The Benefits of a Strategic Analyst Relations Program
By Peggy Tierney Galvin, director
An analyst relations program brings a lot of potential benefits. With their experience and expertise, analysts can help validate the viability of a product or service. Their opinions as third-party experts can be used as quotes in press releases and to encourage journalists to look closer at your offering – not to mention, potential customers. They can act as a sounding board for your positioning and messaging, as well as build trust with prospects. In fact, analysts have so much sway that they influence between 40-60% of technology purchases, according to the Institute of Analyst Relations.
Since analysts have so much clout and their perspective can have such a large positive effect, the assumption among many tech leaders is the bigger the analyst firm, the bigger the impact. However, this isn’t necessarily so. Below are tips for creating a successful analyst relations function, as well as insight on why a big-name analyst firm may not be best for your company.
The nature of analyst relations
What does a successful analyst relations program look like? First, it requires an understanding of what you stand to gain and what the analyst stands to gain. For instance, you are probably eager to learn how your solution stacks up against the competition. You are hoping that it stacks up near the top and that it will be top of mind for the analyst when people ask for recommendations. You want to see mentions of your product or service in the analyst’s social media posts and blogs, and you want a good placement in their research reports.
As for analysts, they hope to add to their extensive knowledge of the vendors, technologies and solutions in their area of expertise. Staying on top of all the latest developments enables them to provide clients with sound advice and recommendations. A strong analyst relations program entails reaching out from time to time to share news about your solution, market, partner, customer and corporate developments. This goes for the blue-chip firms and the boutique ones alike. This periodic outreach keeps analysts abreast of your value proposition and where you fit into the market picture.
Finding the nexus of these two goals and desires is key.
How to begin your analyst relations journey
You’ll need a strategic approach to choose the right analyst to engage with in a paid relationship. The big-name firms offer wider validity and a larger audience, but they also come with a much bigger price tag. (Think the Forrester Research and Gartner types of the analyst world.)
If you’re a mid-sized company or a startup, a sensible course of action is to start working with
smaller analyst firms and eventually expand your AR program to include the larger firms. When you find a real analyst champion who understands what you offer and what you’re trying to do, you can get references for the press from this champion and even commission research reports.
A good showing in the better-known analyst reports can make a company’s fortunes, which means there’s a lot of competition to obtain a strong position. That’s one reason why the firms that create these reports are so expensive. Eager startups may stretch their financial resources for a paid retainer, but even that is not a guarantee of a good review. In addition, marquee firms set stringent limits on where and how their name may be used – even if you commissioned original research from them. That reduces the reach and brand recognition you are trying to achieve.
That brings us back to smaller analyst firms. They are typically more flexible and more open to collaboration. They’re also more willing to provide feedback via technology briefings, even if you don’t have a paid relationship with them.
Analyst relations is a symbiotic relationship. You get the brand awareness and credibility you need to grow your sales. Analysts get updated information on new technologies and solutions in their area of expertise. Before reaching out to analyst firms, be strategic in thinking about what’s in it for both parties. Yes, the bigger firms can be more influential, but they’re also more expensive and more competitive. We recommend starting small and increasing your investment as the situation warrants. Find a champion and build awareness first.
Not sure of your next move? We’ve worked with many clients to develop or strengthen their AR programs. Contact us to start a conversation about how we can help.