On March 3rd 2014, Kea Company announced its purchase of SageCircle. It’s great news for the analyst relations profession, and I am excited that Dave Eckert will be joining our advisory board. I’m looking forward to Kea’s role in developing SageCircle’s contribution. The press release explains that SageCircle has developed an immense reputation: “The integration of SageCircle’s vast expertise underlines Kea Company’s global Analyst Relations leadership. It strengthens Kea Company’s existing presence in the US market.”
Ten years ago, when SageCircle’s investors pulled out, it temporarily closed. In a note I wrote at that time for clients, I explained Sage’s strengths.
- • Analyst-led: SageCircle was analyst-led. Former Gartner analysts like Carter Lusher, Chris Germann, Dave Cappuccio, and Chris Le Tocq gave the firm deep understanding of the pain analysts feel when meeting badly-prepared vendors. SageCircle, like its competitors Kensington Group and Knowledge Capital Group, opted to not run analyst relations activities for its customers.Without the continually-refreshed, front-line learning one can get from building analyst relationships for a vendor, SageCircle’s former analysts were a huge asset in overcoming the insight lost by refusing to conduct analyst outreach.
- • Top to bottom: The firm addressed itself to AR programs at every stage of development: not only the largest firms but also the smallest. The needs of the programs differ greatly. Large firms have in-house AR teams that need help in optimizing processes, training, winning executives’ time, defending and extending gains made in their internal political process and selling internally. Small firms need the basics: why analyst relations matters; how to target; what to say; who to use; when to contact analysts; where to allocate the bulk of their effort. Both sets of skills are essential.
- • Sales-led: SageCircle positioned analyst relations as a way to grow sales, not as a way to optimize media profile or coverage volume. This is a key conceptual break in moving analyst relations away from the subordination to media relations which constrains many analyst relations programs.
- • Objective measurements: SageCircle also developed measurement approaches that were focused on monitoring analyst opinions in research and the media. At the time the firm was founded, many AR measurement tools were based either on dangerously subjective, and often self-serving, “audits”of conversations or on surveying analysts opinions of the communications tools and channels that firms used. By focusing on written content rather than technique alone, SageTrack, the firm’s tool for measuring analyst tonality in published research and media interview, helped elevate AR to a strategic, sales-building, activity.
- • Capacity building: SageCircle played an important role in sharing knowledge, best practice and awareness of analyst relations both within and without its client base. Using seminars, conference calls, briefing notes and white papers the company aimed to give analyst relations advocates the tools they needed to educate the broad marketing community with the understanding and basic mind-set needed to conduct effective analyst relations.”
When Dave Eckert reopened the business a few months later, he maintained these strengths. Now that he is transitioning into an active retirement, and remaining a sage to guide Kea, our task is to build on the work already done, and to bring those strengths and more to a wider audience.