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Briefing Analysts

Industry analysts are a critical part of any influencer campaign – and one of the toughest parts to get right. When thinking about how to influence an analyst, many marketers and communicators mistakenly believe that everything starts with the analyst briefing. “We have to brief the analysts before we launch!” is often heard. My perspective is that the analyst briefing is actually one of the LAST things you want to be doing with an analyst. Indeed, the vast majority of your analyst activities should actually lead up to the analyst briefing.

Regardless of when you do brief the analysts, you want to get it right. Analysts listen to hundreds of briefings a year – some exciting but most, well, let’s just say most are somewhat less than exciting. Think PowerPoint slide after PowerPoint slide with lots of text and a one way discussion. The only person not asleep is the actual presenter! To stand out you want to be crisp, compelling and conversational. You do not want to do a one way core dump all about your product.

There are a lot of excellent articles and posts on how to do an analyst briefing which I will be highlighting in this blog. This week Hank Barnes of Gartner published an excellent post on ‘The Art of the Analyst Briefing (How to Engage and Reduce Skepticism). Hank details the challenges of briefing analysts and presents a 4 step approach, which is:

  • Step 1 – Align Goals for the briefing
  • Step 2 – Tell a Story
  • Step 3 – Optimize the Materials
  • Step 4 – Test for Authenticity

It is an excellent read – please let me know what you think!

A New Brand of Marketing

One of the leading thought leaders on the new world of marketing is Scott Brinker who edits the Chiefmartec.com blog. He recently published an excellent e-book: ‘A New Brand of Marketing’, the 7 Meta-Trends of Modern Marketing as a Technology-Powered Discipline. Packed into its 40 pages are insights into what Scott refers to as the key meta-trends that are impacting modern marketing. Scott defines meta-trends as deep, long cycle trends that last years rather than just months. At the heart of each tech is the role of technology and the impact that technology is having on marketing as well as the customer’s buying cycle.

new_brand_marketing_download

The 7 meta-trends are detail the shifts that are occurring today including the shifts from traditional media to digital; from media silos to converged media; from outbound marketing to inbound marketing; from communications to experiences; from art and copy to code and data; from rigid plans to agile iterations and from agencies to in-house marketing.

In future posts I will explore each of these trends in more detail and, when possible, map them back to the role of influencers. In the meantime, do yourself a favor and download this excellent e-book.

Hatching Twitter

With an estimated 645 million – and growing – number of registered users, Twitter is disrupting how we communicate, learn and influence. In eight short years, Twitter has rapidly achieved a global reach and ability to influence far beyond what most of us would have imagined even several years ago let alone in the early days.

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) is an insightful and educational look behind the scenes of the early days of Twitter. From Twitter’s birth as part of Odeo, a struggling podcasting company, to its ‘pivot’ into what became Twitter, the book provides a fascinating look into Twitter’s founders, their relationships and  Twitter’s emergence into one of the hottest technology firms in the world.

Unlike some startup books which focus on the business aspects, Hatching Twitter provides a unique perspective on the founder’s personalities, relationships, organizational dynamics and the massive struggle of leading a company experiencing explosive growth. As with many low budget startups, the early days proved to be a significant challenge. The biggest challenges, however, came after the firm received venture funding and was undergoing leadership and executive changes.

From a product and technology perspective, site performance was one of Twitter’s early and most significant challenges. As often happens with firms that are forced to scale beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, performance and availability were a daunting undertaking. And that clearly was one of the very difficult challenges that the Twitter development and operations teams had to address. Hatching Twitter highlights these challenges and the steps the team took to overcoming them.

Twitter’s corporate communications strategy, who should be the public face of Twitter and what was the message the firm wanted to deliver was also a huge problem. The dynamics between the founders and the communications challenges that resulted are explored in detail. As Twitter exploding onto the scene virtually every media outlet worldwide wanted a piece of the Twitter story. This part of the book is an excellent look into the challenges that any communications professional would have managing what was clearly an immensely difficult situation.

As we all know, Twitter had a very successful IPO and the company is positioned to have a tremendous impact going forward. If you are involved in social media or just enjoy getting an inside view on the ‘hatching’ of what is positioned to be significant company, Hatching Twitter is a must read and I highly recommend it.

