I’m pleased to introduce my new directory of analysts, here at analystdirectory.barbarafrench.net.
This is both a new home and a new version of the Tekrati Directory of Analyst Firms. Let me tell you about it.
From 2000 to noon today, the analyst firms directory was part of Tekrati and I was its managing editor. Tekrati was the online guide to the IT and telecommunications industry analysts. It included 3 directories & OPML, 2 news services & a dozen RSS feeds, a strategic consulting business, and my tips, insights and commentary on the analyst business. By 2011, Tekrati had profiled some 650 analyst firms, published over 12,000 news posts, and hosted 150K to 250K unique visitors each year.
As of today, the analyst directory is a personal curation project and part of my personal blog.
It remains a freely available information resource for anyone — technology buyers, analyst relations professionals, marketers, journalists, analysts, recruiters — looking for experts on the tech and telecoms markets.
Gradually, this new directory will include organizations that employ analysts and produce industry research, regardless of whether they are “analyst firms”. Many industry organizations and corporations produce research on a par with the analyst houses. I’ll be adding them to this directory going forward, so that it becomes a better resource for influencer relations and influencer marketing programs.
Another change: As the directory is now part of my WordPress blog, comments are turned on! Feel free to post comments to any firm listing. That includes factual corrections and informed opinions. I will delete comments that are unprofessional or otherwise downright snarky.
As always: There’s no need to register to browse. There’s no charge for listings. There’s no option to upgrade listings. And, all listings are at my discretion.
Influencers come in all shapes and sizes and from all corners of a market. It’s tempting to pigeonhole influencers based on their business cards. That’s why many companies maintain discrete influencer marketing programs and measurement systems for the influential press, analysts, customers, consultants, authors, regulators and so on. The trouble is, that’s no longer how the world works. Consider this tweet today by Jeremiah Owyang:
In the past roles around Press, Media, and Analyst relations were clear. Yet, I write for Forbes, publish research reports, and blog. - @jowyang, May 3, 2010
What traditional influencer silo best suits Jeremiah? None. He’s a mix of many.
Likewise, decision-makers don’t think in terms of business cards. They don’t lay out plans to confer with 10 consultants, 9 investigative reporters, 8 industry analysts and a partridge in a pear tree. They confer with informed people who’ve earned their trust and are available when needed.
How can marketing adopt a more realistic view of influencers? A good place to start is agreeing on a common set of words to describe all types of influencers.
I advise keeping this very simple. For example, here are my 3 tents of influencer marketing:
- Intent: the motivation of the influencer
- Content: the scope, depth and currency of the influencer’s knowledge
- Extent: who the influencer influences plus when, how and how much
I like the 3 tents for many reasons, the top most being its emphasis on describing influencers as human beings. Try it. You can just as easily discuss and prioritize tech analysts, politicians and association opinion leaders.
You can only have this kind of conversation if you can describe all of your influencers with the same basic language.
There are no “right” or “wrong” words for describing influencers. What matters most is finding words that make sense across an entire company, and making those words part of the company culture. This is vital in the era of social media.
Companies still need specialized skills to maintain relations with each type of influencer. Adopting a common language for describing influencers is a giant first step towards mixing and allocating these skills more effectively.
Whenever you look for the purchase decision influencers in business intelligence (BI) and business analytics, you end up looking at the trade press. And there’s some noteworthy news on that front this week: media giant TechTarget announced that they’ve acquired the BeyeNETWORK properties and network of experts. TechTarget plans to leverage BeyeNETWORK experts to build out their footprint in BI via the new SearchBusinessAnalytics.com destination site.
Regardless how this M&A looks once the dust settles, it will have a definite impact on the influence wielded by the BeyeNETWORK experts.
Many of these experts are solo or small-group professionals with deep subject matter expertise. The group includes analysts, consultants, lecturers and authors. They tend to have closely held relationships with their clients and industry contacts. They influence purchases, implementation, and best practices around enterprise business intelligence, data warehousing and analytics software. They engage with the market, and formulate and promote their own opinions. They can also play important roles in the influencer ecosystem as intermediaries — bringing the viewpoints of more powerful influencers, such as vendors, directly to their own contacts.
If you’re in the BI market, monitor BeyeNETWORK and TechTarget over the next 3 to 6 months to see which experts get more play, which get less, which get lost, and any new experts attracted by the larger combined media site. Keep your focus on the individual influencers, not the BeyeNETWORK brand itself.
