Industry Analyst Relations—Challenges Abound

Calling all marketing and AR Pros!

If you are anything like me, you have had your share of challenges working with the industry analyst community. Most of us have had to just “grin and bear it” in the face of the greater good of your company or your client.  Frankly, I am tired of it, and am openly wondering if the times have passed the traditional analyst model by.

After a particularly frustrating encounter last month I sat down and banged out 1800 words on what was wrong with the AR model without trying too hard.  To avoid being a hypocrite, ore more accurately, to quit whining about it, I also added what I thought should be done to improve how the analyst firms work with technology vendors and technology buyers. Now, at nearly 2600 words, I wanted to get your take on this subject as I put the finishing touches on my “Open Letter to the AR Community”

In the comments here, feel free to share your biggest challenges when working with the industry analyst community.  Or if you prefer to keep them anonymous DM me on Twitter, or send me a message on LinkedIn. I will curate the stories and include them as reference for my post. 

I would love to hear what you think can be done to fix the AR industry model as well (assuming of course, you think it’s broken too!)

I look forward to hearing from you!.

@ajdun

Travel-Log: Dumping the Laptop for an iPad

Can you really dump the laptop for an iPad? Probably not, but I took a shot at travelling with my iPad only this week to see if I could handle it, and the results were “mixed.” 

For the better part of 15 years I have traveled with a laptop. Work or pleasure, I always had my trusty laptop in tow. There was always work to be done on the plane, or after the conference or event. It just became part of my travel bag, right next to the workout clothes, and the clear plastic bag with my toiletries (thoguh notably absent my toothpaste and floss this trip.. ugh!) 

The last few trips though I started carrying my iPad with me as well. I found myself using it for most of the day and only periodically logging in on my laptop. Coupled with my trusty Blackberry(!) I started to wonder if I needed my laptop at all.

So I tried to go without.

This week I went to San Francisco to participate on a web content management vendor panel at the Inbound Marketing Summit. Given my quick turn-around (out on Monday night, back Wednesday night), I thought this was a good trip to try to go laptop-less.

How did it go? Here are a couple of quick observations:

  • After all of these years, it’s hard to give up the laptop, but I survived, easily
  • Airport security was easier without having to take the laptop out of the bag, one less bin
  • Not being able to work on email offline created a small challenge, but I got over it
  • I definitely need a little bag to carry it and a few other small things in, it’s hard walking around with it under your arm the whole time
  • In a tight conference room, I wouldn’t have pulled out my laptop, but this way I could connect without being obtrusive, and it was easier to move around the room
  • I have gotten pretty good at trouble shooting a wireless connection on a laptop, but when my iPad wouldn’t connect to the conference network at first, I was pretty lost (a big thank you to whomever left their Android Access Point open for me to “borrow” that first morning.)
  • Evernote doesn’t work that well in offline mode (at least for me), so I had to use the native notepad app, which isn’t as good
  • Despite typing on the key pad for 2 straight days, I still hit that damn “m” key instead of the space bar far too many times

Netting the experience out, despite a few minutes of trepidation realizing I didn’t have a few files with me, it worked out just fine. Definitely works best for shorter trips though. Any longer, I think I will need to bring the big old brick!

@ajdun

PS, Rather than try to replicate the most innovative show recaps by @Conferencebites and @kabaim I will simply point to those instead.  My three key takeaways?

  1. Mobile is hot
  2. Mobile is really, really hot
  3. Mobile is so hot, why aren’t you already doing mobile?

By Me: Recent Content Marketing Articles

I have been doing a lot of writing recently, just not for this blog unfortunately. Current topics focus on the rise of content marketing as the latest hot thing, Percussion’s business blogging survey, and new ways to think about how your web content management system plays a role in driving business outcomes.

If you are interested in reading more on these topics, here are some handy links.

MarketingProfs >> Content Marketing: A New Approach to an Old Idea

The premise of this article is that while Content Marketing is not new, how people are thinking of it today has dramatically change perspectives of how it can be used, in particular, by the “c-suite.” Judging from the tweets and retweets of the article, readers found the chart that helps link Content Marketing vehicles to business outcomes particularly interesting and useful.

