Thursday, June 02, 2005

Skipping The Analyst Circuit

Sometimes a PR Guy gets tired of the rigamarole. You know this schtick: as part of the new product/company launch, the client is expected to kowtow to the analyst community; to approach with hat in hand, saying, in effect, "Would you please bless my company/product/service, that I may prosper?"

Most of our clients in the tech sector are B2B, enterprise software, etc. In these cases, the schtick is usually warranted. Many IT execs still check in with Gartner, Forrester, et al., before making a big purchase. But more and more of our clients, such as Shimano the huge bicycling components maker, and some wireless start-ups, etc., simply don't need any analyst input whatsoever.

One prospect we've been talking to is targeting the power-sellers on E-Bay. Most of our competitors on this business suggest he run the gamut of analyst firms. That's our usual inclination, but moreso out of habit than well-plotted strategy.

Luckily, this time around we were quick on our feet and cried out, "No! Wait! Stop the insanity! There's not a single E-Bay zealot out there who's waiting for an analysts' Word From On-High. We can safely skip the analyst circuit (and, yes, this means your retainer can be lower)!"

The truth is, even in the enterprise/B2B realm of IT sales, it's been our experience that the client community has less and less faith in the analysts. The analyst tour is now increasingly seen as a chore, rather than an opportunity to derive valuable feedback and approbation.

Maybe it's because there are fewer and fewer reputable analyst groups? Less competition can make folks sloppy and/or lazy and/or arrogant.

Maybe it's because the dominance of one particular analyst group (I won't name names, but, umm, their initials are GG) has led to the spawning of numerous highly-specialized boutique analyst firms? This fragmentation of the market lessens the impact of any one group, and, the tight specialization means that the niche analysts' biases are quickly calcified and well-known. I can't count how many times I've recently heard, "That guy knows the (fill-in the blank) industry but he's a champion/enemy of (fill-in name of industry Goliath) so it would be a waste to visit him..."

My point, as always, is to do what makes sense for the client. Don't automatically assume that to get from Point A to Point Z that you need to check-in with the analysts at Points B, K, P, and R.

Remember my mantra, "Reputation Drives Revenue"? That's just another way of saying "It's about Sales, stoopid."

Work backwards from the client's own sales prospect: who is this person, and what influences their purchase decisions? Do the media representatives who impact these purchasing decisions rely on the analysts? If not, why should we waste our time or the clients' time/money, eh?

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