AR programs should put their contact info on the company website

A recent survey of vendor websites indicates that while PR and IR contacts are clearly listed often AR teams do not post their contact information.  When questioned some AR teams have indicated that they know their tier one analysts and do not want to be contacted directly by other analysts.

The analyst landscape is constantly changing.  We suggest that every AR team follow the PR leads and post relevant contact information on their public websites for a variety of reasons:

  • Your tier one list should be dynamic, and there could be analysts worthy of being included […]

Budget cutting part two — Alternate solutions for analyst contracts

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgLast week (see Budgeting cutting can help AR focus and innovate) we suggested that potential budget cuts may have the effect of causing AR teams to prioritize and innovate in their programs and might not always be as negative as when first viewed.  Another way to deal with the possible cuts in funding that follow any economic slowing is to look to alternative solutions.  These techniques obviously take precious time and effort that AR teams also don’t have, but may be reasonable choices when money is not available.

Analyst seat holder contracts

Review each analyst contract for usage and determine business group seat holders who need to be eliminated.  Then contact the high value and high usage seat holders to see if the business group can pick up some or all of the cost.  Be prepared to justify the cost as the business group […]

Can the IT industry analysts be objective?

question-mark-graphic.jpgI recently saw this question on Twitter. It was from an AR practitioner, but it also applies to research consumers as well. Several studies* of IT manager clients surfaced that “objectivity” or some variation is an important consideration for buying analyst services. But is this a reasonable expectation for the research consumers? The answer is a qualified “yes” and there are ways for analyst clients to ensure that objectivity is as high as possible.While it is our opinion that analysts do not pull their punches because vendors are clients (see Analyst integrity issues – the urban legend that won’t die), that does not mean that analysts are 100% objective all the time. Every person has life experiences that will permanently or temporarily make them a little less objective.  AR teams may have their doubts about some analysts […]

Why do analyst consulting days? [AR Practitioner Question]

question-mark-graphic.jpg As was briefly mentioned in Strengths and weaknesses of analyst research delivery types, analyst consulting days (aka SAS or strategic advisory service in Gartnerese) have a high risk/reward profile for vendor analyst relations (AR) teams. After that post, we received a question from an AR practitioner asking why AR would want to spend the money on an analyst consulting day.

It is important to remember that building strong analyst relationships requires a mix of interaction types.  You cannot achieve your objectives using only briefings and inquiry. Consulting days can have significant benefits when done correctly.  Because there are different reasons for purchasing analyst consulting days from the firms, vendors need to clarify the goals they want to pursue through buying consulting days. The shotgun approach of “we’ll just throw some more money at them by buying consulting time” rarely succeeds in genuinely increasing an analyst’s positive perception of a vendor.

The various reasons why vendors choose to do consulting days vary in real value:

  • To build stronger relationships with key analysts
          – Rating: high value
  • To do a Deep Dive-style uninterrupted briefing
          – Rating: none to high value
  • To have a high profile marketing event speaker
          – Rating: […]

Blogs as part of the AR tool box — Is there a chicken-or-egg issue?

icon-social-media-blue.jpgWhile blogs have been around for a number of years, they are seldom used by communications and IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams*. I have found only Adobe, Cisco, HP, IBM** and Sun. This is too bad because blogs can be a valuable tool for communicating certain types of information in a less formal manner.

Now it is important to realize that a blog is not the end all and be all of analyst interactions. For one thing, blogs are usually not password protected, so nothing remotely confidential can be the topic of a blog entry.

There are a number of reasons why AR has avoided blogs:

  1. The AR team cannot get permission to launch a blog because their company has not developed a blogging strategy and policy yet
  2. AR is simply overworked and cannot add another task
  3. AR perceives that it does not has the right skills to create blog content
  4. AR believes there is no demand for a blog because the analysts are not asking for one
  5. AR thinks there are not enough interesting topics for them to consistently blog

Items #1 and #2 are show stoppers. Items #3 and #4 are what I call chicken-and-egg issues. For instance, […]

Should startups use PR agencies to do AR? [Startup Saturday]

rocket-for-startups.jpgThis is a post that will no doubt irritate my PR friends, but the answer to the question about whether startups should use PR agencies for AR is “only for the boring stuff.” By boring, I mean interaction logistics and basic information dissemination. However, when it comes to building the relationship and developing credibility with the IT analysts, then the startup’s smartest people need to roll up their sleeves and own these aspects.

If you look at what the analysts […]

Budget cutting can help AR focus and innovate

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgIt is a fact of life that because of the reports of economic slowing, marketing departments at communications and IT vendors are considering budget cuts. Because most analyst relations teams report to marketing, there will be trickle down cuts hitting AR as well. Unfortunately, most AR functions are already short of staff and funding resources so the natural reaction is to perceive that budget cuts are only bad. However, if AR managers use the budget cutting as an opportunity to rethink how they do business the cutting exercise can have at least some positive outcomes.

Any business function can accumulate outdated expenses, activities and techniques like barnacles on a ship. An example can be always buying 20 advisory seats during the annual analyst services contract renewal even though only 14 are really being actively used. Another example is spending too much money on analyst events by selecting fancy destination hotels when analysts would prefer a more convenient and often cheaper location. Yet another example is buying expo floor booth space at firm conferences because “everybody knows” that they are great sources of leads when no investigation of lead generation effectiveness has been done for years, if ever.

Besides eliminating unnecessary spending, a budget cutting exercise can also surface innovative approaches to accomplish tasks that actually might be more effective done in some other way. An example here is substituting “Deep Dives” for the annual […]

Strengths and weaknesses of analyst research delivery types

icon-phone-headset.jpgThe communications and IT analyst industry has four basic ways (i.e., written, inquiries, speeches and consulting days) that analysts deliver research and recommendations to their clients. Not all firms use every method listed below and with social media there are new methods being developed that will someday be widely available (e.g., think about a virtual world inquiry where the client’s and analyst’s avatars meet and use a whiteboard).

There is no single method that is perfect for every client and every situation. It is important that the research consumer consider each method and pick the right one for their specific situation

Written Research

  • Strength: Available on-line, convenient, most research papers are designed to be quick reads
  • Weakness: Represents less than 10% of what the analyst knows, publishing agenda is not always systematically […]