CMS Wire >> Marketers Want Simplicity in a Complex Online World

I am long a proponent that marketers want simplicity overall. Help me do my job or get out of my way essentially. This article focuses on how the content management community isn’t helping things by “over-complexifying” our world.

Percussion Survey: The Paradox of Blogging: Why aren’t you?

At Percussion, we conducted a survey of over 800 mid-market technology companies to look for trends in the state of blogging today. We found that the vast majority of you weren’t blogging at all. Read the blog post from our Product Marketing Manager here:  And link to download the full report if interested from there.

Moving Towards Agile Marketing, One Step at at Time

Can Marketing run an Agile Process like software development?

This was a question I pondered a year or so ago when I started building my team at Percussion. I had heard of a few other folks using Agile principles to run their marketing team and I found that fascinating. As a tech-head at heart, the concept of a daily stand-up, stories, backlogs etc made a lot of sense to me. I marked it down in my personal backlog in my head as something to consider for the future.

And now, the item finally made it off the backlog list and into a sprint.

Today's Marketing Top 5 Board

One side benefit of the office renovation we just completed is massive whiteboard walls throughout the office. While part of my marketing team sits arm in arm on the sales floor, the other half now sits in area on the north side of the kitchen that I call “Marketing North.” And they have one of the big whiteboard walls.

(And those of you who know me well, know how much I love me some whiteboard!)

To help keep track of team activities and increase transparency with the rest of the org, we recently started posting each of our “Top 5s” to the board. These are the five things we expect to accomplish that week. Every Monday, we will move the completed items to the “Accomplished” list and then carryover/add to it for that week. The expectation is there will always be between 4 and 6 items on the board for each person.

This coming week we are kicking off the “Monday Stand Up” where we each go through out items and add/subtract/complete. Not sure yet if we will move to a daily stand-up, will see how it goes. We are also adding a backlog list of things that are in our queue but not yet made it to the action board.  As with any story board, we need to be sure that we mix in strategic activity and not just tactical execution. The good news is that the ideas are already flowing on a solution.

The best part of the new program? Even though we haven’t formally told anybody about it in the office, we are already getting feedback from people about how helpful it is to know what we are up to.

Stay tuned as we make progress toward becoming Agile Marketers!

@ajdun

Et Tu, Google? …

Et Tu, Google? Will Search + Mean the Rise of Google + or the Rise of Bing?

Catching up on the latest changes to the search process from Google this week. If you need a recap read Danny Sullivan’s take here. The CMO Site has an excellent discussion on what this might mean for marketers, including some good comments on how this might play out. The net:

>Search + will add relevant links from your Circles to your search results. Allegedly this is a good thing.

I have written previously about how I feel about Google+ chances and, despite all the “Buzz” my opinion hasn’t changed. And in fact, this just makes it worse.

Right now, Google + is not terribly well used, despite some interesting features, an expensive TV campaign, and the relentless shilling by some of the web’s most followed intelligentsia (Exhibit A: Chris Brogan)

Based on my admittedly limited sample of the comments around the new Search + feature, we are about to see a rush of marketers on to Google + with the sole goal of trying to manipulate their followings to ensure they remain relevant in key search results.

Huge windfall for Google + right? Wrong.

Given the relatively low market saturation as compared to Facebook and Twitter, and even LinkedIn (which everyone seems to conveniently forget) Google + runs the risk of creating an alternative social universe dominated by brands attempting to drive a conversation and game the results. Given the overall footprint of Google + today, it really won’t take much. This will have two substantial impacts:

  1. New users will be turned off based on the view that: “that just where the marketing peopled hang out to promote their stuff” (As Second Life was to Porn?)
  2. Search results/effectiveness will suffer because the value of those top page results will decline

And if #2 happens, as a marketer, I am no longer going to pay big money to ensure Page One Adwords results. (impact #3)

And if both #2 and #3 happen, doesn’t that create a window for Bing and Facebook and Twitter to tie up to do something similar, but with an actual community—and for Bing to REALLY steal share from Google?

