Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Please note my blog has now moved to thanks for your interest.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The 'ethical pitch'

Don't panic this is not a post about sustainability or recycling etc but rather on some of my musings on pitch ethics based on personal experience. Having been a consultant for the last seven and a half years I rarely find myself in straight pitch situations, I have found myself on the selection panel a fair few times or reviewing proposals for work as well, so not sure if I am the best man to comment, but here goes.

I know you have heard this before but people buy people, never mind the tender, brief, or scope of work required, it comes down to a simple match, can you do what is asked? And for that matter is this a client/company/person you wish to work with? There have been numerous times when I have asked myself that question and in some instances walked away from the business.

Then there is the question about what about my existing clients and if we take on the work will they be compromised in any way. I have had a number of situations where there were great revenue opportunities for me but in the back of my mind I knew that the risk of conflict of interest was great and again walked away. Why? It has to feel right or else it won’t work.

Then there is the trust issue - either it is there- or lets pack up and go home. Some like the focus of payment by results, I have not explicitly worked in that way, but I make sure people know what they are getting and if not why, as there may well be issues that the client overlooked that my significantly hinder generating results.

One other point is reputation, what goes around comes around and in my view ultimately the truth will out. It is the backdrop to any new business situation, it will get you to the pitch table and in some instances will protect you if the presentation performance is not what it should or could have been.

While all of the hygiene factors are important for a pitch - answering the brief, good presentation style, good listening/people skills etc... Ultimately it’s a people thing as after all business is done for people by people. Now back to that proposal.....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In this game the customer is king...

Feel the need to post about a customer event on Monday I organised and attended, the third customer event I have been involved with since working with this vendor and each one has been very, very different. The format is very simple - let the customer do the talking and the analysts will take the discussion where they wish. Keep the vendor content to a minimum - there are other opps elsewhere for this.

What was great was a very diverse analyst audience and a customer that stimulated debate about issues that at the outset you would never have imaged would be discussed.

The take home, running any analyst customer event is in my view as good as it gets.
Meeting the AM call

I had a meeting with an account manager and two key members of the marketing team today (wow big news;-)). The objective simple - lets meet, let's chat and let's see if there is anything we can do. No need for huge detail but one thing struck me. Its always good to meet with an account manager as you can learn LOADS about the firm, as much about the culture of the company as about what is on offer.

I have posted before about the balance between commercial relationships and pure and simple AR comms, but one thing that never ceases to intrigue me is how an AM 'sells' the analyst firm and how the customer or potential customer buys or what they are looking for.

Guess its time to write up the follow up action list....

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Spot the difference - Recession proof AR??

OK another post on recession proof AR, actually the post stems from a question I was asked a few weeks ago: There are a fair few AR Pros being laid off and as a result they have gone freelance. How do you remain competitive?

My gut answer was - 'I just do the best I can' a fairly simplistic answer I know but I am fairly simplistic. As I see it no one knows what the future holds so having been caught in the IT slump of 2000 - 2002 and having worked as an independent consultant for some seven years the key things I have learnt is: you have to deliver value, ALL the time, there is NO room for downtime and FOCUS is the key. Either you deliver what is asked for or you don't deliver at all.

The fact is, it shouldn't matter if we are in a recession or not, as a consultant you have to deliver value, focus on what's being asked and never, never get complacent.

I know its obvious but in a recession there is less business and more competition, the truth is there will always be competition, what makes one AR provider better than another? There will be personal taste, methodology, price (yes price) but in my view value and quality will out.

Sounds obvious but in uncertain times, certainty helps.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

No sweat???

Here's piece I wrote for my local CIM branch:

No names needed

Monday, November 17, 2008

Calling in the auditors??

Calm down, I may be married to an accountant but this is not a piece about anything accountancy related!

I have recently been involved in overseeing a couple of analyst perception audits and while in the past I have been happy to go with direct perceptions and details of analyst output. Things have changed.

One of the audits was based on classic parameters and confirmed our original hunches, it also served the purposes of what the client wanted perfectly well. The second was much broader and featured several 'AR 2.0' elements (twee phrase but for purpose of this post it works). The results were much richer than what I had found in the past.

Aside from the issue of infleuncer relations there are more tools that are being used today by analysts that make tracking perception more complex than before, rather than ignore the output, integrate it into the mix or you run the risk of of having an outdated AR strategy.
Playing the numbers game?

I was on a vendor briefing call last week, the aim of the call how to get the most out of the analyst firm as an AR professional. All good and interesting stuff.

When it came to the Q&A bit, I thought time to ask a question and kick things off. The question:

How many end users do your analysts talk to?

In an open forum you get an open response. We have xx thousand clients which mean yy thousand customers. Each analyst speaks to x hundred end users over the year.

A good stat when asked how influential are analysts.

Thinking through this and other conversations I have had with other AR professionals, THE key thing I have always based my AR work on is the extent of influence. The raison d'etre (apologies for poor spelling) for working with analysts is to develop relationships that benefit the business on multiple levels (no I won't expound on this at length - contact me off line and I will be happy to do so). In a non-tech non business environment I explain AR as influencing people that influence customer purchasing decisions.

There are times when having a quantitative approach really helps. (tangentially this in my view explains the power/allure of all things online - I can track it, I can measure it, I can build a business case for it, I can secure budget for it). This kind of data helps BUT it does not provide the full picture, because an analyst 'touches' xx thousand people does NOT mean all of those people will make a purchasing decision based solely on their advice/opinion.

So in short playing the numbers can work some of the time. But DON'T base your entire strategy on it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rl8shp sqz

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday who I want to invite round for lunch. The gist:

My wife has tried calling your wife three times and no answer!

Ah you'd better text her, she sends around 4000 texts a month.

Within three minutes we had a date in the diary - excellent, but why blog about it??

My wife commented - I don't like texting if I had a call with her it would have been so much nicer.

This got me thinking we have voice, email, Twitter (and other tools) txting and face-to-face all of which support relationships. But each tool comes with parameters and uses, the trick is to use them all in the right way.

For marketing this could not be more prescient. I don't text an analyst a briefing request, but I would a stand location at show where we are meeting. I don't email sensitive comments I'd pass that on in person or over the phone.

Ultimately the need to nurture relationships to grow a business are the same as ever but the plethora of tools is greater than ever, the challenge is to match the right tools to the right people for the right uses.

Now how the hell do I use predictive txting!
Forget me not....

No this is not about Remembrance day or Armistice day at all, but something that I felt was worth posting.

I have organised a few analyst events recently with different clients, a webinar, a customer event and have been doing some business development (haven't we all).

I read about blogs, social networking, Web 2.0 etc... but one thing that always strikes me is that when all is said and done it's all about relationships. Be it AR or any form of marketing. While we may have the tools to broadcast our views to the masses etc. The power of the direct relationship should never be ignored. Chances are that given the current (economic) climate this has never been more relevant than ever.

Yup, this is obvious but sometimes the obvious needs to be restated.