In pursuit of building industry visibility and leadership, businesses, especially startups, can be so focused on their desire to secure press coverage and develop media relationships, that they neglect another key element to capturing ‘share of voice’ in their respective markets: analyst relations. Having a strong industry analyst program in place can play a significant role in the success of your PR program, while providing market validation and potentially even new business leads.
Working closely with hundreds of companies in targeted industries, seasoned analysts have a good understanding of business customer needs and their buying decisions. As a result, they provide a great soundboard for testing market positioning and key messages and can advise you on the best methods for marketing your products or services. Consequently, industry analysts are in tune with the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and can help you market against them.
Below are four strategies for companies to start building strong analyst relations and ensure you reap the many benefits these relationships have to offer:
1. Identify Key Influencers
The first step in forming a successful analyst program is identifying the right contacts that follow your company’s market and line of business. Depending on the analyst group you decide to target (i.e. Gartner Group, Forrester Research Group or others), there could be multiple analysts listed under certain topics or categories; you’ll need to dive down deeper to determine their specific area of focus.
When looking at the smaller analyst firms, such as Infonetics Research, it’s pretty easy to identify one analyst, such as John Byrne, who not only covers mobile, but more specifically related to M2M and IoT. But when researching a bigger analyst firm such as Gartner, nearly 50 names appear under the topic of mobile and wireless. Take the time to look at recent reports analysts have written and/or companies they’ve covered to get a better sense of what interests them, and who (which companies) they’re following or have covered in a Gartner Magic Quadrant report, a yearly report completed by a number of analysts based on rigorous analysis and structured methodology of individual markets.
2. Schedule Briefings
Once you’ve identified the right analysts for your business, it’s important to begin to establish these relationships. Start by arranging a formal briefing for your key executive(s) to meet with the analyst in person (if possible) and give an overview of your company, products and/or services. Don’t wait for a product launch or a big announcement to do this. Make the effort upfront to get to know the analyst and at the same time give the analyst a chance to get to know you, and your business.
Industry analysts have relationships with key influencers and understand what rings loud with the media. More importantly, if you’re a startup or launching a new services or product, analysts can validate the market opportunity for your business solution and the company's execution strategy. Take this opportunity to try out your new messages and see how they resonate with the analyst community before taking it to the masses. Make sure your messages are fine tuned and presented in a polished fashion, keeping in mind that you are still forming the analyst’s impressions of your business, which may be communicated to media or potential customers.
3. Ongoing Communications
Consider the initial briefing as the beginning of an ongoing relationship and regular communications. Continue to check back and set up follow-up briefings on a quarterly basis, along with more informal conversations such as grabbing coffee at an upcoming conference. During these meetings, try to provide valuable information such as exclusive insights regarding a new customer deal or company strategy. This type of information can go a long way toward building strong analyst relations. By giving them the "inside scoop," you gain credibility and become a trusted contact. And, as long as communicated, analysts will honor non-disclosure agreements.
Share company news, blog entries or white papers as another way to keep analysts abreast of company activities and insights on your business. Connect with your analyst contacts on social media channels and acknowledge information they’re sharing.
4. Show Your Appreciation
Another way to show industry analysts how much you value their insights and customer connections is by investing in their services. While we acknowledge that not all company budgets allow for this, purchasing one of the analyst reports or offering to be an active participant in a research project shows your company’s commitment to the analyst’s knowledge and industry insight. This approach of subscribing to analyst services is not necessary to building analyst relations but can have added benefits including arming your company with valuable industry insights depending on your goals.
Developing a strong industry analyst program is not a simple, one-off process. It involves a strategic, thoughtful approach that if done correctly can have long lasting benefits. Start out small, by homing in on the top 2-3 analysts most important to your market, you'll be well on your way to creating a more complete program in the months and years to come.