Archive | February, 2010

Gartner to present at March IIAR London Forum

For our next IIAR London Forum on March 10th, we’re delighted to welcome Alexander Drobik, Managing VP Research for Business Applications & Processes with Gartner, as our guest speaker. Alexander will be discussing Gartner’s research methodology. The Forum kicks off at 3:45 p.m. and a limited number of guest places are available for those who have not previously been to an IIAR event.

For more information, please contact IIAR Secretary Hannah Kirkman at hkirkman (at) analystrelations (dot) org.

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[GUEST POST] Analyst Relations Basics – part two

NB This is a cross-post from the Buzz Method blog, where it was originally posted in November 2009 as the second in a series of articles on Analyst Relations basics. Please note that the views expressed within the article do not necessarily reflect those of the IIAR – they are the opinion of Dominic Pannell, founder of Buzz Method Ltd.

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Should the analysts be blogging?

Phil Fersht (ex. AMR) started an interesting conversation on his Outsourcing Blog: Horses for Sources with a post titled  The great analyst firewall: will banning analysts from blogging damage the traditional research business, or help create an entirely new one?

I really like those quotes in particular, the first one depicts the onset of the analyst scene in the noughties (IMHO Phil, it happened a bit before though):The Skills of Star Performers Aren’t Portable

The “rock star” analyst had arrived. People paid good money to spend time with these people, to hear their views, use them as a sounding-board, or just to be associated with them. And their growing corporate stables certainly didn’t refuse the increasing moneys that came rolling in off the back of their growing relationships and influence. The rock stars created buzz and drove the industry, challenging both vendors and customers to innovate and transform business models.

However, like anything else, corporates like to monetize their brands to the max, scale their businesses and drive down their costs. It’s business economics one-on-one, and the big analyst firms are no different.

And its consequence:

We want Bill, not Ben

Having their clients say “I want Bill, not Ben” was (and still is) infuriating to the analyst firms. They want their clients to pay the same for the 28-year old fresh from her MBA, than they did for the rock stars of yesteryear. And they’re currently succeeding, as there aren’t too many alternatives right now.

Now, as a self-confessed “ex-Rockstar” puts it, it doesn’t go without implications for the business model, and maybe this is why Forrester, but also Gartner restricts analysts to blogging on their coverage areas to their corporate site, while Ovum doesn’t even feature their analyst bios on their extranets:

A (now departed for vendor land) fellow ex-analyst at IDC used to say that most of the firms could never figure out how to deal with an analyst transitioning from labor to talent since you pay each of those people in very different ways. Talent drives revenues, but paying people as talent is bad for profit plans.

To me this is quite obvious: the result of analysts work (read when paid by their employers) is intellectual property. And since that IP is not only created during business hours (whatever that means nowadays), it rightly belong to the analyst firms -just like inventions and patents they might come up with. This is purely hypothetical because never has one ever heard of a patent filed by an IT analyst. (DISCLAIMER: yes, provocative statement, but who knows we might learn something cool from the comments of this posts?)

So, just get over it, who gives a damn anyway? BTW, check Josh’s comment in the thread and you’ll see the Forrester blogs debate has no raison d’être. Merv also blogger here about the different policies here, good wrap up with lots of quotes.

More intriguing are firms without a presence at all in the online conversation -I’d say they’re missing out, both on branding, influence, research validation, etc… There’s little evidence to back this up (cf. Gerry‘s comment).

So, where does it lead us? One sub-header gives up a clue to the real issue, and that’s way beyond blogging:

Aren’t analysts supposed to create buzz?

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[GUEST POST] Analyst Relations Basics – part one

NB This is a cross-post from the Buzz Method blog, where it was originally posted in November 2009 as the first in a series of articles on Analyst Relations basics. Please note that the views expressed within the article do not necessarily reflect those of the IIAR – they are the opinion of Dominic Pannell, founder of Buzz Method Ltd.

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Around Martin Hingley from ITCandor in 10 questions

Martin Hingley is one of the best known analysts in Europe. He really came to prominence during his long stint at IDC where he was Chief Research Officer for EMEA.

