Barbara on May 28th, 2009

tc_researchTechCrunch has edged into the syndicated research business, the traditional turf of analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester Research, IDC, Burton Group, et al. The idea behind TechCrunch Research is elegantly simple: package up quarterly reports based on the open source CrunchBase wiki database, sell the reports at economical price points and promote the service across the TechCrunch media network.

What are the implications for analysts and influencer relations managers? Hint: This isn’t about the upfront revenues from selling research reports, or annual subscriptions.

The implication for analysts who cover tech and mobile start-ups is serious new competition for the coveted role as a trusted and well-known expert. TechCrunch Research is promoted across the TechCrunch network — a network that garners 5.5 million unique visitors each month and is wildy popular with VCs, start-ups, early adopters and C-level tech execs. Name an analyst firm that can compete with that kind of audience on this particular market segment. In an attention economy, TechCrunch Research looks like a winner.

There is another implication and it goes far beyond analysts who cover start-ups. TechCrunch Research is the first serious competitor basing paid research subscriptions on open sourced content.

Think about that for a minute. Think about the difference this represents in the cost of acquiring data and the options for making money off of it without sacrificing integrity.

CrunchBase covers close to 19,000 start-ups, plus funding activity, acquisition activity and profiles of some people. Contributors include the TechCrunch staff plus readers and those wanting to be listed. In other words, it’s community based.

Plus, it’s published under a Creative Commons Attribution License [CC-BY], thus it is “open source”. It’s also freely available, however try not to confuse open source with free. “Open source” is strictly about the license rights, “freely available” is strictly about the price tag to the buyer.

Finally, what about analyst relations managers and others involved in influencer relations? First, take a hard look at the TechCrunch demographics to understand how the readership maps to your decision-makers and their influencers.

If it counts, then consider what you’ll need to track: TechCrunch Research reports, the CrunchBase database and coverage and comments impacting reputation across the TechCrunch media network.

Regardless of whether or not your interests center on start-ups, take a good look at CrunchBase. How will you manage relationships with research outfits when their researchers include the community as well as the named staffers? That’s an interesting picture.

And just in case your knee-jerk reaction to any of this is, “Never gonna happen on my watch”, remember this: where TechCrunch goes, others follow. Many others.

For more on TechCrunch’s entry into the research market, see my coverage at Tekrati, TechCrunch Reinforces Entry into Syndicated Research Market“.

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Barbara on May 27th, 2009

Hannah Kirkman was in touch with an invitation to the IIAR breakfast meeting in conjunction with the Forrester IT Forum EMEA in Berlin next week.  It’s an opportunity to find out about the IIAR (Institute of Industry Analyst Relations) and network with analyst relations peers.  

The informal breakfast meeting starts at 8:00AM CET on Wednesday, June 3rd at the Maritim Hotel. 

If you plan to go, please RSVP to Hannah via the IIAR or her agency, Richmond Green.

Forrester’s IT Forum EMEA 2009 runs June 3-5 at the Maritim Hotel in Berlin.

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love-digital-logoDavid Campbell, a digital marketing expert and one of Australia’s youngest agency heads, says the adage that word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing has been around a long time. But how do you actually activate it? How can companies and agencies stimulate word of mouth marketing and use influencer marketing? And, what are the implications for traditional advertising? David delves into these questions and more  during a recent interview with Nick Hayes.

The 13-minute podcast is available through his site, Love Digital, and at marketingmag.com.au, the online home of Australia’s Marketing Magazine and a vibrant marketing community:

At MarketingMag: “Podcast: Influencer Marketing”
At David’s Digital Love site: LD Out Loud, 21 May 2009, Influencer Marketing with Nick Hayes

You can find out more about Influencer50 services available in Australia by contacting Bernie Reilly, who heads Influencer50 Asia Pacific out of our Sydney office.  Or give me a shout.

For more on the Influencer Marketing book referenced during the interview, check out InfluencerMarketingBook.com

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ZDNet blogger Paul Greenberg ran a poll last week asking who his readers trust most — analysts, journalists, institutional analysts, bloggers, others — “when it comes to a good, clean honest look at the enterprise technology industry… especially around traditional and social enterprise software (CRM, ERP, social network platforms) and technologies associated with it”.

With 171 votes to date, the most popular answers are “Ventana Research” (18%), “I don’t trust analysts” (16%), and Gartner (13%).

At least a few readers took issue with Paul mixing analysts such as Gartner with the likes of journalists, bloggers and institutional analysts. I agree with Paul in this instance. The traditional “analyst” role is part and parcel of the work performed by many journalists and bloggers. Plus, the overlay with institutional analyst reports is just as strong today as at any time in the past.

As I noted in the comments to Paul’s post, informed decision-makers bet on the jockey, not the horse. The results would be different if the poll presented a dozen enterprise analysts and journalists rather than company names like Gartner, Forrester and Frost & Sullivan.

As an aside: It looks as though Ventana put some effort into turning out their voters. It’s too bad they don’t work for the state of California. We could have used them for last week’s special election.

