Over the last 12 years, my colleagues and I have run dozens of webinars and telephone conferences to address the most frequently asked questions of analyst relations managers. This week I’ve been running the numbers, looking to see which topics got the most attention. Several of these topics were used more for than one event and, indeed, looking back even to 2003 I can see that some of the topics are timeless. Five thoughts come to mind. Continue Reading →
Last year, as part of the 2014 IIAR Analyst of The Year Survey, we invited analyst relations professionals to rate their favourite industry analyst individuals and the firms they worked for. More than 60 individual organisations responded to our survey. We were interested to see if we could do further analysis on the data that was collected.
When we set out to do the IIAR Analyst of the Year (with Helen Chantry), we always had envisioned doing a Magic Quadrant of analyst firms. This year the survey provided us with further information which we have been able to breakdown and analyse to provide a more detailed understanding of how analyst relations professionals perceive the relevance, impact and reachability of industry analyst firms. We are not claiming that this is an exhaustive study. Rather it simply opens a new (slightly cheeky – hence the notion of “Tragic Quadrant”) window onto the analyst landscape, where we attempt to rank industry analyst firms by impact, relevance and ease to do business with. Continue Reading →
Last week, the second German IIAR Stammtisch gathered AR professionals and analysts for a private dining event in central Munich, this led into an interesting and enjoyable discussion about AR measurement. The overarching question was how to best communicate internally the value analysts can bring to the business, and the value of well managed communications between vendors and analysts.
“Why should I speak to this analyst” is a question AR pros are often confronted with. The pressure on AR pros has risen during the past years in terms of showing the return of investments gained through analyst relations and showing the value analysts can bring. In recent years expectations have both grown and changed. Analysts are well aware of the new challenges, and eager to learn how to address.
In past years reports, whitepapers and analyst advice were naturally part of the relationship, today budgets are tighter in many companies, and investments in analyst insights have shrunk. Or teams became smaller, and bandwidth more limited to support research projects. Even more important becomes the task to explain to the internal stakeholders the treasures analysts can open up for them, and the value they can bring to the business.
AR professionals can face very different challenges. For example, an AR manager working for a new company in a niche market and a strong growth rate may face different challenges to an AR manager working for a large and established player in a saturated market. At the IIAR Stammtisch we exchanged about the specific pain points each of these AR managers might experience and the differing ways forward.
AR professionals and analysts have a common interest – proof the value of their work. Whilst we can’t do without AR measurement this has to be a value discussion rather than a simply a counting exercise, like counting the number of reports, the number of tweets, of interactions and so forth. AR pros and analysts need to join forces and seek ways to provide value to both sides and proof of the value delivered. The German Stammtisch, as part of the IIAR, will explore quantitative value measurement of Company+AR+Analyst interactions for a future IIAR Best Practice Paper.
Look out for more updates on this topic. We welcome your thoughts and experiences, leave a comment below – how do you show value delivered ?
Author – Yvonne Kaupp, IIAR Board Member and Lead for the IIAR German Chapter
The IIAR is delighted to announce the winners of the 2014
IIAR Analyst Firm of the Year
AND THE WINNERS ARE… Continue Reading →
What – IIAR Discussion Group – Negotiating your Contract with Gartner
When – Thursday the 22nd January 2015 @ 4pm GMT, 5pm CET, 12 Noon – New York
Where – IIAR Webinar
Who: Discussion initiated and will be chaired by Aniruddho Mukherjee (Head of AR and Branding Manager, Europe for HCL Technologies)
Register Here – To attend please REGISTER <<HERE>>, now
What – IIAR Discussion Group – Negotiating your Analyst Firm Contract (aka – Negotiating with Gartner)
When – Friday the 31st October 2014 @ 4pm GMT, 5pm CET, 12 Noon – New York
Where – IIAR Webinar
Register Here – To attend please REGISTER <<HERE>>, now
In a mammoth three hour meeting (we didn’t lock the doors, people just didn’t want to leave) those attending last night’s IIAR meeting in London enjoyed an informative interview Marianne Kolding of IDC by Simon ‘Jeremy’ Levin of The Skills Connection.
In his quiet, persistent manner, Simon coaxed Marianne into explaining how IDC works with CIOs and what research it’s now producing for the IT buyer.
And it turns out that there’s quite a lot. Marianne talked through the reach and exposure IDC has with end-users. She also explained several newer services that the company is launching directly to target the CIO and in-house IT decision makers.
It was a spirited, entertaining and insightful conversation. Led by our three panellists – Bill Reed, AGT; Dom Pannell, Unisys; and our own Yash Khanna, TCS – the audience weren’t shy about sharing their views on what they heard as well as their experiences.
We should provide wine and beer more often.
For IIAR members who couldn’t be there in-person, you can listen to recordings of both sessions in Huddle. For non-IIAR members, you can have access if you join up but otherwise you’ve missed out on two great conversations.
Our next meeting is at Christmas on the 9th December, in central London. We’ve got a great party planned, which Dell is kindly sponsoring. You should really come along for at least one drink.
