ARcade » Analyst Relations Weblog maintained by Hill+Knowlton Strategies\' global Analyst Relations team. Wed, 30 Nov 2011 02:40:13 +0000 en hourly 1 The voice of reason: getting the analyst perspective on product and strategy messaging Wed, 30 Nov 2011 02:40:13 +0000 nadiahabibcoelho There are probably many marketing and communications professionals out there who at some point may have slapped their foreheads over lackluster responses to their company’s product or strategy roll-outs. Thoughts such as “Why didn’t it work? “, “We did everything by the book and yet there are still people complaining that they don’t get what we do” might have crossed their minds.

A key component of a product and strategy roll-outs involves message testing and market research with customers, partners and the media including engaging with internal stakeholders every step of the way. Yet despite these efforts there can be instances where the final message doesn’t resonate with target audiences by the time it goes to launch. Has this happened to you?

There might be several reasons why the messaging could have been off target but Hill & Knowlton has identified the top five as:

1. You didn’t care
2. You didn’t understand
3. You didn’t believe
4. You didn’t know how to apply it to the real world
5. It sounded like something a competitor was already saying

By involving some of the crucial stakeholders I highlighted above, there is one category that we have often found missing from the messaging testing mix – analysts. Which brings me to ask, how many of you thought about talking to a trusted analyst during the message testing process?

The analyst perspective during the messaging process can be vital in getting competitive intelligence. An analyst inquiry provides insights into not only what your competitors are saying or doing (which isn’t under NDA of course!) but the market’s reaction to a particular product at a particular time.

Analyst discussions at the planning stage of the messaging process means you get an advance preview of the business and economic trends that can impact the time you go to market. Most importantly it can also aid you in how you should structure your messaging and review who else is saying what you are planning on saying.

As many of you start planning and discussing strategy roll-outs for new products or messaging, I would recommend giving some thought to how you can involve your analyst teams and contacts in the process. Getting analysts to give you their perspective during this process is where you will get the most value during the planning and preparation stage.

Going to market with a message that rings true, is compelling and succinct are all crucial factors. But messages that provide a call to action and differentiate you from your competitors really indicate that your messaging has hit the mark. Without these factors, it might be too expensive an exercise and sometimes too late to go back to the drawing board.

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Understanding Analyst Briefing Policies is Only Half the Battle Mon, 12 Jul 2010 17:02:37 +0000 Melissa Grant On Wednesday, July 7th, @IIAR Tweeted “Hearing rumours about reputable analyst firm only taking briefings from current or about-to-be clients. Anyone else coming across the same?” This is a familiar rumor which can stem from a number of sources. Analyst firms change their policies, new, boutique or hybrid analyst/consultants have policies different from those of the largest firms, and vendors that don’t get their briefing requests accepted complain that industry analysts are “pay-for-play.”

Let’s address these separately.

First, we checked with Forrester, IDC and Gartner. All confirmed that they do accept briefings from non-clients. All briefings, be they from clients or non-clients, are at the discretion of the analyst. So, if your product, strategy, technology or company is relevant to the analyst’s research and is compelling, you’ve got as good a chance as anyone to get your briefing.

Second, there are a number of smaller analyst firms that have varied policies depending on their business models. Some firms take briefings from anyone about anything; the idea is that the shotgun effect will net them the broadest industry information and business development opportunities. Others are highly selective and due to limited schedules, emphasis on custom research or narrow topical focus take briefings only from a handful of vendors. Still others fall into a grey area of analyst/consultants who take briefings from vendors who are clients or are soon-to-be clients. These firms are focused on custom consulting, so they spend their time learning about the companies they specifically work for. Where the confusion arises is that ALL of these folks are generally referred to as “industry analysts” regardless of policy.

So know your analysts and analyst firms, or work with someone who does.

That said, let’s get to the heart of the issue; not all briefings are accepted. There are a number of reasons for this of course; wrong analyst target, uninteresting content, bad pitch, lack of news, timing not in synch with trends, etc. etc. The truth is, many briefings are requested with little or no insight into the expertise, research agenda or interests of the analysts they are aiming to speak with. The reason for this is that many vendors, and the agencies that support them, practice only Outbound AR. Doing only Outbound AR means doing only half of AR’s job – from which one can logically expect half the results.

Inbound AR consists of doing the research, preparation and relationship building to inform yourself before you strike out to inform the analysts. This is best accomplished through inquiry (which does require a client relationship) conducted either by the vendor themselves or through the support of an agency with dedicated AR specialists that hold research and inquiry seats. Executing Inbound AR nets the information about research priorities, emerging technology themes, areas of client interest, competitive insights and analyst opinions that not only ensure a briefing is accepted, but turn a briefing into a long-term influencer relationship impacting your market perception, sales and valuation.

Think of it this way; AR is a lot like the U.S. judicial system. Justice is guaranteed for all, but more money gets you a better lawyer. Likewise, analysts do not operate in a primarily pay-to-play environment – access is provided fairly to clients and non-clients alike. But paid access to the analysts and their research makes it that much easier for you to target the right analysts and understand their agendas.

The balance of Inbound and Outbound AR is the real secret sauce of doing Analyst Relations, and that is a rumor we can confirm.

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