I thoroughly enjoyed and could very much relate to Jon Reed’s recent post, How to screw up a vendor analyst day – in 12 simple steps. So much so that I’m inspired to write my own take on how to create a more compelling analyst event that’s more rewarding for all involved.
Vendors spend a lot of time and money on these events. Presumably, they want to deepen their relationships with analysts and influencers, and give them the insights they need to offer constructive feedback and provide perspectives to the broader market. However, like Jon, I’m constantly amazed at how often they seem to miss these marks–as evidenced by analysts that have tuned out to look at news, email or sports on their laptops or phones. So here are my suggestions for how to create an analyst day that will help you better engage with analysts.
- Make the presentations as interactive as possible. Having to hold questions until the end of presentations is an unnatural act for analysts. It also signals that you are way more interested in talking to us rather than engaging with us. Two-way street, remember? At smaller venues, take questions along the way. At larger ones, try something new–maybe some interactive polling or live-streaming sentiment analysis. After all, you are a technology company,
- Give us the deck upfront so we don’t have to keep taking photos. A picture is often worth a thousand words. That’s why analysts are constantly snapping photos of presentations, whether to share on Twitter or use later. This is crazy! Just provide us with the deck and make it easy for us to share screen shots during the event.
- Remember that everything you do does not have to involve a talking head and a Powerpoint deck. Some of the best (and sadly very infrequent) sessions I’ve been to have focused having a dialogue with analysts! Imagine that. Schedule more break out sessions and roundtables–they can lead off with a few slides, but the goal should be dialogue.
- Ditch the canned panel presentations. So you’ve schedule an hour panel session, and use up 45 or 50 minutes having the moderator asked canned questions. What is up with that? Ask a couple of planned questions to warm things up, but get to the analyst questions after 15 minutes.
- Feature SMB and midmarket customer, not just your large enterprise clients. Everyone loves sharing their marquee names. But businesses with fewer than 500 employees account for 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms! Plus, the creation-destruction cycle in business is accelerating. Creative SMBs will disrupt and replace slower-moving large businesses. I want to hear how you’re helping them to do that.
- Schedule relevant 1-1 meetings for analysts. I shouldn’t have to even say this! But at many events, I end up in 1-1s with people who have no responsiblity for anything event remotely SMB related–and what I cover are SMB and midmarket. It’s a waste of time, both for the analyst and the executive.
- Inform executives and others at your company about the analysts they’re meeting with. The best AR teams not only schedule analyst 1-1s with the executives in your firm that most relevant to analyst coverage areas, but also supply the executive with analyst bios and some samples of their blog posts or reports.
- Make it easy for analysts to get to your event. As frequent business travelers, travel is not a novelty or adventure for us. So we appreciate anything you can do to ease travel to your event. Make it easy for us to book air and hotel. Provide a van, or car, or coupon for Lyft to get to the hotel from the airport. And don’t scrimp on the little things. In addition to picking up the major expenses, cover analyst expenses for parking, meals while they’re traveling, minor upgrades like the $15 Southwest fee to reserve Early Bird seating, etc. These little things add up–especially for independent analysts or analysts that work at boutique shops.
- Hold your event somewhere different. We get that you need to be in Orlando, Las Vegas, San Francisco, etc. to accommodate thousands or even tens of thousands at your customer-centric events. But analyst events are small, tens to maybe a couple of hundred of people. Go off the beaten track. Having your event somewhere else (still easy to get to though!) is a welcome change.
- Take us out to or bring in some local flavor. So now that you’re in a more interesting place, take us somewhere to experience just a bit of it…dinner at a museum, on a boat, whatever. Or at least bring some local flavor in.
- Schedule enough time for analysts to take a break between the end of day sessions and dinner. We’ve given up a couple of days to be at your event, but we need a little buffer to get other things done, whether it be business related or personal. 5 or 15 minutes isn’t enough. 60 minutes is okay, but 90 minutes works best.
Some vendors already do some of these things, and some do many of them. But many haven’t shaken things up in years. While I understand that it takes more time and energy to do try new approaches, I’m at least one analyst that thinks your investment will pay off.
© SMB Group 2018
Hi Laurie – terrific job fleshing out additional points in a less satirical manner than I did 🙂
I think you’ve nailed a lot of aspects to bringing out that interaction. My cynical jokes aside, I think most of us don’t get enough of the back and forth on these analyst days, and there is absolutely a chance to change that.
Two key bullet points from your views:
“Some of the best (and sadly very infrequent) sessions I’ve been to have focused having a dialogue with analysts! Imagine that. Schedule more break out sessions and roundtables–they can lead off with a few slides, but the goal should be dialogue.”
I think that’s the biggest opportunity from both of our pieces. And:
“Ditch the canned panel presentations. So you’ve schedule an hour panel session, and use up 45 or 50 minutes having the moderator asked canned questions. What is up with that? Ask a couple of planned questions to warm things up, but get to the analyst questions after 15 minutes.”
Agreed. I’m not even convinced even one warm up question is needed but if vendors listened to your advice, they’d have a much more dynamic session. Especially with customers. Yes, get the right customers on stage – but let us ask the questions. I interpret over-moderation of customer panels as insecurity about the customer’s experiences with your product/service. Analysts like Laurie will get to the bottom of that either way, so let us have at it.
I hope that these crucial points on interactivity don’t get lost in the weeds of some of our fussier (and sometimes divergent) preferences around travel and location and such. The fact is I’ll put up with a lot of travel and, yes, even some expensing hassles like those you refer to – for terrific, interactive content discussions. I think most of us will.
Great locations are nice but my view is that since most analyst events are shorter than user conferences, thoughts on getting in and out of the event easily are worth having. But to me those are fine tuning things to poll the analysts about ahead of time.
I said in my piece, and continue to believe, analysts will gladly have input on such days ahead of time to help make them better. Events are hard; great events are harder.
Here’s to better talks and less slide dumps 🙂