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.
Tag Archives | AR Best practices
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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?
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. Continue Reading →
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.
Carol Rozwell from Gartner (blog, @CRozwell, bio) kindly allowed us to reproduce here her post on Vendors: suggestions to maximize briefing value. It neatly complement her peer Linda Rowan from IDC’s Briefing tips and best practices.
Last week, I was treated to a number of interesting vendor briefings, the most engaging of which was conducted in Second Life. But despite having the opportunity to view some innovative product offerings, I also had to contend with some frustrating vendor practices. In the spirit of helping vendors maximize the short time they have for a briefing with an analyst, I offer my list of five worst practices I wish vendors would curtail:
Continue Reading →
Analyst relations professionals are dealing with more types of analysts and analyst-like influencers every day. How do you know who’s important among these new faces? Some insights from a pharma influencer relations study can give you fresh perspectives on identifying, differentiating and prioritizing your AR targets.
This post is reprinted from my personal blog Sway, where I discuss analyst relations and broad-based influencer relations. You may know me best as founder and managing editor of Tekrati, Inc.
Solid research is the only way to cut through the chatter about identifying and prioritizing influencers for word-of-mouth marketing and other forms of influencer marketing. Mike Gotta (Burton Group / Gartner ) yesterday pointed out a just such a study, from the pharma industry. I like this study because it focuses on finding the hidden opinion leaders who drive the first wave of word-of-mouth product referrals.
The study identifies two distinct types of opinion leaders among the target physicians:
- those who are trusted and respected by peers (called sociometric leaders)
- those physicians who think of themselves as well connected and influential (called self-reported opinion leaders)
The opinion leaders identified by their peers are not the traditional targets pursued by marketers. If anything, they contradict current marketing wisdom about influencers and influentials. They are not overtly well connected, outgoing or high profile in terms of being published or public speakers.
Three nuggets to think about:
The study finds little overlap between the two types of influencers. Physicians fell into one group or the other.
The under-the-radar opinion leaders are quicker to use new product and more likely to influencer others to try it. This finding is based on matching network data with perscription records.
The under-the-radar sociometric opinion leaders are more interested in what their peers are doing, and are more open to word-of-mouth or social influence, than the self-reported opinion leaders.
Both types of opinion leaders play important roles in robust influencer marketing programs. One group is not better than the other; they’re just different kinds of people. The best course of action is to identify and address both types of opinion leaders. That means doing more research and more segmentation.
Hat tip: Mike Gotta
Study: Opinion Leadership and Social Contagion in New Product Diffusion – by Raghuram Iyengar, Christophe Van den Bulte, and Thomas Valente, 2008
Summary of Study: Knowledge@Wharton
Our next monthly discussion group teleconference is next Wednesday, January 20th, on the topic of AR measurement and evaluation.
The call will be lead by Ellie Warner, who recently authored a Best Practice white paper on this topic for the IIAR.
IIAR members who would like to join the call, please contact Hannah Kirkman for dial in details.
Yesterday the IIAR had a great turn-out for its teleconference on best practice analyst relations at the Mobile World Congress this February in Barcelona.
The discussion was exceptional and the featured panelists included:
• AMDOCS, Brian McManus
• CCS Insight, Ben Wood
• Ericsson, Peter Olofsson
• Vodafone, Janine Aitken-Young.
Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:
• Every analyst attending gets hundreds of requests for meet ups. Resources don’t exist for every analyst to meet with every vendor
• MWC is for analyst meetings not analyst briefings. Pre-brief analysts about news and then arrange 15 minute catch up meetings at the MWC
• Logistics are extremely challenging at the MWC. Pre-planning and spokesperson preparation is essential; allow time in between meetings
• Check the time you are allowed into the conference before scheduling breakfast meetings
• Use multiple ways to evaluate AR success at the event
• Be ready to fact check as analysts are writing blogs and reports on tight deadlines
• Don’t plan meet ups with analysts at social events and don’t plan on analysts attending social events unless there’s a big ‘hook’
• 80% of what’s discussed with an analyst at the MWC is forgotten
All in all a very useful discussion and thanks again to the panelists for their participation.