What are the pluses and minuses of former analysts taking on vendor AR roles? [Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpgComment/Question: Re: your point below about jobs for senior analysts, here’s an idea for a blog entry – the pluses and minuses of former analysts taking on vendor analyst relations roles. That ought to stimulate some discussion on the comments section.

Rob Curran, wicked smart AR professional at Waggener Edstrom, sent along that comment after this week’s newsletter where we wrote in light of the recent spate of layoffs at analyst firms: 

Do you know of a job appropriate for a senior analyst? – Now is the time to grab talent. The job could be at a firm you know is hiring or maybe your company has a position open in product management, strategy or market research. If so, notify the analysts you know that are “in transit” between positions. Not just former Forrester analysts, but the others as well.”

It looked like Rob noticed we did not include analyst relations (AR) as a possible job for former analysts. Hopefully that was a simple oversight on my part (this is Carter, a former Gartner analyst, writing) and not a Freudian slip. Obviously there can be real value to having a former analyst in the AR role. On the other hand, I have seen some former analysts really botch the job of AR.

This is a topic that really does […]

AR & Recession: Top Five Tips for Communicating AR’s Value

Analyst Relations PlanningAt all times, but especially during a recession, analyst relations (AR) programs need to effectively communicate to executive sponsors and other internal stakeholders the business value delivered by AR. Unfortunately, too many AR teams are so focused on interacting with the analysts that they do not do a good job telling their stories to their colleagues and the people that hold the purse strings. This can be a fatal mistake as AR is competing for resources – executive bandwidth for briefings, budget and headcount.   Not communicating about business value means being at a disadvantage during budget discussions. 

While there are many aspects to an edu-marketing (educating colleagues using marketing techniques) campaign, here are our Top Five Tips for effectively communicating AR’s business value:

(5) Develop a compelling “elevator pitch” for analyst relations

(4) Gather examples of analyst impact on actual and recent sales deals

(3) Constantly communicate, monitor, and adapt AR’s message

(2) Focus on the business impact of analyst relations

And the #1 tip for communicating AR’s value is… […]

AR & recession – Reconsidering analyst contract priorities

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgControlling spending is a high priority for most vendors during a recession. For analyst relations (AR) teams this mandate causes angst because it means cutting spending with analyst firms, usually a big part of AR’s budget. Discussing this issue has become an increasingly common inquiry for SageCircle strategists as clients work through budget cutting scenarios. 

One of the main sources of anxiety is the perception that analysts will start bad mouthing the vendor to prospects, making negative comments in the press, and cutting off AR’s ability to brief the analysts. This is usually an overblown concern as reputable firms will not damage their standing with vendors – a significant source of information and market insights – over short term contract spending changes. Analysts at the largest firms often do not know the size of a vendor’s contract with the firm and will not notice if the vendor cuts the contract by some percentage.

Unfortunately, there will be individuals who do resort to threats and making overtly negative comments about vendors in the press as pressure tactics to get contracts. Typically these individuals are […]

AR & recession – it’s about refocusing priorities and activities

Analyst Relations PlanningRecessions typically change technology and telecommunications vendors’ priorities and activities. One of the most common changes is to cut back on marketing, especially brand building and other “fluffy” activities, to reduce expenses. At the same time, there is more emphasis on selling, especially for those vendors that sell direct to large enterprises. Another change is to focus on core markets and reduce effort in secondary markets. There are several dangers for analyst relations (AR) programs in economic downturns: 

  1. AR is associated with “fluffy” marketing and subject to headcount and budget cuts
  2. AR is not closely associated with driving revenues
  3. AR’s priorities become out-of-sync with new corporate or business unit priorities
  4. AR is executing its original plan (or typical activities if there was no plan)
  5. AR is reporting metrics that do not seem relevant to executives

If AR is to avoid been the target of budget and headcount cuts is it critical to ensure that it is aligned with corporate priorities and demonstrating positive economic contributions. While this seems obvious, too many AR programs are so caught up in reactive mode or simply doing normal day-to-day tasks that they don’t see the danger forming. As a consequence, these programs have a greater likelihood of getting cut than those AR managers and teams that proactively or preemptively move to change their focus.

When AR programs are considering what has to change during a recession they should remember to work and spend differently. Only doing one is not […]

Transitioning to leading-edge AR: It’s in the plan

Analyst Relations PlanningWe have always received requests from directors of top analyst relations (AR) programs to define “World-Class AR.” These directors want to take their programs to the next level and they want to know the elements that characterize strategic AR. They also know that they require a plan for getting there. SageCircle has defined elements of this plan in its research on “The AR Effectiveness Matrix: Stages of AR Maturity, with the “Leading Edge” (Stage 3) representing world class AR. 

However, to provide a comprehensive response to these requests, we developed a 50-page report that is now a core component of the Online SageContentTM Library. In the process, we learned that 1) no one had developed a comprehensive vision yet and, if developed, a 2) comprehensive vision would have to be flexible enough to adapt to AR directors’ specific business needs. SageCircle built in this flexibility by focusing on how AR programs deliver business value to their companies (see Keys for World Class AR box).

pop-out-keys-for-world-class-ar

While the report provides a comprehensive overview of the components that make-up ‘Leading Edge’ AR programs, it leaves open the question: “How do we get there from here? This process is not simple (a “leap over tall buildings in a single bound” project). Rather, achieving ‘Leading Edge’ status requires […]

Essential qualities of AR objectives: alignment and measurability

Analyst Relations PlanningSageCircle stresses the need for good strategic planning.  Creating the right objectives is perhaps the most significant aspect to advancing the AR program within your company.  AR objectives must exhibit two qualities: 

  • Direct alignment with overall company goals
  • Measurability

When establishing goals and objectives for the AR program, top-performing teams first focus on determining whether a candidate objective directly aligns with a corporate initiative. For example, many AR programs initially suggest a goal similar to, “Get our executives more involved with the analysts.”  But this goal has no explicit business value.  Why does the program want to increase the visibility of the executives?  In most cases when you review this objective the discussion leads to the understanding that analysts find meetings with executives more memorable and valuable, and messages from executives are considered more reliable.  Having executives meet with the analysts increases the company’s top-of-mind with the analysts, which is one factor that affects analyst recommendations.  The AR goal becomes, “Establish top-of-mind with key analysts covering the xyz market to promote inclusion on short lists”.  Executive meetings are recognized as one tactic for achieving this goal.

The second hurdle for program objectives is measurability. To assess this criterion, effective AR teams attempt to define […]

Defining “AR Strategic and Tactical Plan”

Bottom Line:  AR organizations need to plan their programs and resources to achieve most effectively their AR goals. An AR Strategic and Tactical plan should be a detailed roadmap that aligns programs and activities with corporate and business unit objectives, AR goals and the strategic initiative of driving sales. 

AR Strategic and Tactical Plan:

n:  A scheme or method developed to ensure that the AR team is systematically delivering business value to the company for the time period specified. The AR plan requires both a near-term tactical focus as well as a long-term strategic vision. The AR Strategic and Tactical Plan is a document that begins with a statement of AR goals and then provides comprehensive detail for executing AR activities such that all AR resources and […]