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.