Now THAT would be something!

@ajdun

Interested in what this means for Content marketing and web content management? Read my post on Percussion.com here. 

Marketing Themes for 2012: Be Different-Do Different

Hard to imagine that 2012 is almost upon us. My kids are on high alert though because Christmas and Hanukkah are almost here. A sure sign that the New Year is nigh!

This is my third “look ahead” blog post since I started focusing on this blog a few years back.  In 2010 my key message was “Focus, Focus, Focus” in 2011, it was “Align your activity with the current business objectives.” Both of those are as valid today as they were then.

My theme for 2012? “In order to Be Different, you have to DO different. “

I currently work in a very crowded technology market space.  So crowded that an industry watcher recently penned the blog post we have all thought about. In the post they grabbed 10 tag lines from vendors attending a show to highlight how similar they were. My company was one of the offending parties.

But we are going through a transformation, both for our business, our product set, our competitive set, and for the market overall.  And that requires renewed focus on actually being different.  A few weeks back over lunch with an industry insider I was previewing some of our upcoming design directions.  I explained how we were trying to change how we are viewed in the market…”  He gracefully cut me off with a short “Remember what Yoda said?”

“Do or Do Not, There is no Try”

Exactly.

I decided we needed to stop talking about how we are going to change, or how we are going to be different, we actually have to DO different.

I came home that night and challenged my team with that message. When exploring two options, or paths or directions, err on the side of changing the game.

Not that we should do different just for the sake of it, We need to use this strategy as a weapon, and as a guidepost for our planning and decision making process, and most of all, our design approach.

You can see this vision in action with the current design styling on our web site, or the graphics we used at the booth during the show. (I can promise that we definitely looked and sounded different at that show!)

Now surely we will get a few things wrong but as long as we are pushing the envelope, and not just doing something because it’s “the safe approach” then I am ok with it.

We are blessed with a truly differentiated product in the marketplace. It’s time for our activities to reflect that differentiation.

@ajdun

7Billion people, Peak Oil, C02 Recapture and Global Markets

My 9 year old budding environmentalist asked over dinner the other night if it was possible to keep the earth cool. It appears that this has been a topic of learning in her 4th grade “weather” module.

What ensued was an interesting discussion between me, the “marketing guy,” my wife the Environmental Scientist by training and trade, and my daughter on what could happen. And oh yeah, we had to talk in terms that a 9 year old (and my 7 year old son) could understand.

What kicked off the conversation is this fascinating article in Fortune Magazine about CO2 recapture technology. My daughter had liked the picture of the big “fans” in the middle of the plains and read a few paragraphs of the article.

This was a new one for me as well. The concept of pulling CO2 out of the air at any kind of scale was something I hadn’t heard of.

We also learned this month that the world’s populate topped 7 Billion people. When I was my daughter’s age, 4 Billion people seemed like a lot, and the concept of “doubling in my lifetime was far too abstract and seemed catastrophic.  How would we feed all of these people? How would we deal with the overcrowding?

The same way we always have, a little bit a time. Slow, incremental changes give us time to adapt. The oceans are not going to rise 2 feet overnight. The population isn’t going to double overnight. Oil isn’t going to stop being produced overnight.

So what did I tell my daughter? I told her that despite the meltdown of 2008, I believe in global markets. At some point oil will be too expensive and alternative energies will become worth it.  Then, market forces will take over. The same with rising oceans, and the same with rising populations. What seems too abstract (7  Billion people?!) will become real as will the solutions, there will be too much at stake.

The idea that you could use recaptured CO2 to grow enough Algae to meet our energy needs in a completely renewable lifecycle is one of those abstract ideas. But as the technology evolves, and the price dynamics of oil change around, the early research being done today might pay off. Only time will tell.

Even if it’s already too late to have a real impact on global warming. Even if Peak Oil has in fact come and gone. Even if we can’t possibly see how we will ever feed 7 or 8 billion people. Because, even with all of that, I believe in the power of Markets and the resiliency of the human race.

And in the end, do we really have a choice?