2012 must be the year when Analyst Relations generates leads

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Because analysts’ opinions are amongst the most authoritative content being discussed about technology, both online and offline, analyst relations should be an essential element of both B2B and B2C marketing in 2012. Sadly, the profession of analyst relations is struggling to evolve and to keep its place at the table when marketing communications strategy is being elaborated. That’s partly because both analyst relations and influencer marketing approaches have not been well enough connected to lead generation.

Analyst relations teams, which are being increasingly stretched, are working more reactively than proactively. In many firm, AR is retreating to its traditional core: increasing the volume of information dissemination to increase analyst coverage and (hopefully) test messages.

Various approaches towards influencer relations have been tried. The general approach, as we’ve discussed especially with regard to influencer50, has been to map the influencer landscape through something similar to social network analysis. Social media complicates this task, since its ease of availability can push firms towards monitoring, and taking part in, only the online conversation: influencers’ personal opinions are often made, and reflected, offline.

As Heidi Schall has pointed out in Social Media in Influencer Relations the growth of social media has amplified the role of analysts and placed them centrally in the influencer landscape. Star analysts have produced strong personal brands with more vibrancy than impersonal corporate brands. The analysts’ use of social media allows them to grow from being trusted advisors to also a powerful driver of the online conversation.

While Schall is perfectly correct, I think the challenge is that AR has more to learn from content marketing than from influencer relations. AR teams need to focus more on the real outputs of the analysts’ work and to see how that content can be used to generate conversations. As Doug Kessler says: traditional marketing talks at people; content marketing talks with them.

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