Analyst relations is a marketing activity, in more ways than one. Analyst relations is normally part of the marketing department of companies. And, if marketing is the process of identifying, anticipating and satisfying consumers’ requirements, then analyst relations is the process of identifying, anticipating and satisfying analysts’ actual needs (and not only their explicit needs, but also what we can observe to be their tacit needs).
Most importantly, analyst relations is a marketing discipline. Brand consistency is very important, especially with complex organisations where the solutions change so often that the brand promise has to subsist in the experience of being a customer, and not just in the experience of using the solution.
Co-ordinating the messages of spokespeople with the rest of the organisation is also a marketing activity. Many spokespeople focus on their own narrow slice of the organisation. When speaking with analysts, however, they can struggle to join up the picture with the firm’s firm of the market. Instead of focussing on the way in which technology is developing, spokespeople need to focus on what is changing in the customer community. That’s a tricky standpoint to master, and one that requires a marketing standpoint. We’ll take about that more when we discuss the third credo next week.
Because AR can play a powerful role in testing and developing messages, it’s often best if AR is part of the marketing organisation. However there’s a difference between marketing and the marketing department. If marketing is about identifying, anticipating and satisfying consumers’ requirements then the marketing process is most organisations is in product management, and not in the so-called marketing department. What is called marketing is often only promotion.
If the marketing department is disconnected from the whole marketing process, then AR has to try to connect up outside the marketing department, and especially link into business development and product management. AR has to maximise the alignment between AR the rest of the organization. Our view is the focus has to be on marketing, the process of understanding and meeting needs. However, that means sometimes tensions will exist between AR and the the marketing department.
Those tensions are especially common because at lot of marketing is aspirational: it relates to where the customer or the supplier would like to be, and often that does not reflect that the client really needs, or what the vendor can actually offer. AR managers need to steer away from aspirations, and instead focus on realities. Messages should be based on solid facts and on the very best case studies. And they also need to be used as the basis for discussion, rather than served up like still-life sculptures. We’ll talk about that more in the third Credo, that messages need to be the basis for two-way communication within the vendor organisation.