We all love short cuts … sneaky back roads to avoid traffic jams, ‘life hacks’ to speed up daily chores, and ingenious mobile apps that save us hours. But applying the same mindset to creating your briefing for IT analysts, like Gartner or Forrester, can be disastrous. Imagine it’s only days until your company’s first briefing with an IT analyst firm. You’ve locked yourself in the boardroom, the phone is on silent, and there’s a blank deck of slides staring back at you.

Three espressos later and a brilliant idea materializes: Why can’t we simply adapt the deck we used for our media launch of Product X a couple of months back? It looked great and it went down well with the press. With a few simple tweaks and extra slides from another deck, we could be there.

Result!

A huge wave of relief washes over you, and you wonder why no-one thought of it earlier?

Lunch calls. You feel euphoric.

Why re-invent the wheel?

Adapting what you have already is a pragmatic solution for many business challenges. There’s little point in creating new slides for customer B, when customer A’s deck will do. We’re all ultra-busy and no-one wants to re-invent the wheel, or has the time.

But here’s the problem: If you’re building a car, then an old bicycle wheel won’t do. Your project will be doomed the moment you attempt to move forwards.

Similarly, if your audience has radically different needs, then your briefing will misfire, lurch, and crumple in an embarrassing fashion — and frustrate your audience too.

Worse still, an analyst will realize exactly what you’ve done. They’ve seen it happen all too often. And it’s insulting to know you didn’t take the time to understand their needs.

Different animals, different food

At the root of this problem is a flawed assumption that journalists and analysts are essentially the same. In fact, they have fundamentally different objectives and needs.

The media want a story that will engage their readers and also drive eyeballs to their publication’s adverts. They need something right now — a strong enough story and some juicy quotes. Your claims and opinions might be enough to create a newsworthy headline to hook in readers.

Analysts are different. Engaging with them is a year-round activity, not a feeding frenzy. They need the confidence to be able to refer to you in published research and client conversations. For that to happen, they’ll want to know where you fit into the market, your capabilities and your vision. And this requires evidence, evidence, and more evidence.

Evidence — and where to find it

For analysts, a few simple facts and predictions won’t do. They need layers of solid evidence— especially from outside sources.

Facts about your customers and their experiences really count, as does independent research about you from the marketplace, whether this has been commissioned by you (assuming an acceptable sample size and survey methodology) or published by industry sources. You can also provide data about your financial performance, operational metrics and the capability of your underlying technology. Analysts also need to hear about proof of your vision, so tell them where you’re headed and how you plan to get there.

Put these elements and other key sources of evidence together in just the right way and you’ve got a compelling, authentic and memorable story.

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