Measure AR’s business value to control risk

A key part of Lighthouse’s approach to AR measurement is that it not only help prove that it’s adding value, but also helps businesses control their risk of being outflanked by competitors.

The flip side is also true: AR teams that are only measuring their own activity, or outputs that might not reflect real business value, will keep on getting hit from both sides: from their colleagues and from their competitors. For example, tracking analyst quotations and scoring them for tonality is a laborious activity: we do it ourselves though a service called Analyst Track. Tracking media coverage is great under two circumstances:

  1. If your managers think that analyst comment to the media is influential
  2. If you are in the lower mid-market or small office market, where media impact is provable.

However, tracking media coverage is dangerous under some other circumstances:

  1. Your AR team stops influencing analysts who are not cited in the media (in fact, those are rather more influential than analysts with very high media profile)
  2. You are in mainstream business-to-business markets, where media impact is marginal
  3. When it is the only measure being used.

The reality is that if you don’t measure the forms of analyst impact that affect your business, then you can’t show if AR is producing the right results for the business. Not only does that mean that you can’t make a case for defending or extending your resources: it also means that analysts are more likely to overtake you, and that you are less likely to spot it when it happens.

Indeed, the real risk is not measuring what the business values, and the bigger the firm, the bigger the risk.

Earlier this month we talked about the special issues that Giant firms have with the AR. Every competitive vendor, of any size, benchmarks themselves against Giant firms like Cisco, Dell, IBM and Microsoft. Everyone in the industry sees these as the people to beat. It’s very hard to know what is going to come and hit your competitively unless you track what your competitors are doing.

Of course, metrics also have a strategic role and a tactical role.

  • Using the right metrics, you can see not only what your relative position is, but also why. That was, you can shift your strategy. This is a particular strength of in-depth studies that interview hundreds or scores of analysts: they let you see trends within geographies and industries. That insight can help you see ways to improve your AR effectiveness through re-focussing your spokesperson onto ‘pain points’, like go-to-market channels and competitive analysis, where most vendors struggle deeply to communicate effectively.
  • Tactically, metrics can also help you to understand the allocation of your AR resources between companies, analysts and communication tactics.

Fundamentally, measurements need to reflect, track and meet internal goals. If you want to measure sales impact, then track that. If you want to shift the debate in the media, shift that. If core awareness is the issue, then focus on the gap between you and your competitors’ profile. If the issue is favorable, then focus on broad surveys (don’t assume that they key 150 analysts worldwide all think the same about your firm as the 15 you focus on: they don’t!).

Crucially, understand the value that AR is expected to deliver and set measures accordingly. If your managers thinks that AR has simple goals, then the budget will only be there for simple measures of profile and awareness. There’s no need for richer analysis. However, if AR has complex expectations, then goals and measurements need to be correspondingly refined.

Duncan Chapple

Duncan Chapple is the preeminent consultant on optimising international analyst relations and the value created by analyst firms. As SageCircle research director, Chapple directs programs that assess and increase the business value of relationships with industry analysts and sourcing advisors.