Industry Analysts can be Influencers, Supporters or Antagonists
Industry Analysts – Love ’em or hate ’em, but ignore them at your peril
Industry Analysts range from the boutique one-man band to the behemoth Gartner. Industry Analyst firms exist to fill a gap in the market – namely providing expertise in a particular field, so decision-making becomes easier. That’s the theory anyway, the reality is somewhat more complex.
Industry Analysts spend a great deal of their time speaking to buyers and sellers of technology, which means that are speaking to your customers, prospects, competitors and then some. To provide the best advice to their customers, analysts need to cut through the BS in the market. Why is there so much BS? That’s easy, everyone has an agenda and often a different point of view. Analysts can fall in love with your company or technology and tell everyone they meet. They can also not like you personally very much and tell everyone or no one.
Insight#1 Don’t be surprised if the analyst you meet has an opinion
Industry Analysts, like their firms, come in all forms. Some have been analysts since college while others have moved from the “sell side” to become analysts. One thing that all analysts should have in common is that they all have an opinion. This often surprises the vendor folks. Vendors sometimes get confused (I know, I have been there) when it seems Analysts just didn’t accept the “facts” of the situation. Well, facts in these cases can be somewhat subjective, but the real issue is that Analysts are expected to have an opinion – that is what they get paid for. Clients expect analysts to not only provide market facts, but to have an opinion on where, when and in what direction the market is going. They want analysts to take the risk and analyze and make a recommendation based on an opinion. Don’t get caught up in facts, your job as the marketing person, is really to sway the jury. They will give you a chance to influence their opinion!
Insight#2 Identify, Tag and Bag your Analysts
If you have just been given accountability for your company’s Industry Analyst program or just started in a new company, the first thing you need to do is map out the lay of the land. Google and the Analysts websites will help you map out who are the key Analyst influencers in your space. In addition, always a good idea to ask your customers and prospects which analyst services they subscribe to and also check out your competitors’ websites too. It is essential to identify not just the analyst firm but who the individual industry analyst is that covers your space, make this personal! Once you have the list, break them down by the following tiers.
Tier-1 Analysts will be key influencers/evangelists in your market space, they can make or break a deal for you. You will want to be in contact with these folks at least every 2-3 months.
Tier-2 Analysts will be folks that occasionally write/speak about your space, but it is not the main segment they follow. Hit these guys at least every 6 months.
Tier-3 Analysts may be analysts that are high profile analysts in adjacent market segments. While they do not cover your area, it would be great if they knew at least who you are in case your name comes up.
Insight#3 Create a long-term two-way relationship
Don’t approach your analyst briefing as a press conference, a briefing should be a discussion. Sure, you can prepare some slides and a have a clear agenda, but if you figure you are going to spend the next 30 minutes or so dumping information on the analyst, the value of the interaction will be severely impacted. Don’t forget the counterpart to your discussion is a person with many things to say as well. Be flexible and seek to gain as much from the discussion as you plan to invest. Analysts can provide a wealth of (free) information to vendors in briefings, if only the vendors were prepared to listen. You can always send the slide deck later or ask for a follow up call. Analysts giving you their time are interested in your opinion too, not just in the facts that you planned to present. Be honest and provide value to the Analyst, they will tend to reciprocate and seek out your opinion and advice. Analysts are people too, and after all we do business with people.
Insight#4 How to keep the romance alive for many years to come
Create value and don’t make it all about you! Sign an NDA and tell the Analyst what you’re up to! Share stories from customers, they want to know not just what you sell, but how you do business. Generate content that will be valuable to the analysts – case studies, trend reports and opinion pieces will all have more value than 100-slide product presentations. Keep industry analysts informed with new market trends and new directions in your customer base. Since analysts are required to write reports, give presentations, facilitate workshops, they will read and learn from content you provide if you do so in a relevant manner. Make sure to utilize the analysts as a source of information and someone that can help validate your strategy and directions. Analysts are paid to have an opinion and even if you don’t like their opinion it is good to know and understand it so don’t be afraid to ask them questions and see what their opinion is. The more value you can provide each other, the stronger the relationship will be.
Insight#5 Keep up on your analysts
Make it a point to keep up with what your industry analysts are doing. Make sure you know what they are working on and what they have published. Always good to start a briefing by – “saw your latest report about… and I have something you can add to your next one…”