PR Niblets

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"Top 10 Secrets to Great Analyst Relations" by Judith M. Rothrock

Industry analyst relations are a critical component of most technology companies' external marketing campaigns. Ignore the analysts and you prospectively lose important third party endorsements, inclusion in RFIs and RFPs, citations in the media and more.

In this guest blog, Judith M. Rothrock, president of JRocket Marketing, an analyst relations and outsourced chief marketing officer organization, offers 20+ years of street smarts on how to effectively engage in analyst relations. JRocket Marketing and Feintuch Communications are strategic partners; Mr. Feintuch has known and worked with Ms. Rothrock in a variety of capacities for nearly 30 years.


Recently I was asked by an industry colleague how JRocket Marketing is able to get even small vendors attention by the technology analyst firms….when the IT market is dominated by billion-dollar behemoths. Here is the JRocket Marketing Tip Sheet:

1. Homework: Know the analyst; pull their bio, note prior companies, schools, etc. Connect the dots and build the relationship off of his or her background. For example, knowing that Mint Jutras www.mintjutras.com principal Cindy Jutras is a math and science whiz from Boston University http://www.bu.edu/ … is going to at least get her to take your call if your brother/sister/aunt/uncle went there and/or you have a penchant for engineering!

2. Competitive P.I.: Super sleuth how your targeted analysts report on your competitors; what they like and don’t like, and get a good grasp of where the biases are going to be. A little private investigating goes a long way towards exploiting opportunities and avoiding pitfalls. For example, if you are in the enterprise solutions space and want to speak about “agility,” you need to know what UNIT4 has said on the topic www.unit4.com.

3. Packaging: Spin works. Net clever messages work. Complex acronyms and boring R&D speak (unless you are talking to an architecture analyst) will put your target analysts to sleep. Be sticky read http://www.amazon.com/Made-Stick-Ideas-Survive-Others/dp/1400064287/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321920765&sr=8-1

4. Powerpoint Simplicity: 50 page powerpoints scream one (or both) of these messages: I’m not sure what’s most important about my company/differentiation; I haven’t done this before so I am going to dump it all on you to figure out. Tight net presentations of 20 slides and one hour are perfect for getting key points across to analysts who are overloaded with sometimes 25+ vendor briefings per week. Skip the highly complex slides that deliver TMI. SYSPRO U.S.’s http://www.syspro.us.com/ ‘Einstein Theory’ received more traction than 60 page powerpoints previously given on the same/similar products.

5. I.V. Drips not Overloads: Analysts are often booked hourly (like lawyers) and three hour (unbillable) meetings and ongoing non-urgent information is going to peg you as a time waster to be avoided. Twice yearly face to face meetings, augmented by 2 additional WebEx’s on launches, acquisitions or other hot topics are plenty for a smaller (non-Microsoft) sized company …but share your key press releases via linked emails and/or twitter. JRocket Marketing’s Grape Escape http://www.jrocketmarketing.com/grape_escape.html is a great example of how to showcase your messaging annually and draw big analyst crowds.

6. Hot Topics: Stay abreast of the industry – what’s hot, what’s not, what’s game changing. They package your messaging to pick up on these trends because that’s what the analysts will be writing about. Check out Gartner’s Top 10 Technology Trends for 2012 http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/gartner-10-key-it-trends-2012

7. Travel Tie-Ins: Get the target analysts travel schedule and dovetail it to ANY locales, happenings or home bases of you or your key executives. Build in a lunch, dinner or airport coffee time to build the face-time relationship. Social media is GREAT, but relationships bond across a meal table.

8. Newbie Knowledge: New analysts (often from the vendor or press community) are feeling their way and grateful for any data you can share about their new assignment. Help them, and they help you! Send a welcome letter, start a file about any personal information they choose to share (spouse, kids/ages, hobbies)…and don’t forget the flowers if they have an illness or major accident because they will never forget YOU for it! Recommendations: for women analysts, nothing says it like a personalized “analyst of the year” Vermont teddy bear http://www.vermontteddybear.com/ or Pro Flowers http://www.proflowers.com/ plant and Mrs. Fields cookie combo … I’ve built 20 year relationships from just doing the “right thing” as we New Yorkers say (and it makes YOU feel great to do it!).

9. Scoops: If your company is the first to do something – bring in your most important analyst under NDA and get them a pre-briefing prior to launch. Some firms will allow a press quote, but even for the larger ones (Gartner http://www.gartner.com/, Forrester http://www.forrester.com/, or IDC http://www.idc.com/) an advance briefing will put them in a position to take a reporter’s call to provide color on the topic.

10. Respect (Both Ways): This is the most challenging tightwire act of analyst relations. Not all analysts treat smaller vendors with the same respect they give “the big boys” and there are quite a few egos. On the flip side, there are dozens of wonderful analysts out there who you can cultivate career-long friendships with. I’ve found that (contrary to what’s staffed at most PR agencies) that AR people who have deep, experienced knowledge of their market, their products and their competitors’ actions get the best shake from analysts. I’ve also found that there are some analysts that, regardless of how earthshaking your IT breakthrough is, will never believe that a small company announcement trumps even mundane news from the giants. Read Brian Sommer’s grid on the types of analysts for a good comedic look at the various analyst “types” in the market http://www.zdnet.com/blog/sommer/humor-the-rosetta-stone-of-it-industry-analysts/1089?tag=content;siu-container.

Visit http://www.jrocketmarketing.com/ for more information or follow Judith Rothrock on twitter @JRocketMarket.

 

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