A lot of emerging companies think they've "arrived" when they've launched their first analyst briefing "tour." Oftentimes, these start-ups have very small to no marketing function internally, instead turning to outside agencies for public relations, marketing communications, and of course, the debut to the analyst influencers. These small firms feel confident that once they've placed themselves in the hands of the seemingly capable agencies, they'll get all the ink and influence needed to execute the hockey-stick growth curve they've presented to their board and investors. The agency then scurries off, schedules a bunch of analyst briefings, and gives themselves a big pat on the back: mission accomplished! The appointed briefing time comes, the firm's show dog delivers the pitch, and then. . . the promise of a successful briefing fizzles.
Earlier this week, I had a briefing with just such a start-up. The agency dutifully sent me the slides in advance and, as analysts are inclined to do, I took a look. . . and was left wondering just what value this agency was providing to this client. Why? The slide deck, while short, did nothing to sell this company to me, the analyst. Here's the start-up's value proposition:
To this end, Company X seeks to design a system leveraging the latest technologies and utilizing a common processing engine and user interface to provide an integrated, easy-to-use, cost effective solution for financial institution.
The start-up's strategic direction?
Our goal is to provide a product that:
- Reduces costs
- Provides new products and services to attract new customers and create new fee income
- Improves the customer experience
- Helps customers be competitive
Whoa! Buyers don't care about products, they care about outcomes.
When I asked the agency rep, who in this case had the title "Vice President and Group Director," what role they had in helping their client with the content, he told me that he just passed on to me what the client had sent to them. . . I proceeded to spend the next half hour telling the show dog, who's title was EVP of Sales how he should change the deck to catch an analyst's (and prospect's) attention. Hey, wait a minute, isn't that the job of the AR firm?
Let's face it, analyst interactions are fundamentally sales enablement opportunities. The whole idea of talking to analysts is to get them talking about the start-up to potential buyers. PR/AR firms should be doing more as sales enablers to be sure that their clients are all tee'd up with solid slide decks, Web sites, and so forth BEFORE they talk to the analysts. I realize that their clients may not be paying them to look at their decks, but come on; the agency's reputation is really what's at stake here. I may not remember the names of the start-up in a month, but I won't forget the name of this agency that abjectly failed to act in the best interests of this client.