True Story – How to Combine Story and Actions to Transform your Business

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True Story was published in mid 2013 and is an excellent book on that addresses a timely subject. Authored by Ty Montague, the outlines the growing importance of ‘story-telling’ and the recent trend toward ‘story-doing’. His first, and one of the most compelling case studies, is Red Bull and the excellent job that Red Bull has done communicating its corporate brand. Indeed, it actually takes some looking around on Red Bull’s home page to actually find content on its products. Instead, the site is focused on the various exciting adventure sports that are part of the Red Bull world.

The heart of the book is addressing what Ty calls an organization’s ‘Metastory’ and its four cornerstones:

Participants – Who we are for
Protagonist – Our story today
Stage – The world we are doing business in
Quest – Our driving ambition and contribution to the world

As Ty states, in storydoing the metastory defines and drives all the actions a company takes.

There is a great deal of excellent content in True Story which I will highlight and share. It is an excellent read and highly recommended for both communications and business people.

The Ultimate Moment of Truth

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Brian Solis is one of the foremost thinkers on marketing and communications – you can read his posts on the excellent www.briansolis.com. His recent post on ‘The Ultimate Moment of Truth and the Art of Digital Engagement’ extends Google’s Zero Moment of Truth concept to include what he refers to as ‘Shared Experiences’. The Ultimate Moment of Truth is ‘that moment where people who convert an experience into discoverable content in any one of the countless social platforms people use to stay connected these days’. Brian has included an excellent graphic that communicates this point.

For marketing teams, having customers talk about and share positive experiences about a brand – either a product or a service – is the ‘ultimate’ objective. Often it happens by itself – consumers simply have a positive experience and share on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Of course, those consumers who have a negative experience can do the same.

The challenge for marketers is twofold – encouraging those who are inclined to share and nurturing those who might not have thought of sharing. Enabling and promoting positive sharing by consumers who might not have shared their experiences is helped if there are programs to encourage it. Building programs that encourages and promotes ‘positive sharing’ can have a huge impact in terms of customer loyalty and lower cost of customer acquisition.

The post includes a link to a free paper and interview developed with the Google ZMOT team, “Give Them Something to Talk About: Brian Solis on the Art of Engagement.” Well worth a read.

Conversations that Win the Complex Sale

Over the past several years a great deal has been written about the complex sale – the challenging B2B sale involving multiple decision makers and requiring significant investments to solve a problem that the prospect may, in fact, not yet realize that they have. Jeff Thull’s outstanding book ‘Mastering the Complex Sale’ has certainly led the industry in addressing this challenge as has Keith Eades’s ‘The New Solution Selling’ book.

A new addition to this body of knowledge is the excellent ‘Conversations That Win the Complex Sale’ by Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer. Britton Manasco, who runs the ‘Illuminating the Future’ blog, highlighted this book in a recent post – check out ‘What it Takes to Win the Complex Sale. The blog post impressed me enough that I headed off to the local Barnes & Noble the night before a business trip to Asia to purchase a copy.

Written by the team at Corporate Visions, Inc., Conversations addresses the critical and timely issue of messaging from the perspective of the customer which ultimately helps close more deals. The premise is that marketing campaigns and sales teams are frequently delivering a message that prospects just don’t hear. To reach prospects and to create more opportunities both marketers and sellers need to get their attention by first bringing bad news to prospects to provoke them into listening to our story. Why bad news? Because many customer are fine with the status quo and are not actively engaged in a problem solving cycle let alone a buying cycle. Conversations tells us that to get our prospects into a buying cycle we need to provide them with fresh insight on the problems they face, what the implications and cost of those problems are and to provide guidance on how they can do business better.

This book also addresses the issue of delivering and communicating a compelling story that is about and important to the customer, not about our products. All too often, marketing and sales delivers messages that are about themselves and their product rather than the customer’s situation, problems and how the customer can address those problems.
I have just touched on a part of this book – I’ll post more shortly. The bottom line is that if you are in B2B marketing or sales for complex solutions do yourself a favor and read this book!