When talking to IT vendors eager to grow their business I usually come across a number of common challenges they face. One of the biggest issues which lies outside the companies (as opposed to e. g. finance requirements to fund the growth or adding enough skilled people to their workforce) is that once they are moving out of their comfort zone they are facing prospects that are much more skeptical than those in their home markets.
It seems to be a common pattern that vendors manage to grow to a certain size (depending on the size of their home market this is often somewhere between five and twenty million dollars) and then start thinking about ways to expand further. This often is when they are confronted with the ‘real outside world’ for the first time. Before this they managed to successfully leverage their network, or simply were the vendor with an office location closest to where the customer was. This kind of home advantage usually works up to a certain point. You might be able to successfully sell to new clients based on recommendations from your network to 2nd degree connections but that’s about where it stops. When you are dealing with prospects who have never heard of you and who don’t have any other obvious connection path (be it geographically or personal) to your company the selling gets much tougher. Obviously the first thing any vendor will do is to bring his USPs to the attention of the potential buyer. But be honest: How many competitors are out there who are making similar claims in regards to their or their solution’s capabilities? At this stage it doesn’t matter if their (or your) claims are true because at this stage the only thing that matters is the question of who is going to get the chance to proof their claims either by further demonstrations, POCs, trials or ideally by closing the deal.
A similar challenge vendors are facing is connected to the deal size. A lot of customers are willing to ‘risk’ a limited amount of money on a new vendor or a solution that is new to the market. With increasing deal size this inclination to take some risk quickly declines which is why smaller or new vendors often fail to win the larger deals in the market. This is also true in regards to the ‘business criticality’ of a solution. Buying something that is a nice to have from a new vendor is much easier than buying a solution that is business critical or security relevant from an unproven source.
Credibility wins business.
With markets where there are typically multiple vendors offering multiple solutions for a problem the buyer needs to significantly narrow down the field of potential suppliers. So being on the short list for further evaluation must be the primary goal in the early stage of the sales process. This is where the topic of credibility comes into play. When competing in their home markets a vendor is virtually guaranteed to get a place on the short list. Once competing outside: Not so much. Credibility means that a potential customer has enough trust in the claims you make about your company and your solution to give you the chance to prove yourself. Having credible sales people goes a long way towards that goal but obviously they are very hard to find. In addition some customers will never accept anything coming directly from a vendor at face value. Also references help to generate trust, even though the effectiveness of a reference quickly declines when they are not meeting the criteria a specific customer is looking for. This can include the requirement for a reference from the same country, the same vertical or of similar size – or ideally all of this at the same time. And of course if you were not lucky enough to acquire the right mix of reference customers in your home market this only brings you back to the initial problem of getting new customers in the first place. So the question remains how to best handle the credibility issue.
Influencers create credibility
This is where influencer relations has its place in the marketing mix. People like journalist and industry analysts make their living from evaluating technologies, vendors and solutions. Industry analysts in particular are heavily involved in advising technology buyers in regards to their vendor selection and short list creation. With industry analyst groups such as Gartner, Forrester, IDC and Ovum influencing between 40% and 60% of commercial technology sales their market reach is much bigger than anything a midsize vendor can hope to achieve on its own. This means that being mentioned by analysts – either in written research or in 1:1 inquiries – will open up indirect access to many potential customers. Coverage in official research publications is the most powerful tool for your sales people and your marketing materials to demonstrate that your technology, company, products and service offerings and methods are highly recognized and credible.
Analysts are writing about your market, whether you like it or not. Being pro-active in reaching out to analysts gives you the strategic advantage of being able to influence their research by providing them with the insight they need, when they need it. Analyst Relations is not a billion dollar club. It is critical that analysts are well informed of your company strategy, products, and services. This needs to be an ongoing process to maintain a top-of-mind status, especially for a vendor that aims for higher name recognition and company growth. Early engagement with analysts is a great way to get analyst buy-in and top-of-mind presence to increase credibility and in turn to secure your place on the short list and to boost sales.
This Guest Posting was first published on Influencer Relations and Marketing.
Do you have a challenger mentality, stellar communication skills, and a knack for uncovering compelling story angles? WWLP marketing is looking for a highly skilled AR/PR Manager to change perceptions of Microsoft licensing worldwide. We need someone who can build strong relationships with the most influential media & analyst groups; someone to drive thought leadership around innovative and simplified licensing; someone to craft and successfully land a new narrative through analysts, press and social media.
Date: September 11th, 2014
Time: 4pm BST, 5pm CET, 11am EST, 8am PST
Location: IIAR Webinar – Register here
AR Pros and the Industry Analysts work on the basis of undocumented principles – principles that sometimes get broken or abused and then what do you do? This webinar will look at the types of analysts AR Pros come across on a daily basis and how to engage with them. Questions such as whether there is a secret recipe on how to build trust? – When should you be transparent? – Should analysts be afforded preferential treatment? – And does NDA really mean, NDA? – will be addressed along with many other frustrations we all face in the world of AR. Oh yes, there is also a section on ‘Divas’! Continue Reading →