Martin recently set up his own analyst firm, ITCandor.  On his blog, there’s lots more information and the useful, interesting insights you’d expect.

1. What are your coverage areas?
The ITC Downturn and Recovery– at the last IIAR meeting I attended, I predicted that the ITC recovery would be over on July 5th 2010 – I’m hoping you’re going to invite me back to remonstrate or congratulate.

Cloud Computing – I started looking at this way back in March 2008. I’ve spent much of the last year interviewing customers, small and large vendors and have published a number of popular posts and presentations.

Corporate And Social Responsibility – documenting the ‘unique practices’ large suppliers are pursuing in order to do some good to their stakeholders. I’ve been writing about social development activities in Africa, as well as the development of the ‘disposal channel’. Despite the failure of the Copenhagen summit this area is going to become increasingly vital.

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IDC hosts IIAR Silicon Valley meeting

IDC is hosting the next IIAR Silicon Valley meeting at its popular IDC Directions conference on March 10. For details or to RSVP contact me directly at [email protected]

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[GUEST POST] How should AR pros use online channels to increase influence on their target prospects?

This is the third and final post in a series of thought pieces on the role of online channels in influence. The first two articles are here and here. [For more discussion on the role and nature of influence see my blog, Infuse.]

There’s little doubt that online channels are important. I don’t believe that they are the whole story in measuring influence, but they are essential in reaching influencers.

There are two primary uses of online channels in an influencer relations programme:

  1. Tracking what influencers do: online media don’t help identify influencers (I assert), but they are useful in post-identification analysis. What are influencers blogging on, are they Twittering, what webcasts and podcasts are they involved in, and so on. You can use online tools to track what influencers are doing and saying, even what they’re saying about you.
  2. Engaging with influencers. If influencers are blogging and Tweeting, then that’s where you need to be too. If they’re on Facebook and LinkedIn then connect to them there. Comment on their blogs, request guest blog posts, follow them on Twitter. Be where they are.

Of course, if influencers are not online, then there’s no point in you trying to find them and interact with them there. Some influencers eschew online channels for communication, because of the time it diverts from other activities. (Seth Godin claims that he’d lose 6 hours per day if he Tweeted.)

I know some markets (web development, for example) where 100% of the influencer community blogs and uses discussion forums. I also know of tech markets where nearly 0% of influencers use online channels: they live in a face-to-face world. Most tech markets, but not all, have a spread of online- and offline-oriented influencers (and many influencers, of course, are both).

Make sure you know where your influencers are.

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Next IIAR discussion group on linking AR with sales

Our next monthly discussion group teleconference is next Monday, February 22nd, on the topic of linking AR with sales.

The call will be lead by Ed Gyurko, who is currently authoring a Best Practice white paper on this topic for the IIAR. Ed will be joined by Allen Valahu from Accenture.

IIAR members who would like to join the call, please contact Hannah Kirkman for dial in details.

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Gartner is growing, its end-user influence as well

Interesting comment from Carter in his post about Gartner’s earnings Gartner Q4 and full year 2009 earnings – implications for analyst relations and research clients » SageCircle Blog:

AR teams should use Gartner’s growth in enterprise clients as an education tool with stakeholders and executive sponsors. Rather than experiencing shrinking influence in this recession, Gartner has increased its influence because of the business value it offers to enterprise clients and its ability to leverage the largest sales force in the analyst industry.

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[JOB POSTING] Industry Analyst Relations Manager, £50-65k base + bens London or Hampshire

Connections - Recruiting Success!
Industry Analyst Relations Manager, £50-65k base + bens London or Hampshire

Do you drive market trends? Can you utilise Research & Industry data firms to segment business opportunities? Using your pro-active, creative, entrepreneurial spirit you will be developing compelling customised marketing plans to increase our International footprint. We are a recognised Software brand name, Microsoft & Cisco partner experiencing rapid growth.

