Monday, 28 October 2013

Guest post: How to ensure AR programmes deliver to the bottom line - part one

The first of my guest posts, courtesy of Eria Odhuba, a founder member of The Comms Crowd and our resident analyst relations guru:



There are many reports about how to conduct an analyst relations (AR) programme and you can also follow discussions on various LinkedIn groups too. Many of these cover some common areas, such as how to provide a good briefing or how to track and tier analysts. Yet some people find it difficult to measure the impact AR has on the bottom line and as a result, AR can be seen by the board simply as a cost centre with marketing teams struggling to extract and prove its value.

In this three-part series, we will look at how to integrate your good work with analysts and your analyst work with wider marketing activities, ensuring everything feeds into your overall objectives.

What defines a successful AR programme?
Successful AR programs use analysts to improve lead generation, shorten sales cycles and retain customers. That’s basically it!

When managing AR, companies should avoid briefing analysts simply with the short term aim of receiving positive feedback or a quote for a press release. Success has to have a positive effect on a company’s bottom line.

Look at the bigger picture: Analysts influence purchase decisions, through their reports, through a recommendation or as a result of help given by analysts to position a company more effectively within its target market. 

In a successful AR programme, marketing and sales teams work closely together. They involve analysts in the different steps of their mutually supportive strategies and ensure analyst feedback is shared internally with specific action resulting in more competitive positioning and compelling messaging, with customer focused products and services.

Give your AR programme a health check

Diagnosing of an ailing AR programme, does your AR programme suffer from any of the following?

· Lack of strategic direction, looking only for the endorsement or quote;
· Focus is on one-off engagements rather than building a relationship;
· You are deprived of the time, expertise or resources required to run a measurable programme;
· Lack of synchronicity with briefings not timed around analyst research or events;
· Analysts are treated in the same way as press when they are quite different creatures requiring an entirely different approach;
· Lack of preparation and training before speaking to analysts;
· Analyst feedback is not shared internally;
· Your AR programme is detached from other lead generation and sales activities.

Resulting symptoms of an ailing AR programme,  have you noticed any of the following struggles in your organisation?

· Difficulty forming an approach for new target markets as lack of independent insight;
· Outdated knowledge of key business or legislative drivers;
· Assumptions have to be made of what drives competitive success without independent testing;
· Limited ideas for possible partnership strategies;
· Limited channel knowledge and insights into where prospects look for information resulting in no new routes to market;
· Poor understanding if company messaging are resonating due to an absence of message testing strategies.

Check list to get your AR programme back in shape:

It’s really a matter of setting out your AR campaign with the same amount of diligence you would any other key engagement programme:

· Be clear what you want to get out of an AR programme. Raising awareness is all well and good but if it does not result in more leads or better client retention, then you need to change it;
· Get stakeholder buy in. Train spokespeople and teams about the value analysts provide;
· Develop proper metrics. Measuring briefing numbers and report mentions, running perception audits or getting placed in various analyst rating scales is all good. However, if there is no positive impact on the bottom line then you need to change your rethink the metrics you use;
· Define and target the right experts. Think about individual analysts and not just the firms they work for. Find out how they get information and influence decision-making processes. Don’t forget analysts from small or niche firms as they may have a unique market impact that you could leverage;
· Plan regular engagements to gain trust instead of one-off jobs every year, such as at events. Be prepared to follow up with information that actually helps an analyst with their research.

In the next post, we will start looking at the impact AR can have on various marketing tactics. and in  part three, we’ll look at some thorny marketing problems AR can help solve.

Post script: These three AR posts have proved pretty popular. So we've put them together, ripped out the fluff, given it a bit of structure and turned them into a whitepaper, which you are welcome to download here:




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