(Question: Do you have anything new and interesting to say?)
One of my old Marketing clients recently rang me up. They were prepping for a briefing call with an IT analyst firm. The lead Marketing exec wanted to run by me his thoughts for a presentation deck they wanted to use. He knew I’ve been on the receiving end of scores of these.
In general, I offered him this counsel:
1) Build an issue-based deck and create a separate company backgrounder document. If your deck is a narcissistic piece all about:
- our glorious leader - our undifferentiated vision statement - a world map with all of your offices - a list of your solutions - etc.
then you’re going to frustrate the analyst mightily. This is background stuff. If, and this is a big if, the analyst ever does write something about your firm, they’ll refer to this stuff later. First, you need to focus on the kinds of things that an analyst wants or needs to know.
2) The issue-based deck should define the:
- business challenges that solutions like yours solve - recent research your firm has completed in this space - unique insights your executives or your firm has on its solution space - future concerns your firm is studying/watching
3) The issue-based deck should:
- confirm, challenge or refute some market assumptions the analyst may already have.
- include some non-obvious, ah-ha moments. Analysts aren’t stupid. They track your market and talk to all of your competitors. They know the score. Give them an excuse to write about something new or different. If they do, many analysts will credit your firm as the inspiration for this. And, isn’t that what you want anyway? Don’t you want your firm to be perceived as a leader in its space?
- be about 8-10 slides maximum. If you need more real estate than that, you don’t realize that your call may be only 20 minutes long and the analyst will speak for half of that. Make the material so powerful that the analyst wants to schedule a follow-up call.
- focused on original, new, novel content that few know. Showcase new market insights, new customer market needs, changing customer attributes, etc. Tie these insights to adjustments your firm is making to its products and solutions.
4) The background material should contain this:
- 1 slide – key dates/facts (e.g., year founded, equity structure, number of employees, revenues)
- 1 slide – a picture of your key offerings with a tiny note under each that explains why your approach or offering is so gosh-darned unique and competitively differentiated
- 1 slide – what your firm stands for – Are you the lowest cost SAP implementer in the world (i.e., low cost leader or process excellent)? Are you customer intimate (Think McKinsey the F500 CEOs they serve)? Are you a major innovator (e.g., Apple)? Are you a fast follower (e.g., most systems integrators don’t create anything but they install everyone else’s innovations)? If you’re a fast follower, know that an analyst will want to know what future innovations you expect to be hot and how you’ll ramp up for them. Service firms really struggle with this slide as they lack any real differentiation. Have you ever heard a service firm executive ever say they didn’t hire the best talent?
- 1 slide – key executives, their bios and their contact info
- 1 slide – proof of the value your firm has delivered to three clients. Don’t waste the analyst's time telling me what your product is (i.e., “We make a SaaS-based general ledger that supports IFRS accounting in 13 countries). Instead, tell me that your solution has already saved a firm over $1billion by a patented process you created
When you get a chance to brief an analyst, remember that this isn't an opportunity to drone on and on about yourself. You need to cultivate the image that you and your firm are special, thoughtful and strategic. The analyst needs to learn something from this exchange. If the only thing they learn is the names of your executives and the solutions you sell, I'll guarantee that the analyst won't write a report about you or, worse, will write a negative one.
Analysts write about things that impress them. Give them something to write about!