For example, some of the BeyeNETWORK experts I recommend putting on your watch list: Merv Adrian, Lou Agosta, Leslie Ament, Steve Dine, Neil Raden, Craig Shiff, James Taylor, and Colin White.
NewComm Forum is a social media and influencer marketing event I always make a point of attending. This year, I’ll attend on Weds April 21st. Per my earlier post at Tekrati, I’m pleased to give you discount codes for both the 1-day package and full conference.
Let me know if you’ll be there on the 21st. I’d love to meet you in person.
The NewComm Forum 2010 One-day Pass
Wednesday, April 21st
San Mateo, Calif.
Cost: $395, when you register and use discount code NCF1D
- Full Access Pass for the 21st
- 3 Keynote Sessions: Jackie Huba, online marketing expert and author; Dave Carroll, singer/songwriter, â€œUnited Breaks Guitarsâ€; and Tim Westergren, founder, chief strategist, Pandora
- Access to all conference sessions â€“ choose from 16 breakout sessions in five tracks
- Networking Activities and Food & Beverage Events
If you’d like to attend the entire event, use discount code NCF300 to save $300 off the full conference fee. Or, contact me directly for a slightly deeper discount.
One bit of advice: Be a focused networker to get the most out of this event. It’s a small event. Put yourself forward and you’ll easily go from merely rubbing elbows with top social media authors and practitioners to forging relationships with them.
You may wonder what draws me to an event like this, when I have free passes to industry analyst events around the planet. Here’s the thing: I always come away from NewComm Forum with new ideas and new relationships that contribute directly to my own thought leadership, services and strategies. Check this year’s agenda to see who’s of interest to you.
See you there!
Here’s a great find: Gideon Gartner has started a new blog. Now, if we could just convince him to start a new research and advisory firm!
One of the original CRM/SFA industry journalists-turned-advocates, Ginger Cooper recently took on a new role asÂ Director of Business Development forÂ Green Mobile Tech.Â Â The company specializes in matching client companies with the best mobile solutions for their needs.
In her words, “For end-user companies needing to purchase mobile hardware, we help them define their requirements and present them with the top options matching their needs and price point. We also resell some of the mobile software solutions with which we’re particularly impressed.” They’ll also step in on support issues, price negotiations and the lesser known down ‘n’ dirty on products. Clients include small to enterprise-class companies in retail and other industries, and software companies looking for the mobile technologiesÂ that will make their software hum.
Personally, I find Green Mobile Tech a little light on the “green”. However, I do see it as a good example of a shift underway among tech decision influencers. Jason Busch described this shift a few weeks ago. His take is that some of the dedicated “best in breed” influencers — e.g. analysts, systems integrators — are loosing ground as decision advisors. The issue is that they are too specialized, and too often lacking hands-on experience.
Take a good look at Green Mobile Tech. A well-rounded tech influencer list ought to include companies like it in addition to dedicated analysts, journalists, consultants and sourcing advisors.
I often advise companies to create a unique and compelling information resource as a component in their influencer marketing program. Here’s a fine example: PricewaterhouseCoopers’ work for the World Economic Forum and Davos 10 — the PwC KnowledgeConcierge.
The PwC KnowledgeConcierge pullsÂ together diverse facts and sources to convey a 360 degree view of the major topics being discussed at Davos 10.
It’s built on “FastFacts” — individual slides, each devoted to one aspect of a topic. Most are charts or other visuals. The FastFacts are grouped together, and this lets you consider the “whole” by looking at the “parts”.
The sets of charts don’t have an extra narrative nor do they need one: the slide titles and the charts themselves tell the story. Â And they do it in a compelling way.
PwC is able to present this range of facts because they keep an open mind about sourcing the FastFacts. Look closely and you’ll see that PwC draws from myriad sources: research companies, media, corporations, governments, public-private collaboratives, academia and non-profits.
Moral of the story: We all have unprecedented access to information - you, me, our influencers. Â If anything, we have access to too much information. You don’t need to create all the information you pass along to your influencers. You can be a value-added filter. Find the best information that’s out there and put it together in meaningful ways. You’ll still convey your point of view. You’ll just be using many voices to do it.
Influencers are magnets. For example, we know that an influential keynote speaker is a sure-fire way to attract an audience. Yet, influencers are not simply intermediaries between us and our customers. They can also attract other influencers to our brands, our causes and our communities.
