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No Time Wasters Please: On briefing industry analysts

Last week I had lunch with a UK IT services company that has a relatively low profile but lots of happy clients. So far so good.
 
The lunch was OK but something bothered me about the chief executive officer I was meeting with. He kept asking me more and more questions about my business, rather than pitching his own. I was there to find out more about the company’s role in UK public sector IT and shared services.
 
However when he kept pumping me for information I assumed that he had comparatively little experience of dealing with analysts, and wanted to know more about the business, and its ins and outs. This often happens. Aha – an executive on a fact-finding mission. Not ideal, perhaps, but we can live with that.
 
The real problem is, I came away knowing little more about his business than I arrived with.
 
Anyone that knows me or has worked with me will tell you that I am interested in most things. I am genuinely interested in knowing more about technology and markets. Its why I do what I do-because I love to learn and put things into context. You actually have to work at it to not educate me. You can say the same for most analysts. We are seekers of knowledge. 
 
So imagine my surprise when I called the PR company that had brokered the lunch, and asked my contact there about the meeting, saying I didn’t really get as much information as I expected.
 
After first saying the client had been really busy over Christmas, and so wasn’t ready to make a pitch (how can the CEO not be in a position to pitch his business?), the shoe dropped in earnest.
 
The AR rep said the COO felt I spent too much time selling RedMonk.
 
I have to admit that got my blood up.
 
I had given the guy multiple launch points for a discussion of his business: public sector and shared services, Microsoft technology implementation and management, business process outsourcing and so on, some history about the company even… And he just asked how RedMonk publicised its blogs…
 
Anyone that knows me will also say that when it comes to blogs and blogging I am like the energiser bunny. Its knowledge I love to share. But its hard to talk about blogging without making it somewhat personal. Salespitch or passion – I guess they are intermingled.
 
What finally really got me this afternoon was the moment when the AR person asked if she could fill me in on her client in 15 minutes or so, if I felt I didn’t learn enough last week. And there was me thinking that was what the hour and a half meeting was for…
 
Anyhow here is some advice for better briefings:
 
1. Make sure your executive knows what industry analysts do so you don’t waste time discussing it at the outset of the meeting. Focus on the industry generally and the specific analyst company.
 
1a. If the executive is briefing RedMonk its a good idea to get them to read one or two of our blogs, so they can get a good sense of who we are.
 
2. If you have not briefed the analyst before then its good to start with a history of your company, and your own background. How did you get to where you are? If we can understand that we can get a better sense of where you are going.
 
3. Be ready for the jerry bruckheimer moment – when you get a chance to pitch your storyboard. Imagine that you are in Hollywood with a script in your hand and just stepped into an elevator with a big shot studio producer. The analyst wants a nice easy way to contextualise who are and what you do.
 
4. Be prepared to play “the bucket game”. Any product or “solution” can be related to existing industry product sectors. If a particular analyst firm or individual has a way of carving the market up, then play the game. Understand similarities and differences. Without competition its not a market, its a science experiment. Last week I had a really superb briefing with DiskSites. What made the briefing so good was that the CEO, Amir Shaked, didn’t just put his firm into context with other players in direct and orthogonal markets, but he also didn’t just dismiss competitors out of hand: where they deserved credit he gave it. That way credibility lies.
 
 
 
 

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5 Responses

  1. Thanks for the advice James, but now we want names…

    See http://armadgeddon.blogspot.com/2006/01/monkchips-no-time-wasters-please-on.html for more comments.

  2. James, thanks for including the tips as well as just complaining! But like Aronaut, tell us who it was!

  3. For sound advice on what to do and what not to do, a/r folks should read this, then read it again, then read it a month later. P/R should not be contacting analyst’s unless they understand how it works, two different audiences. James makes more than valid point(s) here. Note to company in question, working with James is not that tough, even when he’s tough on you….you couldn’t have tried to screw up more even with a planning committee.

  4. thanks john, i really appreciate your kind words.

    as for duncan and david – you know that analysts, even open source ones, need to keep *some* secrets.

    as Stephen O’Grady would ask: What value did you get out of that, exactly? i am happy to make this a generic rant.

  5. Thanks for the tips James. No pop quiz for the analysts, got it:P



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