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AR Cafe with Efrem Mallach

Please join the IIAR for a rare opportunity to meet Efrem Mallach, who is in London to launch the forthcoming third edition of his book ‘Win them over’, the first published guide to corporate AR and consultant relations programmes. The AR Café will meet from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. GMT on Monday February 15th at the ICA on the Mall in London, and will be hosted by IIAR board member David Taylor. Please RSVP to David at dtaylor (at) analystrelations (dot) org or  if you would like to attend.

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[GUEST POST] Measuring online influence

This second post on online influence looks at how one might measure influence using online metrics. It follows on from last week’s post which posed a lot of questions, but few answers. Fair cop.

But first, I think there are a couple of principles of influence to consider:

1. People buy people. Therefore influence measures need to identify individuals. It’s not sufficient to conclude that Gartner (for example) is influential – duh. Vendors need to know (a) who within Gartner is influential, (b) what’s their influence relative to other analyst influencers, and (c) what’s their influence relative to other non-analyst influencers. Influence isn’t distributed equally, either within organisations or throughout the market.

2. Influence is multi-dimensional. Some influencers are subject gurus, some command statutory authority, some are thought leaders and idea planters, some structure the financial elements of procurement, and so on. It’s important to understand why someone is influential, as much as the fact that they are influential.

So. Let’s look at some of the ways influence claims to be measured online:

– Citations – this measures the number of times a source refers back to an originating source. Google PageRank works this way: it rates pages highly if other people link back to it. It’s also how academic research works: a recent paper will refer to previous papers, and the more references a paper gets the more influential it is considered to be. Its strength is its weakness – it will persist in referring back to previously cited sources, even if they become superceded. It also build in something called the Matthew effect, where longevity is favoured over originality.

– Connections – how many outbound links a source has. LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter (following) and other social networks work this way. Count the connections to determine how well connected the person is. It’s also easy to fake, by link swaps, indiscriminate “friending” and so on.

– Subscriptions and readership – Technorati works this way, measuring the number of readers a blog has, and Twitter also publishes this information as followers.

– Noise – references to subjects and/or individual firms. Radian 6, Techrigy, and a bunch of other providers do this, measuring the number of times your firm is mentioned. Some also claim to measure the sentiment of the mention, usually using natural language processing tech.

All of these measures are indicators of online activity, and you can see the usefulness of them, as far as they go. They are, in my view, the equivalent of PR clippings services.

However, none of them measure whether the critical community, decision makers, are remotely influenced by online channels. It’s always necessary to ask: Influence on whom? Do any of these measures accurately assess the impact on real decision makers? In other words, do they measure the likely impact on behaviour of a buyer? Because if they don’t, if they measure a vague notion of industry activity or sentiment, then do they really reflect the ecosystem of influencers that impacts decisions?

More critically, can vendors construct marketing programmes around these measures to improve knowledge, lead generation and useful sales collateral? Because if they can’t, what are these measures useful for?

Tssk – more questions.That last one was rhetorical.

Next week’s post will probably pose more questions about how AR can use online channels to increase influence on their firms’ prospective customers.

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Around Allan Behrens in 10 questions

Allan Behrens, TaxalToday, from postcardesque Peaks District, comes the interview from Allan Behrens, ex. Cambashi and now having started his own company called Taxal (blog, twitter). I bet you’ll never figure out where the name comes from but no, he doesn’t advises bankers and MP’s on avoiding the taxman.

1. What are your coverage areas?
We’re focused on the use and enablement of IT in industry and helping IT providers make it a reality. Our focus is on technologies, a sub-set of key business sectors, sales channels, business development and management and execution consulting

2. What are your opinions of the IT Analysis Marketplace and where do you see it going?
Many competent people, some with too little motivation to listen! With the recent spate of acquisitions it appears that the industry is moving closer to a two tiered environment – the very large and very small.

3. What’s your typical day like?
Emails, calls, research, publishing, projects and visits, often interspersed with operational issues and demands for attention from my better half.

