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Analyst Briefings at CES: One Shot Is Not Enough

By Jeff Kagan
Jan 7, 2016 5:00 AM PT
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Why do so many companies fail at industry analyst relations? Since the best answer might come from an industry analyst, I'll share a few thoughts with you. I'll also share some secrets for building a successful long-term technology analyst program. Hint: It's about being on the growth side of the wave.

This is a good week to address this issue, since CES 2016 is taking place in Las Vegas -- once again, bigger and louder than ever. Companies must find a way to stand out and be heard. That means they must win over the technology analyst community, the media and investors, as well as customers.

As an industry analyst, I get hundreds of requests from companies that want to get on my radar. The noise can be deafening! That's the point. Many companies realize they must get the right message to the analyst community, but they forget they're competing with other companies trying to do the same thing. How do companies get heard?

The Biggest Mistake

The biggest mistake most companies make is thinking every industry analyst business model is the same. In reality, there are many different business models. In order to be successful with the analyst community, a company must understand how key analysts work -- that is, what they focus on, how they share their opinions, and how they earn income.

Then the company must adjust its approach to each analyst accordingly. If it wants good coverage, it should make it easier -- not harder -- for analysts to follow it. The companies that clear the path often will get better results -- and isn't that the goal?

The Importance of Analysts

Technology analysts are important because others value their research and opinions. Analysts spend their time studying industry players and products. They investigate the changes that are reshaping the industry and track the changes that are reshaping the competition.

Investors, customers, workers, partners -- and of course, the media -- respond to analyst opinions about companies, technologies, industry direction, innovation and so on. They're guided by analyst observations on who is leading, who is following, who is winning and losing -- and why.

The media is one important channel for analysts to spread their influence. So are reports, speeches and conferences. However, each analyst is different. Each focuses on a specific group of companies or industries. Analysts share their opinions in different ways. Understanding the differences among analysts is key.

Take me, for example. As an industry analyst, I give media interviews on a daily basis, write columns, speak at meetings and conferences, conduct research, write reports, and so on.

Now multiply what I do by all the key analysts who are important to a company's business. Multiply that by hundreds more general analysts, and it's clear how important it is to have a great analyst relations program.

Best Analyst Briefings

I have participated in more briefings than I can count in the last few decades. In my opinion, the best in-depth briefings are not at shows like CES or CTIA. Rather, the best briefings are individual meetings -- when companies fly me in to visit them in person, or at least start with a personal phone call and private briefing.

Companies that focus on quality rather than numbers typically are ahead of the game from the start. However, companies simply don't have the resources to get close to hundreds or thousands of analysts. They must split the analyst community into groups.

Quality Relationships

The smallest group consists of key analysts who have the greatest impact on a company's sector. They are obviously the most important to the company. A good relationship with that small group is key. They often have different business models, though, so it's important to understand what they cover, how they share their thoughts, how they earn income and so on.

General analysts make up a much larger group. While it is very important for a company to be successful with them as well, the relationships are different -- more general and high level.

When companies rely solely on shows like CES or CTIA to get close to the analyst community, they more often than not miss. Companies that have successful industry analyst programs at these shows likely have robust, year-round programs, and the shows are just one piece of the puzzle.

In my book, the important thing to understand is that it's not the individual briefing at a show that matters. Rather, it's the long-term relationship that's built over time that matters the most. From the company's perspective, I think that's where the real value enters the picture.

What Companies Do Right - and Wrong

I've attended countless briefings over the years, which has given me a valuable perspective on what companies do right and wrong. In my view, only a few companies do a great job. Most want to, but they simply don't know how. Many fail to connect and build strong, long-term relationships. Many simply don't understand the basics.

A strong, positive result with an industry analyst requires more than a quick slam dance and thank you ma'am. The one-night-stand approach doesn't work. It takes time to build a good long-term relationship with each key analyst, based on an understanding of the way each analyst works.

Companies can learn from those that do the best job with analyst relations. The best approach each analyst differently, and when they're on target, they win. Now excuse me -- I have another briefing on the other side of town! Taxi!


E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a wireless analyst, telecom analyst, industry analyst, consultant and speaker who has been sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry for 25 years. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com.


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