Carter’s comments on how AR should respond to budget cuts should encourage AR directors to take a fundamental look at their AR programmes. We still think that most analyst relations effort is wasted. From top-to-bottom, AR professionals should review the goals, the challenges and the solutions – and take a realistic assessment of the internal support they can in obtaining the difference resources that AR programmes need to succeed.
Many AR managers struggle to show the measurable benefits of analyst relations:
- The increasing of analysts’ propensity to recommend the firm, which we measure though our multi-client Analyst Attitude Surveys. Other methods can be executed through your business development function, such as win-loss analysis and surveys of prospective clients.
- The profile of your firm in analysts’ research is strongly indicative of analysts’ confidence in recommending vendors, and can be shown through the Analyst Index.
- Mentions of your firm by analysts cited in the media are tracked in many ways. None are perfect, but our forthcoming QuickTier service will combine desk research with numerous third-party resources.
- Analysts’ guidance to your executives can give an undoubted boost to your firm’s operations. It’s easy to use analysts’ billing rates to monetize the value of the time analysts use to give you their insight. What’s harder is to measure the value their insight helps your executives to unlock.
However, there are a number of obstacles that many AR programmes struggle to overcome. These obstacles tend to flow from a common root. Generally, the subset of industry analysts that vendors-side staff come into most contact with is the set of analysts who obtain most of their revenue from vendors, and are highly focussed on a particular technology. Most vendor executives will find these analysts more satisfying to speak with than others with more customer influence.
- Often, AR professionals’ colleagues overstate vendor-centric analysts’ importance whose niche revenues comes mainly from vendors.
- The challenge for many AR managers is to find the analysts that clients will approach over the problem that the vendors’ technology solves. Often these will not be analysts specialised in the technology. For example, we could cite the example of a major bank looking to integrate credit card systems across state boundaries. The bank might speak to an analyst who follows financial systems in Europe generally, and might have no deep knowledge of very large databases.
- Vendors often can’t see the limits of ‘incumbents’ . The vendor might have a protected ‘cash cow’ niche, for example, in which analyst influence is weak, and under-estimate analyst influence in more competitive high-growth markets. Similarly, they might have strong relationships with an analyst house in their domestic market, but not understand that a different analyst house in influential in an attractive export market.
Our experience is that our IDEAL methodology is a powerful tool to help managers responsible for AR to ensure balance and focus in their work.
- Identifying analysts is essential if firms are to target their effort.
- To drive and develop AR, firms need to have a benchmark to show where they are, and how they can get to where they want to be.
- Engaging analysts requires a lot more use of resource-light ‘broadband’ communications with less influential analysts. Newsletters, spotlights, events, extranets, webinars, and conference calls can cover off a large number of less-important analysts. That frees up time to provide highly personalised, continuous, discussions with influential analysts.
- Alignment with the rest of the business is crucial. Existing resources need to used at every opportunity. Many more AR managers need to consider executive coaching and training for colleagues and agency staff who need to independently develop relationships with second or third-tier analysts. Spokespeople at every level need to be develop, and need to understand that the business wants to say to analysts.
- Leverage is where the programme stresses support for business development. AR managers need to see how they can feed back the results of the AR programme to the rest of the business. Support for press releases, white papers, ‘silver bullets’ for salespeople, research spotlights and analysts attending events are effective routines that can grow into more strategic programmes of sales support.