Wednesday, 21 March 2007

AR 101 Series: John Lyotier on scheduling analyst briefings

John Lyotier, marketing manager at Marqui, wrote this post on its blog back in 2005.
We like it so much, we thought we'd give it a wider audience. Thanks John!


For the last week or so I've been busily making arrangements for Marqui to speak with industry analysts from a number of well known groups, such as AMR Research, Gartner, IDC, etc. Now, many companies are under the impression that the only way to get any attention from such firms is to pay them.

This is absolutely incorrect.

Granted, it may be easier to get multiple meetings if you are a paying client (it's part of the service after all), but all of the reputable firms will take at least 1-2 briefings without charging a dime -- in fact, most of them accept briefings on a yearly basis from non-paying companies.

The exact process varies depending on the firm but typically companies will be asked to submit some basic information via e-mail or an online form. This usually includes:

  • A brief company overview, including employee headcount, headquarters address, etc.
  • The objective for the meeting (e.g., is it for a general introduction or perhaps a product update)
  • A list of company representatives planning to attend the meeting
  • The names of the analyst(s) you'd prefer to meet with (NOTE: the process will move much faster if you have researched and correctly identified 1-2 relevant analysts. Most groups post analyst bios and a list of recent reports on their web sites so it shouldn't be too difficult to find this information.)
  • A few dates and times for a meeting

The process takes anywhere from 48 hours to 2-3 weeks so I'd highly recommend starting a month in advance if you are trying to arrange briefings around a major corporate or product launch.

In terms of how to get things started with some of the biggies:

  • For Gartner, send an e-mail to Within 24 hours, you'll receive a briefing request form to complete and send back.
  • For AMR Research, click here and fill out the form.
  • For Forrester, click here and fill out the form.
  • For IDC, click here and fill out the form (NOTE: The form varies depending on whether or not your company has briefed IDC in the last 12 months, so be sure to follow the directions.)

If you've worked with a particular group before or have a PR agency (or analyst relations firm) that has, you might be able to bypass all of the forms by sending an e-mail directly to the appropriate analyst. However, given how many e-mails and briefing requests these folks receive it might actually be faster to go through the formal process.

Monday, 12 March 2007

AR Classics: Analyst Upheaval: What to Do About It

Four years ago, former Giga vice-president Gay Slesinger wrote this guidance about how to deal with analyst depatures. Since Gay wrote this she shuttered her business iMarket Strategies. We'd love to know what happened to her.


"Are you there? Please be there," Analyst Relations pros must think every time they contact the key industry analysts in their segment.

No wonder, given the upheaval in the IT industry over the past three years. The IT analysis firms suffered as well, with declining revenues and customer bases, leading to acquisitions, layoffs and closures.

Not helping the fear of here-today-gone-tomorrow was Gartner's December 5 announcement that it is laying off 200 workers, or 5 percent of its 3,800-person global work force.

Many analysts, including senior and "star" analysts, have left their firms proactively or due to layoffs, often forming small boutique firms that focus on a technology or a vertical industry, or going solo as analyst relations consultants or subject matter experts. This trend contributes to a significant rise in the number of ex-analysts and firms in the market.

According to Norma LaRosa, CEO of the Kensington Group, Inc., there are approximately 20,000 IT analysts worldwide. Kensington tracks 450 firms, more than double the number just two years ago.

The good news for vendors is that there is much more expertise available for a variety of prices, although the bad news lies in determining which analysts to focus on for Analyst Relations.

The key is influence. Some analysts who exit major firms continue to be influential with their long-standing IT customers. For this reason, although many vendors keep their subscriptions to the major analyst firms, they also contract with the individual or boutique analysts for feedback and the impact of their influence.

But for any analyst who leaves a firm, only time will tell if that person will continue to have influence with IT customers, or if their former colleagues or competitors will fill that role. The analysts who remain at firms when others depart may find that they now cover more vendors, answer to more clients and are responsible for a wider scope of technologies, covering additional topics beyond their core expertise.

