Analyst Relations – it’s an essential part of communications and business development strategy for some, but a mystery to others. Analyst Relations (AR) isn’t wizardry, it’s smart.
Most CMOs I speak to are looking for effective ways to shape business strategy through specific insights. PR and integrated communications are key to this, but industry analysts also play a critical role.
Who are they?
Analyst firms make money by selling insights from individual specialists who have deep market knowledge. Unlike most media, these analysts each focus on a relatively narrow segment of the technology or industry market, and they therefore invest heavily in understanding everything about their specific coverage area. That includes knowing who the major vendors are, who is disrupting the market, and what to expect from the future. They’ll understand vendor portfolios and routes to market. And, very critically, they know what customers really need from vendors and how those needs compare and contrast with what vendors are actually offering.
On top of this, analysts have close connections in the investor community and government, and many speak to media on a day-to-day basis, which is why you’ll often see analyst comments included within media articles.
What value do industry analysts offer?
With deep connections across your customer community and business ecosystem, working with Industry Analysts allows you to:
- Add weight to your messages: If analysts know, understand and buy-in to your story, you’re more likely to be top of mind when they’re speaking to your customers or prospects, to the media, your competitors, investors etc. etc. As independent third parties, the views they share about you carry a lot of weight. To reflect this, our own research has consistently shown that CMOs want to increase the amount of independent opinion from analysts in their marketing content.
- Feedback to the business: Educating analysts about your existing and future capabilities keeps them in the know, but also offers opportunity for them to feedback on your story. That feedback can be used by your business to inform or adjust business and product planning. It’s a genuine chance to escape the echo-chamber of your own company and see it from the outside in.
- Identify industry insights: Analysts will often share valuable insights based on the conversations they have and the research they conduct. These golden nuggets of information can offer business-changing insights which you hadn’t previously considered.
- Influence customer decision-making: Some firms have close connections with your customer and prospect base. They advise customers and publish research which defines vendor long and shortlisting processes, and also final selection decisions. How analysts represent you in these consulting engagements and through research can have a huge impact on your bottom line.
Is AR right for me?
If you operate in the tech space, or in verticals including energy, retail, healthcare and education, Analyst Relations should be an important consideration for you. It’s a strategic function which will deliver returns and also inform your marketing and PR strategy.
Analysts know and speak to your community. If you’re not speaking to them, it’s safe to assume your competitors are, and that would put you at a disadvantage.
OK, I believe you, so which firms are important?
Vendors will often ask me this question, and there really isn’t a silver bullet answer. I’d need to understand your goals and business before advising on which firms and individual analysts should be prioritised.
Gartner, Forrester and IDC are the ‘mega firms’ of the analyst world, and absolutely need to be part of any AR program. There are also a number of challenger firms and sector specialists including 451 Research, Ovum, Canalys and Frost & Sullivan. Boutique firms and individuals like CCS Insight, RedMonk, Freeform Dynamics and TECHnalysis Research also offer some exceptional insights – these smaller firms often have analysts who focus on broader cross-sections of the industry which can give them a great understanding of the ‘bigger picture’. Most AR strategies should include a mix of larger firms, mid-sized firms and boutiques.
What are the first steps?
Really understanding what you want to achieve is key. There are lots of ways to regularly speak to and engage analysts without having a paid relationship in place. Commercial agreements can build these relationships further by getting analysts directly involved in shaping your product and business strategy, as well as arming you with third party content to use as sales and marketing collateral.
It all starts with a conversation though, so if you’re interested to know how Analyst Relations could best work for you, please drop me a note at any time – email@example.com.