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Historically, analyst relations (AR) programs have been designed as a bridge between a technology company and the analyst community. As a result, AR programs have focused first and foremost on analysts, and only indirectly on prospects, customers and other decision-makers. Is it possible to reverse this program orientation? Bring it more in line with other communications strategies, such as social media where there’s a much more direct line between influencers and decision-makers?

If you were to do this, you would re-design the analyst relations outreach program as a bridge to decision-makers. The difference may be quite subtle. Yet, it is not the same as designing a program centered on the analysts themselves. One approach views industry analysts as a means to reach and influence decision-makers, the other approach views analysts as the end-goal of the program.

I’ve found that many company executives view the analysts only as a means to an end.

Of course, customers and prospects are not the only people who listen to analysts. Industry analysts can help inform and influence channel partners, developer communities, business development alliances, government agencies, and more. Seeing the analysts in terms of these relationships is just as important as seeing them within the context of sales.

Aligning AR programs with decision-makers and other influencers at the core could change the way your company organizes, funds and measures its analyst outreach.

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Barbara on May 12th, 2009

I’ll be at BiteBash in San Francisco tonight, “Navigating Your Brand through the Great Recession”. It’s such a timely topic. Bite’s David Hargreaves sums up the risks and opportunities that surround marketing right now:

“Harvard Business Review recently reported that companies who slash marketing spending often find that they later have to invest much more than they saved in order to recover from their prolonged absence from the media landscape. A separate article from Harvard Associate Dean John A. Quelch suggests organizations should even be spending more during a downturn to exploit the gaps left by their competitors.”

I’m focused on working with influencers as a straightforward approach to aligning marketing with business objectives so I’m keen to hear perspectives from the different speakers and the audience participants.

Please say hello if you’re there as well.

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2009_time100I am impressed with the interactive section on the “People Behind The People” published with the 2009 Time 100. It’s an indicator that even a mass consumer audience is interested in learning about “behind the scenes” influencers.

Time did a great job slicing and presenting this content to boot, given their audience.

It’s a reminder for all of us that with a little creativity we can make our work with influencer relations captivating to our own audiences.

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Barbara on May 6th, 2009

One of the challenges facing high tech marketing is how to update existing analyst relations programs, given the growing importance of more types of influencers. No one wants to lose valuable AR skills. Yet, companies want to realize better returns from these staffs and programs.

This puts AR at risk on 2 fronts. The first is a matter of perception: becoming marginalized as other types of influencers win more share of mind with vendor sales and management.

The second risk is that AR will fall out of step with marketing priorities as new
disciplines displace traditional marketing silos and spend.

I believe that, like the analyst business, the analyst relations profession is not going away anytime soon. However, there are good reasons to start aligning analyst relations with newer
ideas about who’s influencing whom, how to fund influencer programs and how to measure results.

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In today’s Email Insider newsletter, guest contributor Chad White (Smith-Harmon) points out fundamental differences between email programs used tactically and those used strategically. His points resonate with influencer programs as well:

Those that are using it [email marketing] tactically view email campaigns as isolated one-off events. An email is sent out and sales are tallied up. There’s no bigger picture. Their subscribers are just numbers that produce more numbers.

Those that are using it [email marketing] strategically view email campaigns as part of an ongoing conversation, an ever-changing relationship with individual subscribers. To those in this group, their email list is an extremely valuable and closely guarded asset.

Many companies fall into the same traps with their influencer programs.

The press, bloggers and analysts tend to complain about being treated in a tactical way. They bite back. Or, they stop answering calls and emails.

What about other types of influencers? They are less likely to complain. Their attention simply shifts to companies who demonstrate greater respect and interest in their opinions. In some cases, they include your treatment of them as another insight they share about your company culture, setting low expectations with prospects and others in their circle of influence.

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The 2009 World Innovation Forum takes place tomorrow and Wednesday in New York City. Academics, experts, practitioners and other thought-leaders will present their views on how innovation can help businesses grow and increase their profitability. In addition to an impressive speaker line-up, the organizers are expecting an executive audience representing more than 100 companies in more than 20 countries.

The World Innovation Forum was ranked as the #1 best new forum in the “2008 Most Valuable Podiums Survey” by Burson Marsteller.

This year’s speakers include:

  • Clayton Christensen on Disruptive Innovation as a Platform for Growth
  • Fred Krupp on Untangling the Future: Why Innovations Never Follow a Straight Line
  • CK Prahalad on The New Age of Innovation
  • Paul Saffo on How Today’s Technology is Defining Tomorrow’s Creator Economy
  • Vijay Govindarajan on Strategic Innovators: From Ideas to Execution
  • Dan Ariely on Changing Focus: Why Human Behavior is the Hunting Ground for Insight and Innovation

The agenda also includes real-world innovation examples from Jet Blue’s revolutionary terminal at JFK Airport to GlaxoSmithKline driving growth through innovative ways of relating brands to customers at an emotional level.

When: Tuesday & Wednesday, May 5-6
Where: Nokia Theatre – 1515 Broadway, New York City
Conference details including specific speaker times can be found at: www.wifny.com.

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