How To Deal With Analysts: #1 The Pre-Briefing

A common scenario is that a technology company is launching a new product and it decides to hold a series of press and analyst briefings. So which analysts should it talk to?

Robin Bloor

Preface: In 2009 we cited this article as one of the most useful articles by analysts with tips on Analyst Relations. Over the decade since then, the article’s fallen offline. In 2020, when we started the research for our book, we asked the author’s permission to cite it. To help readers see the analyst’s comments in context, we reprint it below. ” Robin Bloor is now a technology evangelist at Permission.io.”

This series of postings aims to provide advice to technology vendors on how to become more effective in their relationships with analysts. This one is about pre-briefings. We can begin by asking:

Do you know the analysts?

A common scenario is that a technology company is launching a new product and it decides to hold a series of press and analyst briefings. So which analysts should it talk to?

Why am I asking this?

Because it is advisable to pre-brief one analyst before you talk to any others or any journalists. You may believe that you’ve got the marketing and technology message right, but if you haven’t you’ll probably be given a bad time by the analysts and also by the press (many of whom talk to analysts). You need to test your marketing message and for that reason you need a “friendly analyst” to help.

If you are a large company (IBM, HP, etc.), you know this and you’ll have paid an analyst or two to do some message testing before you face the music and dance. But if you’re small you will not have the money. So you need a friendly analyst who understands your technology area.

Why would a “friendly analyst” help you for nothing?

Actually they wont. They will expect that if they give you some free consultancy, you will realize you owe them and hire them at a later date to do: white paper work, surveys, presentations, webinars, podcast, direct consultancy et al. There’s no free lunch here, it’s an informal trade. You’re selling to them and they’re selling to you, but no money changes hands.

Some analyst companies (or individuals) will never help unless they see the dollars first, but some will. You would be ill advised to try to just exploit an analyst who is helpful. Analysts talk to each other and are powerful influencers, both for and against. They have long memories too.

So, if you have a limited budget, it makes sense to cultivate a long term relationship with one or two analysts for that reason.

How Do You Conduct The Pre-Briefing?

The pre-briefing is a rehearsal. On the one hand you “follow the script” and on the other you interact with the analyst taking note of whatever he or she says. You may even want to record the briefing. I’ll discuss vendor presentations in another posting, but there are some obvious things you want the analyst to verify:

  1. Did the technology message make sense and was it easily understood?
  2. Did the business benefits explanation make sense?
  3. Does it need a demo?
  4. Was there anything goofy about the presentation?

My advice is to have a check-list and use it.

What Happens If You Do Not Do a Pre-Briefing?

Your team may be so good that it usually gets it right. However, the penalty for getting it wrong is high. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. With a product launch you are in first impression territory. Some vendors presentations get savaged. I’ve savaged one or two myself. If an analyst thinks you’re wasting his/her time, they will be annoyed and you will have wasted your own time too. Also your message will have been completely lost.

Note: This posting is one in a series of postings that deals with the topic of dealing with analysts. 

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