Why AR Matters – Analysts can get your company on short lists that you were excluded from

icon-dollar-euro.jpgMost analyst relations (AR) professionals are in an environment where they have to continually justify the relevance of the industry analysts and AR. One of the best arguments for justifying the investment in AR is the impact analysts have on the company’s sales opportunities. Usually the easiest to find examples are negative, such as when an analyst’s commentary has caused a vendor to be removed or excluded from a short list, because a sales rep will be howling in anger. However, with some investigation AR can turn up positive impacts of the analysts, e.g., when an analyst has been your advocate by getting your company onto a short list.

In Reality Check: Sales reps matter more than product on the Software Insider blog, former Forrester analyst and current VP of Research at SSPA John Ragsdale illustrates how an analyst with a simple question can help a vendor get placement on a vendor short list. 

“…Over the last year I have become increasingly aware of something and wanted to share it with a larger audience. When I have conversations with companies about a pending software purchase (usually CRM or eService), they tell me the core business problems they are trying to solve, then give me the list of vendors they are considering. And almost every time, I hear a little jingle from Sesame Street in my head:

     “One of these things is not like the other
     One of these things just doesn’t belong
     Can you guess which thing is not like the other
     By the time I finish this song?

“Why? Because the obvious vendor(s) who are specialists in their problem are not on the list, and they are selecting from a group of vendors who all do something else. So I ask, “Um, why isn’t Vendor X on the list?” And here is the universal reply. ‘Oh, we started with them, but […]

When talking about partners, avoid the dreaded “shaking hands” clipart

Two of the hoariest clichés used in PowerPoint presentations for analyst briefings are a slide full of partner logos or using clipart showing shaking hands as a sign of partnership.

The partner slide is an important component of many presentations made to IT industry analysts. Unfortunately, too many vendors use these clichés and miss the opportunity to communicate real information that supports key messages.

A better way to design the partner slide is to use text names instead of logos and organize the name listings in a way that adds information (see the second figure). The organization of the names should support the key strategic messages of the current briefing. A key message-centric slide is much richer than a logo-centric slide and more partners can be listed. In addition, by organizing […]

Word cloud generator by Wordle

From the website: “Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text.” And a cool toy it is.

Obviously, SageCircle really, really focuses on AR and the analysts (click on the graphic to the right to enlarge).

However, Wordle is not just a toy, but potentially a useful tool for analyst relations professions with analysts that blog. Now you can in a minute with only a simple cut-and-paste of a URL get a feel for the most frequent – and by extension, most important – words in an analyst’s blog. For example, the word cloud to the left is for  […]

Best practices for partner collaboration on AR

This best practice comes from guest contributor Gerry Van Zandt (Twitter handle), AR manager with HP Services.

Joint product, service, or customer announcements with partners are a common part of the marketing repertoire for large and small companies in the technology world. But far too often these “announcements” consist of two names or logos at the top of a press release, with only modest coordination between the PR teams of the two companies (mainly securing approvals and edits to press release text) and then shot-gunning the news release out on the newswires.

As always, AR teams should assess the potential benefits of joint announcements and engage in the process early to help shape content and key messages. To maximize effectiveness of important joint announcements, AR also should coordinate closely with AR counterparts (or resources handling AR) at partner companies and jointly plan an analyst engagement strategy and timeline, executed by both companies. By doing this, analysts get informed about the upcoming news in advance, and learn its context and significance to both companies. This also gives them the knowledge to accurately comment if called by a reporter as a third-party story source.

When engaging with AR counterparts at partner firms, AR should:

  • Identify appropriate AR and marketing resources early at the partner firm. When AR is called into a project, they should as early as possible inquire with […]

Microsoft job opening – Director, Corporate Analyst Relations

Location: Redmond, WA

Apply online at Monster.com

The successful candidate will be responsible for defining and managing the successful delivery of key company-wide initiatives. Responsibilities will include:

  • Driving AR strategy for key corporate initiatives(s)
  • Maximizing Microsoft’s leverage of […]

How to use analyst market share numbers after Gartner makes a “huge mistake” with server market share numbers

photo-rob-enderle.jpgRarely do analysts call out another firm on perceived failures in research, but Rob Enderle does just that in Liars, Damn Liars and Statistics: Gartner Goofs on Server Numbers. Money quote:

“…However, the accuracy of these numbers even inside corporations (given how deals are accounted for) would suggest that getting within 5 percent of actual sales would be very difficult, let alone having a high level of confidence that under 1 percent actually signified real market leadership. …”

Rob then goes into an interesting discussion of the shortcomings of market share numbers and the methodologies used to create them. The article is well worth reading. It would be interesting – fun even – if more analysts engaged each other in the marketplace of ideas rather than having a monologue with clients.

SageCircle has long said that market share numbers from the market research analysts can provide interesting insights into the direction a market is going. However, relying on the numbers alone without […]

Thinking about Gartner’s Hype Cycle

As AR professionals focus (obsess) on the Gartner Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave as primary targets for influencing, an important signature research deliverable is often overlooked – Gartner’s Hype Cycle (click graphic to see a larger version). This point is driven home by the fact that is takes a fair amount of work to find a vendor reprint of any Hype Cycle, whereas you can easily find MQ and Wave reprints starting on the first Google search results page. This vendor attitude is unfortunate because Gartner says that the Hype Cycle is the most read/download type of research, even more than the Magic Quadrant. However, because the Hype Cycle does not directly compare products and rarely even mentions vendors in passing, it is easy for vendors not to give Hype Cycles a high priority.

The Hype Cycle might take on additional visibility in October 2008 if Gartner and the Harvard Business School Press (HBSP) promote the new book, Mastering the Hype Cycle: How to Choose the Right Innovation at the Right Time by Jackie Fenn and Mark Raskino, as effectively as […]