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Analyst Briefings: Preparing for Success

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This is the third in a series of blogs for AR professionals containing tips and pointers on how to optimize the relationship between AR and industry analysts. Here I take a more detailed look at preparing for analyst briefings.

Getting ready

So, you’ve decided to participate in an analyst report and managed to persuade your executives and subject matter experts (SMEs) to commit their time for a briefing. How do you start preparing?

Many report participation requests arrive with an explanation of what the analyst is looking for during your briefing. However, it’s important to also review what the analyst firm has written about your company, and it also helps to know what they have written about other companies. When reviewing analyst reports, look at the type of information typically covered, and the style of presentation, as this will help you understand in general terms what the analyst might be looking for during your briefing. If you do not have access to previous reports (perhaps you are participating for the first time), it’s a good idea to ask the analyst to share an old report, or at least an outline report, to better understand what’s required.

If you feel you’re missing any information that will help you prepare for the briefing… ask the analyst. This preparation will make your executives and SMEs feel confident during the briefing, and will reduce the number of follow-up items after the briefing.

To share a deck or not?

As an industry analyst, I have participated in a wide range of briefings, some based around a presentation deck, some not. So, do you need a briefing deck?  Here are a few things to consider:

  • If your executives and SMEs are prepared to cover the material the analyst has requested, it is not always necessary to share a deck, but you may want the analyst to have a take-away for further reference
  • Remember that the briefing will most likely be between one and one-and-a-half hours. It’s important to do a run-through of the deck to see if the information can be presented in a little over half of the time allotted. The remaining time will be needed for brief introductions, questions from the analyst, and the closing of the call (which includes discussion of next steps such as follow-up items and report timing updates)
  • An obvious one, but if you have a deck, confirm that the presenters have reviewed it and have the final version before the call!
  • Large decks can cause problems – e.g. it’s difficult for the analyst to ask questions when someone is trying to beat the clock presenting material from a 100-page presentation! Also, your SMEs may feel they didn’t do a good job presenting if they were unable to cover everything in the time
  • Additional details you may wish the analyst to be aware of, though not requested directly, can be included in an appendix rather than presented during the session
  • If you provide a deck, it’s good to share it with the analyst at least a couple of hours prior to the briefing, and preferably the day before. Having the deck in advance gives the analyst the opportunity to review it, and not ask questions in the session that are clearly answered in the deck, which optimizes time on the briefing for everyone
  • Be careful when pulling slides from other decks to avoid duplication
  • If the analyst provided specific questions or an evaluation tool in advance, it really helps to present answers concisely in one place rather than sharing a super-set of information that was previously produced for another request.

Further preparation tips

Here are a few more tips on preparing for briefings:

  • Remember to agree with your colleagues how NDAs will be used during briefings. Typically, the information being shared can be included in the analyst’s final report unless an NDA is marked on a specific item in the deck, or a verbal request for non-disclosure is made during the briefing
  • Having the analyst agree to a fact-check prior to publishing the final report also helps ensure that nothing sensitive makes its way into the report. Be careful with fact-checks: make sure you get to see all sections of the report that contain references to your company, not just a selection. I have had cases of client names being revealed because they were in sections I didn’t get to see!
  • Check with the analyst first to see if they need a corporate update during the briefing – often this isn’t required and only takes up time that could be spent on the relevant subject matter. Corporate updates on number of employees, locations, etc. can be contained in an appendix
  • Try to avoid giving generic numbers such as ‘our analytics offering reduces waste by 50%’. Instead, give specific client examples and tie benefits to them
  • Remember that analysts have to write from an objective perspective and are not able to use ‘adjective heavy’ wording, or wording with a marketing slant in their reports, so it’s best to avoid providing marcomms-style answers to questions
  • During the briefing, have your subject matter experts on IM so you can communicate behind the scenes. This helps avoid awkward questions on the call such as ‘am I allowed to say X?’

In the next blog in this series I will take a look at the use of client references and case studies in the briefing process.

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