4. Now, c’mon, tell me an AR horror story?
Not one regarding actual analysis per se. The most memorable nightmare I had on an analyst visit was when I missed a return flight from Dublin to Manchester; in this case an absolutely critical one scheduled to have me home in time to catch a holiday connection with my long-suffering wife. IBM’s AR team were stars in sorting out the chaos – wife was delighted (nay relieved)! Whew.

5. How do you position your firm? What is your business model?
Our revenues are principally vendor led with significant end-user touch and elements coming from governmental and investor communities. We publish insight and non-confidential research in the press and on our web site.

6. What is your research methodology?
This really depends on the project We are purely project led at this time. We tailor our methods and resource utilisation based on what’s needed to deliver the optimum output.

7. Tell us about one good AR practice you’ve experienced or one good AR event you’ve atttended.
Making sure the analysts actually get the collaterals they’re promised after an event – drives me nuts and costs time. Also being responsive is good practice……

8. What are your offerings and key deliverables?
Predominantly presentations, workshops, reports and publications

9. Any hobbies or favourite restaurant / food that you’d like to share?
Hmm tricky. Best food by far is my local pub but I wouldn’t want to name it in case it gets inundated and prices go up! Not too much of an issue as it’s in the Cheshire countryside and far from the madding crowd – friends can always contact me directly for the name.

10. What is your biggest challenges for the upcoming 6 months? And for the next 30 mn?
Next six month, continuing to grow the business (from a standing start late last year) and exceeding my customers expectations! Corny but true. Next 30 minutes, heads down to meet my deadlines (see second response of the first part of this question).

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IIAR launches new India chapter

Aarti PatilCoinciding with NASSCOM 2010, the IIAR is expanding its global presence with the launch of its India Chapter. This is in line with the association’s mission to raise awareness of analyst relations best practices and to develop the global community amongst AR  professionals.

Mumbai-based AR professional Aarti Patil, who’s the AR practice head at Syntel Inc, will lead the effort.

While at the event, February 9 to 11th, Aarti is interested in meeting up with fellow AR managers to get input on what would make the chapter successful. The best way to reach Aarti is via her email – Apatil (at) analystrelations dot org.

Stay tuned for the launch of other local IIAR chapters around the world in 2010!

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[GUEST POST] What are My Secret AR Weapons?

I, like others am driven to compete, produce the best results….or in other words, Win!

I know that I am not alone in this, and am competing for analysts time and attention, not to mention doing everything I can for the highest rating possible.  So I instinctively know that others are sucking up the remaining analyst time with a message that favors them once my time is up.  So I have to get the time, and make it as meaningful as possible.

I rely on a few tactics that have morphed over the years, but are still true today.

NUMBER 1, IT’S ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP

This takes time, but it is important to know the other person.  I take the time to talk about their children, pets, or at least read their social media which tells me about them as a person.  This can set the tone for a relationship, and you also can find the common ground to have more than just a perfunctory relationship.

What do you get out of it?  Many things like trust (which matters in good or bad times), an answered email, tweet, or any other form of communication.  I talk to analysts and they frankly have email overload and/or avoidance.  That means if they see it from you, there is a decision on whether to look at it (or take the call) or brush it off to the dustpile.

My advice is to take the time to build a relationship by knowing them, then helping them by going out of your way to make the transaction more meaningful.  You will see results from it, like the answer you were looking for.  It’s almost like real estate but instead of location, it’s relationship, relationship, relationship.

NUMBER 2, WHAT IS THEIR BACK CHANNEL

Further on the issue of communicating with the analyst is how to avoid their overload.  There is some method they choose that they rank as the one to answer.  It could be twitter, email (a personal account could be an option here), a text….whatever.  Once you build the relationship, ask them in a crunch, how can I reach you.  Murphy’ law will come into play at some point.   The analyst will be unavailable when you need them (right now) and the back channel is the way.

A word of advice.  If you abuse this, it negates the purpose of having a back channel.

NUMBER 3, IS MY EXECUTIVE THE BEST HE/SHE CAN BE?

