A Day In the Life of an Industry Analyst: Advisory Projects

I made a promise to be transparent with the mysterious industry analyst job, in fact, I didn’t completely understand all aspects of what the job entailed until being here for a few months. I realize that the public usually doesn’t understand the research industry business model, or how we help our clients make decisions. So in an attempt to explain what I do (read other posts tagged analyst to learn of other aspects) to understand one important part of my job: advisory.

Make Leaders Successful
Last week, I wrapped up another project with a technology client where we helped them develop a social media strategy based on actual research –a powerful way to ensure your efforts will be successful. Although Forrester has a consulting arm, I really consider our services as ‘advisory’ where we help clients understand the different choices they can make, make a decision based on research and data, and then suggest the appropriate course of action.

Project: Social Media Strategy
In this project, we helped a technology company enhance and expand their existing social media strategy. They had read the Groundswell book and understood the POST methodology, they understood how important it was know their customers before choosing social technologies. We kicked off with scoping discussions, understanding the needs of the business, and learned about their marketplace and customer base. Next, we then created a survey which was fielded to their market of influencers and decision makers where we asked questions about their: Demographics (who are they) Psychographics (what do they care about) Media Consumption (What do they read, and from where) and Technographics (how do they use social technologies.

Assembling the Team
Scientific surveys are a tricky beast, so we lean on our data experts like Cynthia Pflaum who helped to design, field, process and analyze the data from the survey. We have folks from traditional consulting backgrounds, and if you work with me you’ll likely meet consultant Nicole Belanger, who ensures we’re meeting the needs of the client, and we stay on target. My role as the subject matter expert is to make specific, make sense of the data, make specific recommendations, and provide a clear course of action for the client. To be quite honest, making recommendations becomes very easy once you have all the information in front of you –research is a very powerful tool.

Research Helps Reduces Risk and Increases Success
We had several meetings with the client, to share initial findings, discussion the different paths, and ended things off this past week with a presentation to the entire marketing team. Nothing pleases me more than to see the impacts I’m making with clients, in this case I learned that the client had already started with some of the newer recommendations based off the research. In some cases, clients are seeking clarification for their existing plans, so in addition to directional guidelines, we also help our clients with best practices (the report on community best practices, is very popular) and vendor selection, that’s why the upcoming Wave report on community platforms will really change buying behavior.

Full Circle: Client Feedback
Of course this story is incomplete, it doesn’t include the feedback from the client themselves! I know they are readers of this blog, so they’re welcome to review this project process in a transparent manner, either as a guest post, either anonymously or disclosed, or they don’t have to disclose at all. Perhaps more importantly, we’ll revisit their social media activities in a few months to track progress, I certainly hope the data and recommendations sets them up for success.

Fail Fast: I make mistakes too
In the spirit of transparency, things don’t always go well with clients, about once a quarter I stumble with a client engagement, or a client complains about my performance. I’ve learned where I’m challenged, such as: freaking out when I’m overwhelmed, making sure I’m prepared, checking my ego, and setting expectations with clients, I can’t say I’ve mastered all these, I’ve still got a lot to learn, but like everyone else, I stumble too. The key thing I’ve learned from making mistakes is to fail fast, and try to quickly get back up after licking my wounds. We all must grow.