What an Effective Analyst Briefing is Like

The other day, I moaned on twitter how many vendors are missing the opportunity during their briefing with an analyst, someone asked me to write up what success looks like, so I’m creating this helpful guide.

Understand the analysts’ coverage area
Analysts get briefed by vendors very frequently, I get briefed a couple of times a week, (yesterday I had 3). It’s important for the analyst to know the vendors in their space, what they are working on, what’s coming, and what challenges the industry is having. My coverage area is around online communities, which include vendors that are social networking sites, widgets, some micromedia, and a little bit of measurement.

You need to stand out in the marketplace
It’s very, very challenging as there are over 60 vendors in the white label space, and hundreds in the public social network space. I briefly discuss what is likely to happen to this industry in this article. Fortunately, I’m not the only one in this coverage space, I share it with Charlene Li, Peter Kim, Oliver Young on the enterprise side, and others who are involved in the research and report phase. Why should you care? Because the marketplace is so large an varied, you really need to stand out in the eyes of the analyst.

Where many vendors go wrong: too high or too low
It’s a real challenge for companies to identify what they are, and having a seasoned marketer on board really helps. You could risk going too high, and be filled with: Marketese, Hyperbole, Mission Statements, and bunch of buzz words, or too low and focus on technology alone, without providing business context. For many startups, there a bunch of technologists that may not have business skills, it’s time to invest in someone who understands communication, presentation, marketing, business development and the marketplace.

What a great briefing looks like: In the middle
It’s rare that a vendor can deliver such a succinct, resonating presentation in under and hour, and I think this is a good model for others to follow:

Yesterday, I experienced one of the best briefings, a vendor was very professional in their communication, messaging, presentation and demo. She started off with a clear message on what the company does, quickly differentiated how her company was different than the other 60, showed how her products and service brought value to customers (without little marketese or hyperbole) showed the major product suites, gave a case study starting with objectives, challenges and measurable results, summarized then passed to the demo. The product manager then showed me a live demo, cruised some of the major features, and showed a live use case, rather than just poking around at the interface. They were forth coming as I asked where to they think customers feel they need improvement.

What to do in a briefing
Colleague Charlene has provided a helpful guide on how to have a successful briefing with her. She lists out some specific questions she wants to see in every briefing, I’d add:

-Leave the marketing hyperbole at home
-Bring a case study with client objectives and measurable results
-Be forth coming in your areas that need improvement
-Don’t do all the talking, ask questions of the analyst
-Tell us where you’re going next, what are the plans
-Read Charlene’s post (link above for other must dos)

These aren’t just good skills to have for analyst briefings, but they are also key in customer communications, investor relations, and media relations.

Additional Resources
The best way to get a briefing is not to email me, instead, follow Charlene’s advice and request go through the briefing central process. They’ll schedule, get the right analyst(s) and help you move forward. Also see my List of Resources, Profiles, Indexes, Blogs, Companies and Information for the Analyst Industry.

  • http://innonate.com/ Nate Westheimer

    Great points. Thanks.

  • http://www.BizTechTalk.com/ Dan Keldsen

    Jeremiah – nice summary (and anyone briefing me – please read! Wouldn’t hurt to be more familiar with the blogs of analysts either)…

    Re: “These aren’t just good skills to have for analyst briefings, but they are also key in customer communications, investor relations, and media relations.”

    Ah, pretty darn useful skills for many people in a BUYING organization too – IT people remembering to “sell” the benefit to the business, business managers trying to get budget from the CFO or others higher up, while selling/persuading IT to be part of the team that makes it happen, etc..

    Which is why I joke, but I’m dead serious (having lived the mental transition myself), that people need to be able to speak different “business languages” in order to successful get just about anything done.

    So “all business is sales” just as “all business is marketing,” “all business is technology,” “it’s all about strategic management” and “it’s all about the customers” (did I leave anything out?).

    In the end, it’s all related, which to tie this back to “social media” (and social networking – the literal “tie”)… this is why social media is a seriously powerful (and increasingly, critical) way to actually pull all of these conversations and perspectives together, in one place.

    Without something that serves as a platform/medium/container/chose your metaphor, these conversations are siloed off, and stand little chance of being combined (mashed up) into something that will trigger an action of any significance in most organizations.

    Quick brainstumper:
    Virality happens far more frequently OUTSIDE of organizations than inside (hence “top down” push to adopt ERP, etc.) – why?

    The irony of co-workers who know less about each other and their work than the “anonymous crowd” that orbits their organization. Let’s not forget about sociality WITHIN an organization, not just the outside->in impact. Long way to go on that front…

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    For what it’s worth, I know this post is being passed around a few PR firms, according to some tweets on Twitter. Good, I hope the bar is raised.

    I wanted to keep the focus on the main point of what a good briefing was like, but I’d like to call out that the experience is based off my meeting with Diane Pardee CMO of Selectminds and Steve Kuhn who runs the product side.

    Many companies have a product to take to market, but the ability to articulate it to influencers and prospects is a competitive edge, Great job.

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  • http://www.hfn-ar.de/viewpoints Marius Jost

    This is a wonderful,concise summary of what we experience day-to-day in Europe. I have mentioned you in my blog and hope this is all right for you.
    My best regards

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  • http://www.sagecircle.wordpress.com Carter Lusher

    Hi Jeremiah,

    Nice post. It is so useful when analysts speak up about AR best practices.

    I have started a link list to yours and other analysts’ AR tips in Tips from analysts about how to interact with them more effectively. Please drop me a line when you post additional tips for AR or if you know of other analysts’ posts on the topic. Thanks. –carter j

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  • http://comunicado.us Richard Fouts

    I find most software companies either develop an elevator pitch that requires a building with 21,000 floors, or they don’t develop one at all.

    As a communications professional my advice to vendors: Lead with your business story. Many vendors in this space think they need to spend 30 minutes educating me in the technology, but they do it at the expense of the business problem they solve.

    If vendors are losing me in this discussion, they are likely losing prospects and analysts. I’m not saying your technology story isn’t important – it is, but to the right type of buyer. But it needs to be told in a business context, especially since technical buyers are charged with “selling the business.”

  • http://www.getbriefed.net Serge

    Hi there

    I found this post of yours quite interesting and as a matter of fact, i have built the web 2.0 tool just for Briefings.

    I encourage you to try and see how it might be useful.
    GetBriefed.net

    Keep those point form briefings online is a must i think within small teams.

  • Christine Randle

    This is great! I was looking for some practical advice to use when building a briefing deck and this fit the bill. Thank you!

  • Christine Randle

    This is great! I was looking for some practical advice to use when building a briefing deck and this fit the bill. Thank you!

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  • http://twitter.com/socmedia365 Richard Brasser

    Sharing information like this Jeremiah is so important. It not only helps your own briefings be more on target but it helps the entrepreneurial community in general by outlining an efficient way to describe their company, position and key differentiators. Thank you for taking the time to communicate this advice.