At some point, it’s the executive and the analyst and it’s out of your hands.  The can make or break it for you.  Pick the right one for the right briefing.  Tell them how to answer to the analyst base on the relationship you have built and their nuances.

Another issue is how and what you tell.  Sometimes you can state the obvious.  Other times you need to absolutely not answer  a question that will sink your ship.  Having the executive ready to know where the landmines are.   One in A/R must realize that not all are called out to be an effective spokesperson.  Here is a discourse on executives.

If they fall down and you know it, you have to get back to the analyst and sweep up the damage.  Get another executive or knowlegable person to fix the mess.

The best of all worlds is when you get the relationship (here’s that word again) with and executive, and they know how to tell the right story and they build a relationship with analyst also.

Point of interest:  You must also make sure that they know the difference between a press briefing and an analyst briefing.   What is off limits and how far can you push the information limits (NDA may be needed).   I want my execs to tell almost everything including some warts.   This makes the story believable, especially when you are early in the announcement cycle.  This gets you buy in, or if you know a certain analyst is anti-your-message, you’ll know not to go there at announcement time.

Is this a comprehensive list, by no means, mostly because you are dealing with people  so outcomes are not predictable.  Will it work?  Most times as long as you stick to the rules.  Will you have issues or times when everything falls apart?  Yes, and you have to pick yourself up and begin again, it could even lead you to a better relationship.

I graduated from the school of hard knocks, with a PH.D.  If I’d have known this earlier on in my career, it would have avoided many troubling times.  Perhaps that’s how I learned to use these tactics?

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Sourcing Advisory Relations – Highlights of January Forum Discussion

Last week the IIAR held its first London Forum meeting of 2010 at Tech Mahindra’s London office. The featured topic was sourcing provider relations and a stellar panel was on hand to provide its take on commonalities and differences between AR and sourcing advisory relations; the panel included:

Key takeaways from the discussion:

  • The trend for end-users to bring in sourcing advisory firms to manage deals is on the increase
  • The traditional lines between what separates a sourcing advisory firm and an industry analyst firm are blurring (ie Gartner Consulting and Altimeter). As a result, more AR managers may find themselves responsible for building relationships with sourcing firms
  • Sourcing advisory firms admit that they have not done the best job of making it easy for vendors to build relationships with them
  • In some ways, the needs of sourcing advisory firms are similar to those of industry analysts. They like to have one or two central points of contact at an organization, for example, so they can get quick responses to requests for information. Some firms prefer to have a microsite on a vendor’s website to access information quickly.
  • Personal contacts are important and what differentiates a good sourcing advisory relations contact is that they act as a facilitator for their organisation, not a blocker.
  • Most sourcing advisory firms get to know vendors through inviting them into an RFP, and they advise vendors to get to know them through deals. The view of the sourcing advisors is that sourcing advisory relations has to sit in sales.
  • Sourcing advisors don’t want marketing or PR speak. They want an honest and direct discussion about what a vendor’s capabilities are – what it does well and doesn’t do well, and what markets it plays in

Moving forward, IIAR member David Rossiter is working on a whitepaper focusing on sourcing advisory relations. If you have examples of best practice or anecdotes to share on this topic, please let him know (DM @davidrossiter).

Furthermore, the IIAR would like to offer more cafes and teleconferences on the topic of sourcing advisory relations. Please email us if you have any suggestions.

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Downfall: Gartner MQ and learnings

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjG8KivYFZ0]

Late last week I resurrected a common meme around Hitler’s downfall video but this time applied it to analyst relations.

In the original post, I simply let the parody of the video speak for itself but after reviewing the many comments on the blog and on twitter, I have noticed that quite a few people are commenting about what they can learn from this.

Needless to say, when AR is done well the scenario that this video portrays should never happen. Here are some of the key points:

There is some argument as to whether we need to do any EMEA outreach or whether it is sufficient to just speak to those in the US

Being an EMEA AR pro, this one really irks me. Even though the US analysts may sometimes be the lead for a specific topic area, this is not always the case. What’s more when end users wish to buy a solution they often ask the local analysts in their region for guidance. If you haven’t spoken to them, how can you hope for positive commentary. Finally the EMEA analysts can often give valuable advice regarding how to refine the messaging to make it more relevant for their geography as well as give advice on local issues that may not be important in other regions.

