Monday, 18 May 2015
When it comes to AR - does size matter?
Guest post: Eria Odhuba analyst relations lead for The CommsCrowd .asks, when it comes to conducting an industry analyst relations programme, does company size matter?
I’ve had the privilege of working with every type of technology company - from mighty household names, to hungry start-ups. While many may differ, the goal is still the same for their AR programmes – they want to make sure they are on the radars of relevant analysts that cover their technologies and, hopefully, fall into conversations analysts have with their clients.
In a previous post, I covered building meaningful relationships with analysts even if you don’t pay them. The key perception that vendors need to overcome is that they must have large budgets to be on the analyst radar. Well – that is just not true. Here is why:
For super large vendors – AR programmes are normally multi-faceted (especially if there are different business groups that need to build a story that shows they are fully integrated with each other, and where the vendor needs to show growth in multiple markets). More often than not, there are opportunities for numerous engagements with analysts as there is a lot to update them on. Occasionally, analysts are writing reports looking at key vendors and they need to keep in touch to make sure they represent the vendor properly. Basically, there are more opportunities to build comprehensive AR programmes that have an impact on the bottom line.
At the other end of the scale are the start-ups.... yikes, where do you start? Actually, you start by first finding out what you’re passionate about and what problems you are looking to solve. You may not have the budgets larger vendors have, but you’re doing something interesting (hopefully) and touching people they probably don’t want to or can’t, and making your clients’ lives better. Crucially, you can be mavericks as you don’t have to defend vested interests or fight internal political battles that sometimes happen at larger vendors.
Whether you have large or small resources certain basic principles apply for an AR programme to succeed. These include:
· Doing some homework on your messaging to make sure you are absolutely clear on what problems you are actually solving and what solutions you have to help clients. You really need to make sure there actually is a problem you are solving;
· Identifying who actually needs your solutions and ideally, or if you’re lucky, finding out more about their decision-making process to see how they use analyst research to select technology solutions;
· Finding out which analysts are covering the technology solutions you provide, and tracking their research plans and speaking engagements;
· Using multiple communication channels, including social media, to amplify your message and get people to follow what you say as you drive or contribute to relevant discussions. If you’re a start-up - be provocative. You have no time for timidity;
· Taking the plunge and speaking to the analysts you’ve identified;
· If you’re lucky enough to have analysts interested in speaking to you, take on board their feedback and make sure they see you addressing any concerns they have raised.
So, those are the basics. You really can’t do much more if you’re a smaller vendor simply looking to start engaging with analysts. That is a good start! You just need to be realistic about the frequency of interactions you have and depth of programmes possible. If you are a start up with 15-50 employees, you will not have the frequency and depth of engagements a mega vendor has, but you can still make waves. And analysts will speak to you if you’re willing to accept that they will not promise quarterly updates or publish a report four weeks after meeting you.
As you get bigger and perhaps have larger budgets, your challenges as an organisation will change. There are more opportunities for competitors to hit back at you and you have to show you can continue to grow and defend yourself from all the FUD competitors will throw at your clients or prospects.
Now you can start thinking about more commercial relationships with the analysts – white papers, subscriptions, speaking gigs or event support. And be sure any feedback is integrated into your internal market intelligence, and that sales / marketing teams benefit from the enhanced relationships.
If you’re careful, you will have made sure you’ve used the interactions with analysts to identify who actually impacts your target market and can actually help you (without compromising their independence). While respecting the analysts and how they work, you can make better decisions about which paid engagements to plan for and how these help your wider marketing and sales teams to do their jobs more effectively.