It matters less what you say than what others say about your company or product.
While marketers have been preaching this for decades, the definition of who the "others" are has varied over time. Others used to mean tier one print media outlets, news channels and industry analysts. Today, the focus is on customers, thought leaders and subject matter experts promoted through case studies, blogger posts, video testimonials, webinars, social media and customer reviews on platforms like Trustpilot.
Industry analysts are noticeably absent from today’s list.
The Technology World's Love Hate Relationship With Analysts
The technology community has always had a love-hate relationship with analysts. For many, they are seen as a necessary evil requiring costly investments in the hope of currying favor. Success is usually narrowly defined as inclusion in analyst reports and placement, preferably in the upper right corner of a magic quadrant, wave or market category vendor rating. You’ll hear many CEOs and marketers lament that analyst relations is a “more you invest, greater the odds of coverage” game.
However, that's not true.
Sure, some “analyst” firms are play for play, but seasoned marketers know who those players are just as well as customers do. Leading large and boutique analyst firms like Gartner and Wainhouse Research are in the advice and empowerment business. Gartner’s mission statement states: "We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities and build successful organizations of tomorrow." In other words, analysts are motivated when they see companies using their knowledge to achieve real success. It’s what makes them tick.
Years ago as CMO of Ariba, I developed a trusted relationship with Mickey North-Rizza, who is now with IDC. As I led Ariba’s shift from on-premises to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) while rebuilding market credibility at the same time, Mickey was my muse. We talked about positioning, acquisitions and market evolutions. She gained a richer understanding of our goals and challenges. She was instrumental in turning around the market and Wall Street’s perceptions of Ariba, which improved the stock and sales performance. To this day, I listen to Mickey.
Related Article: Struggling With MarTech? Rethink Your Agency Relationship
Jump Start Your Way to Better Analyst Relationships
If you’re a growth or early stage company you need to invest in relationship-building, but here are a few of my hacks to get a jump start on results:
Instead of your CMO conducting briefings alone, put your CEO on a plane to join the visit with analysts on their turf. Have a cup of coffee, lunch or a formal briefing and demo in a relaxed environment designed to foster a personal connection. Your CTO should also be there.
Use those conference passes — and buy more. Attend and preschedule analyst one-on-ones. Ask intelligent questions during their presentations.
Submit a steady (but not over the top) cadence of inquiry requests with relevant analysts and ask thoughtful questions about recent reports and issues facing your company.
Access to Customers
Every analyst loves to talk to customers. In inquiries and briefings offer to connect the analyst with one or two customers for an open conversation without "minders."
Related Article: Let's Revamp Analyst Reports to Reflect How Businesses Work
2 Keys to a Successful Analyst Relationship
One key to successful industry analyst relations is to set realistic goals for your program. For a recent growth-stage client the goals we set were:
- Make sure we’re in the right market category, today and within 24 months.
- Help define/confirm the compelling use cases and return on investment (ROI) metrics.
- Help define truly differentiated messaging and validate with category and GoToMarket analysts.
- Make sure relevant analyst knows us, our differentiation, and enjoys every conversation.
- Critique and engage in refining our (new) website to meet the customer experience (CX) objectives.
- Get mentions (intentionally last on the list).
The second key to success is your account executive, who is your champion within the analyst firm. You have the right to expect to work with an account executive that understands how to navigate their firm, your goals and engage with your team on:
- A detailed onboarding plan with ‘milestones’ and a prioritized initial list of analysts.
- Monthly face-to-face meetings focused on client updates, milestones and relevant upcoming research agendas.
- Proactive reminders about scheduling inquiries and briefings and help in getting the analyst to accept requests.
- Build relationships with multiple client personnel including your CEO to broaden analyst exposure and knowledge with the company.