The Analyst Relations job is all about influencing the influencers. Not all influencers are analysts, but, as consummate AR pros, we need to determine non-analysts that are influencing our buyers, and we need to consider how to manage them.
Frequently, that means partnering with others in our organization. PR, for example, may own the direct responsibility for managing journalists, but we need to coordinate their approach and messaging with our AR efforts
In my experience, organizations don’t develop an overall strategy to manage all these relationships. Departments don’t coordinate their efforts or sync their messaging. Influencers aren’t rated and managed according to the size of their influence. Important voices in the marketplace are often overlooked. And here’s where I really cringe: There is no overall plan at all.
Someone has to take the bull by the horns. That typically means me, but, as long as you’ve read this far, maybe it can be you.
The first step in the process is to identify those who influence your market. List every name you find. Don’t think. Don’t edit. Take names. Ask around. Ask Sales. Ask customers. Ask partners. Ask the janitor. Search the web. Look under your desk. Collect names first, analyze later.
Now, wasn’t that fun and easy? Here comes the hard part, deciding how to manage each individual on your list. To figure that out, first take a deep breath and a sip of black coffee. Then determine what kind of information and relationship each needs.
Some need a deep dive, while others only want a high-level overview. Some want to build a relationship, while others only want to hear from you periodically or when you have real news.
Here’s a broad look at how to categorize and treat them:
Journalists are easy - PR has them. Journalists need news and high level information. Give them "the scoop.”
Bloggers and other pundits - They are out there writing and talking about your space, but assign each individual to another group. Maybe they’re more of a journalist? More like an analyst? A consultant? I reassign each one and treat them accordingly.
Partners. Pretty much every organization I’ve worked with has a partner manager who takes care of them.
Consultants. These come in all shapes and sizes, but they are working with the same buyers you are and can be extremely influential. Some are more like partners, some fall more into the analyst group. Manage each one with that in mind.
Academics. No two academics are alike. If your technology and vision is strong and differentiating, they will be interested. In my experience, the CEO or strategy group handles these relationships best (if anyone tends to them at all).
Customers. Your best customers can be your biggest influencers with prospects. Most companies have Customer Marketing, with programs that identify great customers and reward them for advocating for your brand.
Associations. Industry or technology groups can be filled with prospective buyers, but, alas, this category is often unmanaged. Find somebody. It could be the Partner manager, Customer Marketing, or Product Marketing. But don’t ignore the relevant associations in your industry. Someone has to build relationships to reap the benefits.
The industry analyst community itself has plenty to say about treating individuals according to their category. For example, Robin Bloor of Bloor Research describes the difference between analysts and journalists, emphasizing that if analysts are treated like journalists, they get irritated. In my book, Analysts on Analyst Relations, he explains how unfocused press releases and outreach can be detrimental to a relationship and that analysts hate the brand-building activities that are at the heart of PR.
Dealing with analysts is tough enough, but I won’t apologize for heaping other influencers onto your already-large pile of responsibilities. Strategic AR always keeps an eye on the entire company and its overall mission. We never narrow our vision to our own desk and our own immediate tasks. Prioritizing and planning keeps us focused and productive, while our skills and experience in relationships make us powerful and valuable outside our particular AR niche.
Would love to hear your experience!.