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July 27, 2006

How to get a briefing at Forrester (specifically, with me)

I was at the AlwaysOn conference today and had a chance to meet with several old acquaintances, sit on a panel, record a few podcasts, and especially fun, hear about some new start-ups. Something I get asked quite frequently is how a company goes about getting a briefing with Forrester and I promised I'd put up a post on how to do this.

So at the risk of opening up the briefing request floodgates, here are a few details.

Requesting a briefing
By far the best way to request a briefing is to fill out the request form at www.forrester.com/briefings. The more specifics you can provide, the better -- this way, our Briefing Central team can figure out who the best analysts are for you to brief.

Some of you may think, hey, I'll just email the analyst directly. There are a couple of reasons why this isn't always a good idea. First, you're relying on the analyst to have their act together and be able to respond to your request. On average, I get between 20-30 requests a week for briefings and if they don't come from our Briefing Central team, a few are bound to slip between the inbox cracks. Second, you run the risk that you're not briefing the right analysts. For example, my colleague Brian Haven covers online video so he'll want to hear about developments in that space.

Actually getting a briefing
Now, just because you request a briefing doesn't mean you get one! And please note, you don't have to be a Forrester client to get a briefing - I accept briefings based on the merits of the request. The best way to get a briefing is be right square in the middle of an analyst's current research stream. In general, I won't take a briefing unless I plan to use the information within the next three months. And there are times when I would like to get a briefing, but my calendar is full (in which case, I usually ask for information via email). So look at my current research at Forrester, read this blog (which you're already doing), and do a search for topics I've commented on.

How to have a good briefing
One suggestion on making the most of a briefing -- I have little time and little patience for what I call "background". You can assume that I'm pretty up to speed on the space! To this end, I tend to schedule 30 minute briefings and it's worked well. It forces the company to cut to the chase and give me the most important things that I want to know, which boil down to:

- What problem are you solving?
- How do you create value for the user?
- How do you make money?
- How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
- How will you market your product/service?
- What is your vision of how the market will develop, and how will you fit into it?

And my pet peeve: companies that show up at briefings and start by saying, "So, what do you want to know?" My hope is that with the short list of questions above, you'll be well prepared to make the best use of your 30 minutes!

Disclaimer: these are thoughts are my own and other Forrester analysts will and do handle briefings in completely different ways.

Update: My friend, former Gartner analyst, and now CEO of EZBoard Rob Labatt suggested a very worthwhile addition to my list of what makes a successful briefing: "Make the analyst smarter". One commonality to what I consider great briefings is that I come out of them thinking differently. So share your vision of how the world is changing and how your company is going to make a difference.

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Comments

PaulSweeney

That's the damdest spam I've ever seen ! (above!).

Maurene Caplan Grey

Charlene... An excellent explanation of the optiminal vendor briefing. To your point, "What is your vision of how the market will develop, and how will you fit into it?" Ahead of this question, I often ask "If we were having this briefing a year from today, what would you be telling me?" I also ask: pricing model, channel model and customer demographics - helps me to properly position them in the overall market and to understand their "sweet spot."

Lastly, excessive flattery doesn't win any points. I respect a professionally delivered and interactive briefing.

- Maurene Caplan Grey (former Gartner analyst; now principal analyst with Grey Consulting.)


Alex Bukinis

Thank you very logical I should say and a right way do to it , I think in market sense we should more apply logic and operational sense, and at the same time cut less corners, to get ahead we need to folow procedures in place not to try to step over our competion by being smarter. Todayt everyone is smart , but only logical will succeed. My opinion while I am persueing my continued research on hoodia http://www.offshelf.net.

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