Analyst targeting isn’t evil – it’s just segmentation
Many times over the years – usually over beers – my conversations with analysts have turned to how and why AR professionals choose to work with some analysts, but not others.
Most of them take it personally if they’re not considered “Tier 1” by all and sundry, but the fact is that most of them don’t understand the rigorous processes that many AR pros use to assess the influence and importance of analysts. Many analysts don’t understand their own value propositions either, but that’s the topic for a discussion on another day.
Analyst targeting & tiering is the foundation stone of any AR program. If you don’t understand who your audience is & why you’re talking to them, then frankly, you’re just wasting your time.
Of course, lots of other issues come into play – like resourcing & budgeting & reach & content & more. But when you’re building an AR program, you always have to start with the who & the why.
Vendors sell products, solutions & services. Some sell a wider range than others, but at the end of the day, they’re only of interest to some people, not everybody. If you sell soft drink, you can take out ads on television & the web and pretty much reach your target market (backed up with some clever social media campaigns that enhance the impact of your key influencers).
If you sell technology, your market is more limited. And if you sell a specific type of technology, then your market narrows even more. So does the number of observers, analysts & commentators who care about your product/solution/service.
Targeting is first and foremost about identifying analysts who are interested in what you sell. Why engage with people who don’t care about what you do?
All analysts are not equal, nor do they all do the same thing. Neither are journalists, or indeed customers. Marketing is all about segmentation, so it constantly amazes me that vendors dump analysts into a single bucket, when they’d never do the same with journalists or even media outlets. (It also constantly amazes me that some vendors dump analysts and journalists into the same bucket – and expect the same outcomes – but if they’re doing that, they don’t understand PR or AR!)
Would you treat the senior technology writer from a national business daily read by A & B demographics the same as the editor of a monthly publication that focuses on a particular technology segment? Of course not! Would you tell them the same stories? Probably not. Would you expect different outcomes? I hope so.
So if targeting is all about defining your audience, tiering is simply about evaluating the importance of the various members of that audience.
How do you go about targeting & tiering?
Like many things, that depends on who you are and what you’re trying to achieve. I’ll save a detailed discussion about targeting & tiering approaches for another post, but in short, it all comes down to what you want to achieve.
If you want to use analysts to help build your credibility with end-users who purchase your solutions, then you’re going to target one group of analysts, some of whom will share similar characteristics, many of whom won’t. If you want to use analysts to help improve your positioning in signature “market landscape” research, then you’re going to target another group; and if you want to use analysts to help build market awareness by writing about your solutions or talking to the media or conference audiences about you, then you’re looking at another group again.
If you want to do all of these things – and many vendors do – targeting & tiering becomes even more important, because you simply won’t have the resources and bandwidth to achieve all of these objectives equally, or even effectively.
So targeting & tiering is all about compromise, but in a positive way. It’s about focusing on which analysts are going to give you the best outcomes, depending on how your objectives are prioritised.
I’ll get into the detail of the tiering & targeting process in another post, but I’d love to hear your views in the meantime. Is analyst targeting evil, or just common sense?