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more complex than before, rather than ignore the output, integrate it into the mix or you run the risk of of having an outdated AR strategy.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.