You might recall a previous Spotlight blog where we shared how to craft an AR annual plan and why it’s critical. We wanted to take a step back and dive a little deeper to talk about the tactical aspect of creating your annual program plan. The key mentioned in Laura’s blog is “begin with the end in mind”. Let’s dive into the must-haves before you get started, how to outline the plan using key dates, and the art of refining your plan to ensure it will serve your needs. Let’s get started!
To start your annual plan, have the following aspects identified:
- Overall Program Goals: Feeding into our insights-driven AR methodology, use analyst insights from previous interactions to understand the main themes you plan to tackle.
- Full Calendar: Have a list of dates prepared that include set and tentative plans of internal business deadlines for your team.
- Industry Events: As an AR pro, we can all identify key analyst firms and industry events where you’ll engage with analysts, attend in person or even sponsor part of the event.
- Evaluative Research: Keep in mind when that next Magic Quadrant will kick off? Check if it’s time for the next iteration of a Wave? Keeping the timeline in mind for major reports can avoid straining your internal resources.
Outline Your Annual Plan With Key Dates:
At Spotlight, we know how daunting it can be to fill out your annual plan. There is always an industry event, report, or briefing you need to manage as well as the responsibility to leverage the channel internally and serve different lines of your organization’s business. To avoid unneeded stress, identify a tool that works best for you. Is it a whiteboard? Google calendar? Excel? Whatever process works best for your team, is where you should start. Spotlight Oz includes a calendar feature where you can chart briefings and major reports all in one place.
Things To Consider When Building Your Annual Plan:
- Identify a timeline: Are you planning for a quarter, half of a year or a full 12 months?
- Plot your biggest internal initiatives and work your way backwards. Include the pre-launch communication dates and go-live dates.
- Big Budget Items: Keep in mind when your payment and allocated resources with each analyst firm is up. This will help you plan accordingly and utilize all your assets well to avoid being in a time crunch to fit in that last advisory day.
- Core versus Opportunistic: Consider your core analyst’s planned research calendar from their company website or through your respective analyst firm representatives. This can be helpful when planning future engagements to make sure you have a better chance of inclusion into key reports. (Note: This typically isn’t outlined a year in advance, so this will be a more short-term consideration.)
How To Refine Your Annual AR Plan:
- Label or group everything on your calendar based on which initiative or line of business it serves. (Note: Are you a Spotlight Oz user? Work with your client team to understand how you can label your key analyst touchpoints for ongoing reporting and learn more from key insight opportunities.)
- If your budget allows for analyst firm subscriptions, ensure that your engagements are well-rounded to not only share company updates but also learn about the analyst’s view of the market and their research on a deeper level through inquiries.
- With each engagement, identify speakers or subject matter experts to support each respective interaction.
- Allow for some flexibility, but do not lose sight of your program goals. There can be last minute scheduling conflicts or shifts in analyst availability. After meeting with an analyst, you will likely have ideas or feedback to take into consideration before moving forward with other interactions or business initiatives. Leveraging analyst insights can create a cycle of continuous objective refinement.
Once you get started, minor shifts and inputs can improve your plan over time. Keep in mind that your annual plan should be a guide, but that analyst insights and shifts in internal priorities can force strategic adjustments on the fly. Your team and the analyst community will benefit from a proactive, thoughtful approach to annual planning. If you need help building out your annual plan, contact us today!