We are only positioned as a challenger. They scored us down because we didn’t provide enough customer evidence

There should never be any surprises when it comes to the MQ being published. Make sure you run plenty of inquiries and SAS days to fully understand where the analysts are positioning you and why and what you need to do to change their perception. Do the process and document everything and obviously you should make sure that your executive team are prepared for the eventual placement and understand why you are positioned where you are.

We were positioned well in the Forrester Wave… a well-respected alternative

Always investigate alternatives. Despite many execs and sales people often being incapably of looking beyond the MQ, there are many tools and analysts out there. It all depends on your objectives and defining which solution is right for you.

There are many more things you can take from this video as I have tried to include as many clichés as possible. Most importantly remember that this is created in jest as a parody for our wonderful AR industry. I hope you like it.

 

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[Guest Post] Have online channels changed the nature of influence?

Determining the impact of the growth in online channels such as social media is one of the things that taxes most of us. I’m forever seeing new ‘influencer tracker’ services pop up, and in the world of analyst relations there’s continual discussion on whether and how to engage in online options like blogs, podcasts and social networking.

In response to the explosion of online influencer tracker services – there are over 100 nowadays, and counting – Nick Hayes and I wrote a paper* on how we think they are misleading marketers. The paper led to an invitation to post on the IIAR blog, to hopefully spark some discussion – thanks for the invite, Ludovic.

This first post focuses on whether influence as a concept has changed with the use of online channels. The second will look at how influence can be measured using online metrics. And the third will discuss the implications of online channels for AR and Influencer Relations professionals.

There’s an important context to any debate on influence, online or otherwise. It is that ecosystems of influencers are highly fragmented these days. Most decision makers are influenced by the traditional journalists and analysts, but also by consultants, academics, regulators, financiers, sourcing advisors, procurement professionals and other specialists, as well as peer end users.

Much of the influence exerted by this group has been enabled, in large part, by online channels. This has been an ongoing process for a decade. The web and search engines make it easier for anyone to reach the market, and easier for buyers to find what they’re looking for. Blogs and podcasts increase the reach of anyone inclined to use them. Social media is just the next step in this evolution – there’s no social media revolution going on.

But social media has provided a new channel for those people with the potential to influence, making communication between those people frictionless.  To reach a group of like-minded adopters of a technology you used to have to organise a meeting in a mutually inconvenient location. Nowadays, you organise an unconference or participate in an online forum. It used to take months to organise an event, now it can take hours.

But has the nature of influence changed? Are decision makers influenced in different ways through online channels? You’d think so, given the hype, but as Nate Elliott at Forrester observed, “the huge majority of users influence each other face to face rather than through social online channels.”

It makes sense to understand the attributes of influence – the ability to discuss and persuade, knowledge and experience, willingness to express an opinion, the authority and gravitas with which to communicate that opinion, the opportunity to convey that opinion to the right audience at the right time. And so on.

Some of these attributes are facilitated by online channels, for sure. Others are removed from online impact completely. There’s no doubt that some of the smaller analyst firms, for example, are benefitting from their online presence, in terms of reaching their potential audience through blogging and other social media technologies. But these channels are not creating expertise or authority – simply the means to communicate them.

Can social media create a new kind of influence, by collative the collective wisdom of a connected crowd? After all, there is safety in numbers in doing what the crowd does. We used to have a version of that in the IT industry – no-one ever got fired for buying IBM. Imagine the power of that kind of statement, communicated instantly over the blogosphere. Or would it be immediately challenged and rejected by real users’ experience?

So, are analysts influencing via online channels? How is influence really conveyed by analysts to decision makers? Has it moved mainly to online or is it still by telephone enquiries and face-to-face advice?

*Free registration required, or email me at duncan.brown(at)influencer50.com. Barbara French also contributed to the paper.

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