The technology services industry has evolved at such a frightful pace in recent months, I won’t be surprised that in some time it may be renamed as Digital Services industry doing completely away with the traditional era terms. In the immediate future, some of the older legacy phrases may just fade away too and if you happen to accidentally glance your archived notes and stumble on words like ERP, PCs, TCP – you may wonder just how we managed them all.
Many of us in marketing or allied areas probably took a cursory glance at several of such technology deployments, and understood them at a superficial level. From thereon, had a quick glance of some of the ‘decks’, added some dollops of prose and there is your pitch. Several times without even collaborating with the technology experts. A quick snip, snap job. Precisely for this reason the inability to convincingly narrate, articulate and comprehend how technology specifically solves business and functional issues became the sore point for some leaders. This gradual build-up of a shallow knowledge base resulted in several leaders believing that Analyst Relations professionals are just ‘meeting schedulers’.
At times, without setting expectations it is expected that the content is like any other pitch. It’s a simple job of getting the jargon in place, leverage the software package for some glossy icons, charts, throw in that abused image of a cloud and there you are, the deck sitting pretty ready to be relayed! Familiar – isn’t it? Imagine, receiving this every hour, every day from all kinds of enterprises.
When does it Begin?
The entire process commences much before you even reach out to the research firm. It’s the introspection you do after understanding what an organization is aiming to be best at. Not just revenue, headcount numbers, but the ability to construct the story line on what are we taking, for whom, and how that will accelerate them (the customer) to grow much, much faster. For instance, create a war room when preparing for the marquee ranking reports and allocate roles to multiple folks. Set expectations, brief, get them to deliver, evaluate.
Once you have the draft ready, request another analyst (of the same firm) to give you an audience for a rehearsal before you finally go on air for that final pitch of the Wave or MQ or MarketScape. The feedback, critique you’d receive will be enormous, and the perspectives provided will add tremendously to your final product that will get presented to that end customer (the analysts).
Remember, it’s a story not just to be narrated, but the ability to enable the listener to Experience it. And the prep to that Experience takes weeks, months to hone. Daunting, but worth every second you spend.
The efforts required are massive, but these practices can be replicated and improved after several levels of engagements. Very often, it is mistaken to be the next level of Public Relations and by that I don’t demean what PR professionals do. The essence for AR teams is to be able to deliver the pitch if the respective leader is not available. This is easier said than done, as several times the content is extremely technical and does need a seasoned hand to deliver the message effectively. However, if the storyline is strong enough to convince the analyst – AR professionals too should be able to understand and simplify the conversation discussion. Don’t we all love sessions that simplify how hybrid cloud gives superior benefits to a customer who is unable to decide between a public and private one!
At every given opportunity if AR professionals step up to volunteer and deliver what businesses do, the perspective of technology leaders improves dramatically. The takeaway for them is – here is a team that not only has superlative analyst relationships, but also knows how to walk the talk, how to pitch, respond to queries convincingly, and summarize succinctly. A strong reinforcement where the AR teams can get involved in several nuances as the business team devise plans for their customer engagement requirements.
The fundamental steps commence when the AR leader acknowledges the need, as well as ensures the team members undergo a series of prep sessions. A genuine effort requires time, investments, and series of consistent feedback sessions that will change the approach to the entire lifecycle. Some of the top analysts too can help provide you feedback on your thought process and areas to improve. Additionally, several marketing team members already have immense exposure to various horizontal and verticals through their day to day engagements, and that can be effectively used as well. With immense potential available that needs to be harnessed, the ability to carefully nurture skill sets in best possible manner will remain critical.
With Digital now becoming the signpost of success, AR professionals are today in an exciting period by being able to introduce an ingenious approach using various tenets through mobile devices, twitter handles, LinkedIn updates and so on.
We are now at the cusp of changing the game, in a way and approach we want to. Let’s go grab it!