Robert Scoble demonstrated this dynamic to me during the Supernova ‘09 reception last month. I had approached to ask his opinion on the growing raft of influencer ranking tools and we got to talking more generally about how influence works. Within minutes, Mashable’s Ben Parr interrupted, intent on getting Scoble to say he’d attend an upcoming event. Scoble was having none of it, until Parr mentioned that a particular person would be there. That changed everything. Scoble turned to me and said, “See, that’s one way you influence me.”
You’re not likely to be in Ben Parr’s position, in terms of knowing the one precise name to drop and when to drop it. However, you can get there. Here are some simple tips on how to attract influencers with influencers.
1. If you have a 1:1 relationship in place, just ask. I know it seems too simple. However, the best way to find out is to ask. Pose the question in an appropriate context. Be upfront. You might explain that you’re building a larger circle of thought leaders, and want to include the people that they would most like to associate with. Or ask, “Who influences you? Who most influences your thinking?” If you’re producing a panel discussion ask your influencers to name their dream panel.
2. Create opportunities to discover and develop relationships between your influencers. Let influencers mingle by arranging dinners or adding social time to your business events. The key is to facilitate introductions and conversations without being a control freak. Don’t hover every minute: allow private conversations within the group. Stand back and observe the social dynamics. Then figure out what you learned and how to apply it to make your influencer marketing program even better.
3. Open the door to diverse people inside your organization. It’s good practice to assign an employee as a buddy to an influencer - but only to a point. Make it easy for influencers to tap into different parts of your company and get to know a mix of personalities and roles. Put this capacity into the DNA of your influencer marketing program. Examples include issuing a descriptive contact list, enhancing a private influencer portal with selected employee profiles, or involving different topical experts each time you brief your opinion leaders.
4. Watch for signs of trouble. Every one of us comes with baggage. It’s our nature. So, make no assumptions about who attracts who and who repels who. As you get to know influencers as people, you’ll find that some at competing companies enjoy opportunities to rub elbows while some who appear repeatedly at the same events and in the same press stories privately loathe each other.
Ask, watch, listen, think. Trust me, there’s just no app for that human touch.
Many tech industry influencers think of Twitter as little more than a vehicle for extending the reach of their opinions. However, Twitter offers more to influencers than a bigger audience. It can be an aide in strengthening expertise as well. Combining the two agendas — improving expertise and expanding reach — makes good sense. One influencer who’s doing this is John Moore, founder of Chilmark Research.
John is a veteran industry analyst and an opinion leader on IT in the healthcare market. He was recently ranked in the top 50 tech industry analysts on Twitter, in a project using Edelman’s free measurement tool TweetLevel (see earlier post).
He provides a clear description of why and how he uses Twitter, including four tips based on his own experience:
- Do not write off any technology completely
- Define your purpose
- Choose who you follow carefully
- Be engaged and engaging
Check out the complete post. It’s one of the best explanations I’ve seen for people who are serious about managing their expertise and the reach of their opinions.
Solid research is the only way to cut through the chatter about identifying and prioritizing influencers for word-of-mouth marketing and other forms of influencer marketing. Mike Gotta (Burton Group / Gartner ) points out a just such a study, from the pharma industry. I like this study because it focuses on finding the hidden opinion leaders who drive the first wave of word-of-mouth product referrals.
The study identifies two distinct types of opinion leaders among the target physicians: those who are trusted and respected by peers (called sociometric leaders) and those physicians who think of themselves as well connected and influential (called self-reported opinion leaders).
The opinion leaders identified by their peers are not the traditional targets pursued by marketers. If anything, they contradict current marketing wisdom about influencers and influentials. They are not overtly well connected, outgoing or high profile in terms of being published or public speakers.
Three nuggets to think about:
The study finds little overlap between the two types of influencers. Physicians fell into one group or the other.
The under-the-radar opinion leaders are quicker to use new product and more likely to influencer others to try it. This finding is based on matching network data with perscription records.
The under-the-radar sociometric opinion leaders are more interested in what their peers are doing, and are more open to word-of-mouth or social influence, than the self-reported opinion leaders.
Both types of opinion leaders play important roles in robust influencer marketing programs. One group is not better than the other; they’re just different kinds of people. The best course of action is to identify and address both types of opinion leaders. That means doing more research and more segmentation.
Summary at Knowledge@Wharton (hat tip to Mike Gotta)