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Friday, January 22, 2021

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Technology & Manufacturing: Marketing, Web Development, E-Business

Getting the Most from Industry Analysts

By Juliann M. Grant
Global Strategic Planning and Analyst Relations

Talk to anyone in the industry who is involved with PR, and they have strong feelings about working with the analyst community. It's usually either a love or hate relationship and perspectives are typically shaped by the last interaction. However, the thing to realize about developing analyst relations is that you can receive benefits from working with analysts regardless if you subscribe to their services or not. Analysts are strong influencers in your market and can help you (or hurt you) if they don't have the information they need.

The first thing to know about analysts is that they have two sets of customers: (1) vendors who are selling technology, products or services and (2) clients who represent companies who need help selecting and evaluating products and services.

Analysts can deliver real value for vendors by:

  • Getting your company on the "recommended" vendor lists that they produce for their client base

  • Moving your company into sales cycles that were not sent out for public bid

  • Increase your company's visibility in the marketplace through inclusion in analyst-published research and press interviews

  • Shape your company's strategy by providing feedback during briefings

  • Inform your company of trends related to IT purchases, market directions, and competitor advancements

You can leverage an analyst's scope of influence by educating them about your company strategy and serving up information in a way that helps them be better analysts.

But many vendors are often apprehensive about working with analysts because they've heard horror stories about how other companies have been lambasted in a report or press article. These myths often hold truly promising organizations back from getting the immense value possible by working with the analyst community.

Let's take a look at the top 5 myths and discuss the value that analysts bring.

MYTH 1. Analysts won't meet with my company because we don't subscribe to their services.

False. As a general rule, analysts will accept briefings with any company once a year, whether you're a subscriber or not. It is in an analyst's best interest to have the widest perspective on all the vendors who participate in their "market" or "focus of research." If they only met with vendors who subscribe to services, their view of the market would be skewed. It is also important to recognize that vendors who do subscribe to services meet with their key analysts 2-4 times per year, and do get better exposure than those who do not subscribe. In all cases, make sure you have a truly compelling pitch about the significance of the market you serve and your company's role in it.

MYTH 2. Analysts are paid to write about stuff, and it's not objective.

True and False. How is it both? Well, it is true that analysts get paid for certain writing projects. It is false because their job is to maintain objectivity. White papers are a very popular service where analysts are hired to help validate a business issue and provide objectivity and credibility that a vendor could not provide on their own.

Nevertheless, most of the material published by analysts is not fee-based, and includes technology spending reports, market/technology reports, and software application reports. These reports help shape their scope of influence in the market.

MYTH 3. Everything costs money.

False. Many analysts provide online newsletters for FREE that summarize key research findings and news they are publishing for that week or month. In addition, there is usually free research available on the analyst web sites that you can download. Don't be shy about downloading the information or signing up for newsletters. Leverage what is there, like identifying which analysts are covering what markets and develop a list of key analysts you want to reach.

MYTH 4. My company is too small to be on an analyst's radar screen.

False. It is really important to be on an analyst's radar screen, no matter how small or large you are. The real issue is, "When is the right time for my company to be on the analyst radar screen?" There are implications to getting on the radar screen and they require a commitment by your company to follow through to foster positive analyst relations.

Once you brief an analyst, you are on their radar screen. From that point on, your company will be watched and evaluated based on how well you are executing on the plan you presented. So, once you start the analyst process, you need to consider the longer-term communication strategy of keeping them informed of your progress. Keep in mind that when analysts lack current information, they tend to make assumptions based on the information they have (however old) or what they've heard from other vendors and clients.

MYTH 5. Services are not geared to small to medium sized vendor companies

True, but... Small to medium sized companies have the most difficulty figuring out what value analysts can add, especially if they cannot afford their services. However, it should not stop you from briefing the analysts (see Myth 1). In addition, the analysts recognize this gap and have added services to address the needs of smaller companies. If you have a favorite analyst, talk with an account manager to see if something can be structured to fit your budget.

In conclusion, analyst services can offer your company a level of exposure and validation that you would not be able to reach on your own. Analysts can help you increase your company's market presence and effectiveness by sharing buying trends as it relates to your market, including your company in their client buying cycles, and giving you critical, objective feedback on your company strategy and messages.

Next month, 6 steps to creating an effective analyst relations program.