Info glut clutters marketers’ ability to reach analysts

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In an attempt to find out how industry analysts absorb information and evaluate advertising, b-to-b ad agency Doremus & Co. last fall conducted a proprietary survey titled "Life on the Street," which it will use to help its clients develop strategies to more effectively reach this influential audience.

Doremus conducted two waves of the research in August and September, with 30 to 35 analysts in each group.

One of the key findings of the survey, which has not been made public, is that advertisers must come up with creative, non-intrusive ways to communicate their messages to overburdened analysts.

"If it feels you are aggressively trying to reach them, it will backfire," said Jeff DeJoseph, chief strategic officer at Doremus, which is part of the Omnicom Group.

Surge in information

As part of the research, Doremus studied what has changed for analysts covering specific industries and companies. The most important change is the glut of information analysts must sift through every day, the survey found.

First, there are more companies to cover. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of publicly traded companies on the New York Stock Exchange grew from 1,769 to 2,824. Companies trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market grew from 4,132 to 4,734 during the 10-year period.

Also, passage in October 2000 of the Regulation Fair Disclosure Act, which requires that public companies fully disclose material data that could influence investment decisions, resulted in even more information for analysts to go through.

Analysts are voracious consumers of media, relying on general business publications, trade publications, television and Web sites for information, the survey found. Therefore, a marketer’s message must cut through this clutter.

"If you try to reach them directly with marketing information, it will most likely be tuned out," DeJoseph said. "They pride themselves on analyzing data and coming up with an objective reality."

Overheard messages

To get through to analysts, marketers need to develop an "overheard message," Doremus concluded. An overheard message is one that is not obvious but will register on analysts’ radar.

For example, knowing that many analysts keep CNBC on in the background during their working day, Doremus developed ad campaigns for clients including ITT Industries Inc. and Corning Inc. that would be effective even without sound.

"Analysts will pay attention to that," DeJoseph said. "They know that if companies are advertising and marketing aggressively to their customers, they must be doing something right."

Another strategy for developing an overheard message is to use The Wall Street Journal as an ad vehicle to reach not only a business’ target audience but also financial analysts who read the publication, DeJoseph said.

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