Expert Advice


Connecting With Key Influencers in the Industry Analyst Community

If presenting to the technology industry analyst community is so important, why do most companies do such a poor job?

I have participated in more analyst briefings over the last 25 years than I can remember. Companies all want the same positive result, but they all go about it very differently. Only a very few are well done and get good results. So what is the path to success?

My Pick of the Week is the brand new Nokia Lumia 928 on Verizon and Lumia 925 on T-Mobile. How do these compare to the original Lumia 920 on AT&T?

The Analyst’s Model

With the CTIA 2013 wireless show coming next week, this is a good time to consider how companies can get the biggest bang for their buck when dealing with the analyst community.

First, it’s important to set some specific goals. Most companies want every analyst to know about them and talk about them in glowing terms. The only problem is few understand how to get that result.

To be successful, a company must turn the entire process around. It must understand each analyst individually. How? Come at it from the analyst’s perspective. Every analyst is different. If you line up 10 analysts, you will have 10 different business models, following 10 different areas, and getting their opinions out in 10 different ways.

It’s important to understand the analyst’s business model. Understand what each analyst does for a living. Some work for larger firms and get paid a salary for the work they provide. Larger firms have different people doing different things. The firm collects fees from companies for a variety of services.

Other analysts are either individual or work for smaller practices. In those cases, the analyst is often chief cook and bottle washer responsible for providing services to clients, disseminating information to the marketplace and collecting fees.

Movers and Shakers

The term “industry analyst” is a general term that suggests many different categories. It’s important not only to understand what area each analyst specializes in, but also the way each does business.

Since there are too many analysts in each industry for a company to have a good relationship with each, it’s a good idea to break the analyst community into two parts. Companies should appeal to the larger analyst community, while at the same time forming relationships with key analysts in their sector — those who are best known, regularly quoted, and who frequently write about their industry’s competition and trends.

Companies should host an occasional general analyst meeting to reach all analysts. They are often helpful to bring the entire community up to speed with the same information at the same time. After the general briefing, private briefings can be held. They are still part of the larger chaos of an analyst meeting but are a great way to connect.

Separately, it is vital for a company to have excellent communications with the key analysts who follow it on a regular basis — the analysts who can help or hurt its efforts, since they are regularly quoted by the media, write columns, release statements, publish reports, give speeches and so on.

These are the movers and shakers. They can shape opinion. I have learned this small group is key, because often what the marketplace thinks about a company begins with what these key people think, say and write.

The Meeting Game

To recap, there are three important ways to interact with the analyst community:

  1. Host a general meeting for a large group of analysts — dozens or even hundreds assembled in the same room. Remember, however, everyone looks for different things, so each may be interested only in a particular slice of what you have to say.
  2. Conduct individual briefings with analysts flown into the headquarters for a few hours to meet one-on-one with senior executives that cover the areas they follow. Smaller briefings for key analysts often are held at higher-quality spots like Las Vegas or Palm Beach.

    Don’t waste time. Analysts travel too much and attend too many meetings. So provide meetings of interest and value. Ask whom the analysts would like to meet with and what areas they want to focus on. Make sure they get good value out of the trip. These one-on-one meetings can be most valuable, as long as they are part of a longer-term relationship.

  3. Hold briefings at trade shows like the upcoming CTIA 2013 in Las Vegas. Now what I am about to say goes against the groove most companies are in. Most, unfortunately, host meetings as though the analysts are on a conveyor belt — saying the same thing to one after the other, and not really closing the gap with the analyst.

    This is a reflection of the theory that if you throw enough stuff at the wall, something will stick. However, the results are generally a waste of time for the company and the analysts — and a time-waster is not how any company wants to be perceived.

A Better Way

There is a more respectful way of doing things that typically has a much better result. As an analyst, I have little interest in attending dozens of briefings with strangers. I prefer personal invitations from company executives who really want to meet with me.

I’m happy to meet with those who want to start a relationship leading to my following their companies over the long term. The first meeting should simply be a way to get to know one other. The company learns how the analyst works, and the analyst considers whether to follow the company. After this first meeting, if both want to move to the next step, then a second meeting can be set up to flesh out the details.

However, I receive countless invitations for briefings from public relations people who are strangers to me, who are hired to fill the calendar of their clients, and that’s where there interest ends. There is no relationship of any kind with the executive or the company. I see little value there. The real value comes in building long-term relationships.

Note, I did not say the analyst community in general — the general analyst community is a good starting point. However, a company must make sure it has good quality relationships with the key analysts who follow it.

For one reason or another, analysts’ opinions often matter to the marketplace of consumers, business customers, investors and workers, so it’s important to be successful dealing with this community at large, as well as with every key analyst in the space.

When a company reaches out to key individual analysts, it will achieve a much higher level of success in reaching its goals — and isn’t that what every company wants from the analyst community in the first place?

Jeff Kagan

E-Commerce Times columnist Jeff Kagan is a technology industry analyst and consultant who enjoys sharing his colorful perspectives on the changing industry he's been watching for 25 years. Email him at [email protected].

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