Q: What’s worse than making an announcement on a new “global strategic alliance”?
A: Running a joint analyst briefing – where two companies get together to share their enthusiasm with hard-bitten industry analysts.
Although it might seem like a good idea, then unless it’s a multi-billion dollar deal, it’s best NOT to do a joint briefing session. Joint announcements have become such a cliche that some analysts refer to them as a “Barney announcements” – a reference to the purple TV dinosaur who so happily sings: “I love you, and you love me, and we’re a happy family”.
If that hasn’t put you off already, read on.
Let’s start by examining why it’s old hat to announce a global strategic alliance. The simple reason is that the term is widely abused and over-used. Search PR Newswire on “strategic alliance” and you’ll find page after page after page of joint news releases – usually talking from an inside-out perspective, rather than outlining the win-win situation for the vendors’ shared customer base. No doubt, an executive named in the news release is “incredibly excited” by such a “ground-breaking partnership”.
However, if you look for actual media coverage on strategic alliances, then aside from PR Newswire and other “post your press release here” websites, there’s precious little.
Why you shouldn’t do a joint analyst briefing
Once you’ve got the joint press release out of your system, it’s time for the joint briefing with industry analysts, as of course you want to be sure they recognize your combined leadership as masters of the universe.
The very concept of running a joint briefing with analysts – unless it’s one company taking over another – is an exceptionally bad idea. This is because you’re presenting the analysts with a situation where they cannot properly do what they’re best at – which is to provide independent, straight-talking feedback.
“You’re never good enough for Gartner” is an old piece of wisdom, and underlines the value of engaging effectively with industry analysts. Their job is to see through the hype and ask those tough questions. As a vendor, these are the questions you want to hear, no matter how tough they are … remember it’s what the same analysts are telling your end customers. If they’re skeptical about a deal, you need to know about it.
Engaging effectively with industry analysts means taking time to understand their views, and to address any doubts. The problem with a joint briefing is that analysts are much less likely to express their true feelings about your choice of new strategic alliance partner – or the value of the alliance – if that that partner is also hanging on the phone or sitting at the table. What’s more, in its eagerness to say the right things in front of an alliance partner, a vendor may not portray themselves in the best light when engaging with an incredibly influential third-party.
A far better approach: Put your notes together with your new strategic alliance partner, so that both parties agree on the key points they want to bring across when briefing the analysts. In individual briefing calls, each vendor can then take the time to lay out the benefits on their side of the deal, as well as for customers, and to talk about their expectations (what success looks like) from the deal.
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