Analyst Relations: The “R” is for Relationship

Clients frequently ask our opinion on analyst relations. Which firms do we recommend? Who are the top analysts in a particular space? How often should they brief with analysts? Should they become paying clients?

We can’t answer all these questions in a short blog post. But we’ve been fortunate to work with a number of clients that understand the value of analyst relations, and in the process, we’ve seen what works – and what doesn’t – in analyst relations.

Here are several principles that Ketner Group stresses to our clients. We use these as some of our guidelines in helping our clients develop appropriate analyst relations programs.

Remember, it’s a relationship. Analyst relations are first and foremost about building relationships – and like any relationship, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. Relationships between analysts and technology vendors are mutually beneficial. Analysts need to know about the key vendors in the spaces that they cover, and vendors, in turn, depend upon the analysts to help get the word out to the market. But like all relationships, analyst relations take time and nurturing.

Know the analysts and leverage their strengths. It’s essential for vendors to develop relationships with the leading analysts that cover their technology – not only to be included in key reports but also because large enterprises often turn to retailers to get their advice when they’re considering a major technology initiative. Analysts can be especially valuable as strategic partners, offering insight on product direction and positioning, the competitive landscape, possible partners or acquisition targets, and messaging.

However, to “go deep” with analysts, vendors will need to develop paying relationships. And if your company is considering that, you’ll want to carefully consider everything that entails (which leads to our next point).

Be realistic about the commitments. Becoming a paying client of the right analyst firm can pay for itself many times over, if vendors are willing to commit time and resources. However, that leads squarely back to the first point – you’ll get out of it what you put into it. Are you willing to do regular briefings, talk honestly about the challenges your company faces, accept tough feedback, and invest in periodic analyst days, so your top analysts really know your technology and direction? Are your key executives willing to commit their time and energy to nurturing key analyst relationships? Continue reading

NRF 2012: What You Can Do Now to Get Ready

June is a busy trade show month for retail, with Oracle’s CrossTalk, the Retail Mobile Executive Summit, and the RIS Retail Executive Summit, among others. And even though it seems an eternity from now, we’re inching ever closer to the most important annual event in retail technology: NRF 2012, the 101st edition of the National Retail Federation’s Big Show.

I was reminded of this several weeks ago while our team worked on NRF speaking submissions for several of our clients. Admittedly, it’s not time to hit the panic button; after all, NRF is still seven months away.However, it’s a reminder to everyone in retail tech that even while we’re enjoying the slightly less hectic pace of summer, it will be time to hit the ground running in September. In preparation for that, we’re working with our retail tech clients to start planning now for the all-important months leading up to NRF, when vendors turn up the heat on their PR and marketing campaigns to lay the groundwork for a successful show.

After all, as anyone who has ever exhibited at NRF or another huge trade show knows, it can be unnerving that the hefty investment and months of planning that it takes to prepare for the show ultimately culminate in just a few short days. During and afterward, the questions are constantly on your mind: Did we do it right this year? Did we do everything we could to make the work and investment worth it?

We know it’s a lot of pressure, and since we’ve worked for years with our clients to prepare for NRF, we’ve seen a lot of what works great and what doesn’t work so well. So what can you be doing in the months between now and NRF? Here are a couple of building blocks that can help you work toward success in January. (And if you’re not going to NRF, keep reading, because these same principles apply across many different verticals and industry events.)

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