So what is an AR pro to do in this environment? Some recommendations:

  1. •Don't just talk with the star analysts at a firm; include their lesser known colleagues within the same subject matter area. They may be "A" players soon.
  2. •Develop a program for bringing new or junior analysts up-to-speed on your company and products as soon as possible. Ask the analysts what information they want to receive and how they want to receive it. Ask what reports the analysts are working on and provide relevant information.
  3. •Remember that AR is a relationship business, not just a marketing program. The analysts' value goes beyond the data they analyze and the trends they spot - it's also the people they know and what they say to them. What analysts literally say to their customers one-on-one can be more important to an IT purchase than what they write in reports to their subscribers as a group. Similarly, the quality of the relationship you build with analysts can be more important than the data you share.
  4. •Prepare your AR staff and briefing team, especially senior executives, for the fact that they may be dealing with someone less experienced and less knowledgeable about your company than in the past.
  5. •Consider using the services of independent analysts or boutique firms, especially if your company or budget is small. If an analyst had a stellar reputation among customers while at a larger firm, the individual may continue to have sway. Regardless, these analysts can still provide vendors with valuable analysis and feedback.
  6. •If you use independent or boutique analyst firms, monitor their influence with your IT customers and prospects. Ask buyers which analysts influence their purchase decisions - their answers may change over time. Notice which analysts continue to have influence or impact when they are no longer part of their former firms' brand. Are the analysts still in touch with vendors? With IT customers? Can they add value to your AR program? To your product development, market research and marketing?
  7. •If you are a customer of analyst firms, monitor the quality and frequency of the reports that cover the technology segments and vendors you are interested in reviewing, as an end-user consumer of research and as a marketer of products. As a customer, you have a right to make requests for better, broader or deeper research.
  8. •Negotiate for better rates as a customer, especially if you are dissatisfied with the quality of the reports or the exit of key analysts. Analyst firms need the revenue. It's cheaper for them to keep you as a customer than to replace you.
  9. •Remember that although the firms and the people change, your AR purpose remains the same: positive influence.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Is DST really the top tech issue?

Is it just me?

Gartner's website is leading on the impact of Daylight Saving Time. Three of Gartner's vice-presidents have united to tell us that "While not on the scale of Y2K, this change could generate problems that modestly disrupt business operations, irritate customers and tarnish professional reputations."

By the time this news reached Gartner's PR team, the modest disruption seems to have grown. "Imminent Changes to US Daylight Saving Time Will Have Global Business Implications", said the firm. Readers outside the US should know that DST has been extended by four weeks here. This takes some software applications off the calendar they would have expected prior to 2005.

We accept that Gartner's research need not be at the leading edge because it focusses on the needs of big businesses. However, we have two concerns. First, if they want to get out of the CIO niche then leading with this kind of story looks really odd. They look super-geeky: almost as bad as IDC. Second, we just don't think it's that important. If even Gartner says it will have a smaller impact than Y2K, then who will even notice?

[CIO mind] Analyst reports: How to read them?

In this post (Analyst reports: How to read them) Felix addresses the basic rules of reading research: check who wrote it and do your homework.

We would add:

  • Understand the business model of the analyst firm (is it vendor facing or do their revenues come from end-users?)
  • Check if the report sponsored
  • Have a look at the methodology, and in particular at the sample size and distribution (did the analyst interview 5 clients in Cincinatti or did they survey 120 firms distributed in EMEA with a fair split by industry?)

    But more importantly, is the analyst riding the hype wave (like Yankee in the old days) or do they provide actionable advice?

    Special mention for market shares: whereas numbers are generally very accurate on a WW or EMEA basis, regardless of the technology. However, requesting 2 or 3 dimensional cuts from the data cube (for instance market shares for Managed Services in Denmark and Retail Banking) is asking for trouble. Do NOT EVER EVER base compensation on market share without having a discussion with the analyst on the statistical confidence interval.

    ARmadgeddon's takes:
  • The huge variability in research quality hides a constant improvement: analysts are getting better at cutting the hype and providing meaningful actionable recommendations for users. The downside is that research notes have become a bit less entertaining.
  • Don't read research naively as if it was excerpts from a holy book. Dissect, reflect and question.
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