For those of you who work for a technology firm, particularly you Marketing types, you will no doubt want to hold an “Analyst Day” to wow, dazzle and impress some influential types - like IT Research Analysts and the Enterprise Irregulars (disclosure - I'm an EI member). Do it right and you’ll get IT Research firms, bloggers and traditional media types to dedicate a lot of coverage (and hopefully a lot of positive buzz) towards your product lines. Do it wrong and you’ll get someone like me writing snarky things about it. Things like:
How NOT to Conduct an Analyst Day
When you plan one of these extravaganzas, you want to remember that:
- Analysts can be bought – Marketers think that if you give analysts enough freebies (e.g., USB sticks, notebook tablets, etc.) and hold the event in a cool place, then analysts will gladly write good things no matter how much your product resembles vaporware or how many users are suing you. Sure, everyone loves a nice locale but my opinion can’t be bought for a $2 trinket.
- Analysts aren’t bright – Think we can’t calculate your revenue/customer; revenue/channel partner; or, customers/channel partner, you’re wrong. Think we will forget that your latest dozen innovations were from acquired companies? Think we won’t notice that your entire management team has gone on to ‘pursue other options’ since the last briefing? We notice all these things and more.
- Analysts like cheesy stunts – My favorite of these was a request for analysts to complete a survey at the end of the day where the correct answers were already telegraphed for the attendees. Wow, if that's the kind of cutting edge, relevant research this firm does for its product development planning, no wonder they're in trouble.
- Analysts like really bad videos - Apparently a lot of Marketing types think they are the next Hollywood mega-producer. They spend a small fortune developing a one-time use bad piece of video that is supposed to highlight product capabilities in a humorous way. Guess what? It’s rarely humorous and it hurts to watch it. The only thing worse than this video is the reel of customer clips where client execs badly struggle to read your pre-scripted ‘ad-lib’ comments. Groan…. Hire my 14-year old and let him shoot some video of his friends trying to use your software. Now that would be funny!
- Your facts take on more credibility when they come from someone who graduated magna cum laude from cheerleader camp - Sure, any one can tell a story but you don’t need someone who’s clearly drank too much of the corporate Kool-Aid giving your pitch. Over zealous pitchmen are unintentionally obnoxious and impossible to believe. Every thing coming out of their mouth is over the top, hyperbole-ridden, oral spam. Dial down the hype and the use of statements like “We are the market leader” and shows us the audited details that prove that comment.
When an Analyst day feels like a church revival, it’s over the top and lost its effectiveness. When you ask Analysts to hold hands and sing the spiritual hymn “How Great Thou Are” as a tribute to the vendor sponsoring the event, you’ve lost your mind. It's at this moment that every blogger, analyst, etc. is looking online for the next flight out of town.
Analysts are hip to other vendor tricks like: - Creating an all new market segment that no one tracks or calculates and declare yourself as the holder of over 60% market share - Making a minor technical enhancement seem like a major product upgrade
When constructing a great Analyst day, Marketers know that they’ll need many other people to help turn this into an absolutely dismal day. What should Marketing do?
- Get the dullest channel partners in the world as speakers or panelists. Make sure the channel partner sends someone so boring that even your worst employee shines when standing next to them. Bonus points if you can get all of your panelists to speak in monotone! - Make sure panelists and customers only answer questions that are self-serving to the vendor. These are questions like: o What are you seeing the market uptake for our products? o What applications/modules are your customers/users asking for? o Which modules of ours did you install? o Which ones will you install later?
Better still, write out their answers for them and hand these to them on index cards prior to taking the stage. Oh, don’t forget to thank them for coming all the way across the world to speak these 16 words.
Lastly, make sure every speaker and every deck has an overused sports metaphor within it. Lately, every vendor wants to connect their quest for market dominance with the Olympics but how many vendors really deserve a gold medal? Not many. Let’s back off of the sports metaphors. They’re not original and they don’t always translate. Metaphors using golf, which some may argue isn’t a sport, aren’t always positive either.
Seriously, if you want to hold a great Analyst event, here are some absolute fundamentals:
- Get your televangelist to present. This is someone who speaks to what life after version 99 of your product is going to be like for your users/customers. Too many presenters are too focused on selling current functions and features. Analysts already know what your product’s capabilities and shortcomings are. What they want to know is where you are going.
- Start each day’s efforts with a quick reminder for the audience as to the day’s top 3 messages. If I have to ask you what I’m supposed to take away from the meeting, the day was not organized well.
- Give us a cross-section of your firm. We actually want to talk with your top execs, your customers, your lead developer, a key customer, a key reseller, etc. We want to talk to them all to see if everyone shares the same vision and everyone is focused on the same problems.