of the last quarter that you did not use? In addition, you don’t want to blow any remaining budget on something that might not be used to its fullest extent, like a reprint of a so-so research note or a Gartner Advisory seat for someone who probably won’t do inquiries.

An excellent use of remaining budget is AR staff development because it increases efficiency and effectiveness, boosts staff morale and adds variety to the job. Staff development  is even more important during a recession when bonuses are meager and pay raises are not likely.

To make it easy for AR managers to spend odd amounts of end-of-the-quarter budget, SageCircle offers its services à la carte as well as by annual subscription. We have many services under $1,000 such as webinars ($95), Online SageContent Library ($395), AR briefings ($495), workshops ($495) and advisory blocks (2 hours $495, 5 hours $995) and seminars ($995).

Another advantage of SageCircle AR training offerings is that many are 90 minutes or less, making them easy to fit into a busy schedule or a regular staff call. Oh, did I mention that you can conveniently buy any SageCircle service via credit card to ensure you get it into this quarter’s purchases? We will also work around the clock to complete any paperwork you need for traditional purchase order/invoice.

Here are three examples of how you can mix-and-match SageCircle training services to meet various needs:

AR continuing education – This example assumes an experienced AR staff located in one office. The first two items are free, which of course is a great price. Using the AR DiagnosticTM as a continuing education tool is atypical, but the questions asked during the program evaluation do a great job of getting people thinking and expanding their ideas about AR. The two Blocks of Advisory Hours in this situation would be split into four 30-minute training sessions that could be incorporated into a regular staff call. There are dozens of topics that would work in 30 minutes. The 90-minute AR Briefing would be on one of our advanced topics and provides plenty of time for discussion about how to apply the topic to your specific situation. The public webinar ticket is good for a login, so having the team in a conference room to participate in the webinar means that only one ticket would have to be purchased. Then the team could stay in the conference room for a discussion after the webinar is completed.

AR Diagnostic 1 $0   $0
AR Trends Presentation 1 $0   $0
Block of Advisory (2) 1 $495   $495
Briefing, AR 1 $495   $495
Webinar ticket 1 $95   $95

New hire with no/little AR experience – This example assumes a new hire to the AR team who is smart and motivated, but has little or no experience with analyst relations best practices. The goal here is to build breadth and depth of understanding and skill to create an AR professional. The AR Effectiveness Seminar is a full day session that will build the AR foundation needed to do day-to-day AR activities. The Online SageContent Library seat provides access to an easy-to-use encyclopedia of AR best practices and tools.  The AR Briefing could be on a topic like “Influencing Gartner’s Magic Quadrant” to provide depth of understanding about a key research deliverable. Because the mini-workshop is a bundle of training, tools, content and advisory does a great job building skills for a specific task like “Maximizing Analyst Consulting Days” or “Building the Killer Analyst Briefing.”

Online Library 1 $395   $395
Briefing, AR 1 $495   $495
Mini-workshop 1 $895   $895
Seminar, AR Effectivenss 1 $995   $995
Webinar ticket 3 $95   $285

Up level staff to strategic AR – This example assumes an experience AR staff of three that has achieved solid, proactive AR. Now the AR manager wants to take the program to the next level that results in preemptive AR that accelerates AR’s ability to drive revenue growth. The first step is a custom in-house seminar built from any of SageCircle’s 32+ hours of classroom content, focusing on strategic topics. The Online SageContent Library seats provide access to advanced concepts and tools so that the team does not waste time “reinventing the wheel.” The mini-workshop would cover an advanced topic like “Launching the AR Blog” where the task requires not just training, but also advice on the launch activities and critiques of the initial blog posts.

Online Library 3 $395   $1,185
Block of Advisory (5) 1 $995   $995
In-house Seminar 1 $6,500   $6,500
Mini-workshop 1 $895   $895

Bottom Line: Yes, part of this post is shamelessly pitching SageCircle services, but there is a larger message.  Most AR teams are under resourced, so not spending all available cash is a missed opportunity.  Find ways to bank those expiring assets into resources you can use in the 2009.

To learn more about how SageCircle’s training services can be used for AR staff development, please contact SageCircle at 503-636-1500 or email “info [at] sagecircle dot com”.