Where Analyst Relations fits in the growth strategy for B2B tech companies

Analyst Relations (AR) is a communications or public relations activity in which technology companies create relationships within the industry analyst community. Well known top IT analyst firms include Gartner, Forrester, IDC, Ovum, 451 Research, and Frost & Sullivan, to name a few. Research analysts have the ear of the C-suite decision makers in enterprises across the globe and inclusion in an analyst brief or research can note hold more weight than dozens of blog posts or thousands of tweets.

In large companies, Analyst Relations (AR) is part of the corporate communications or PR team.  But start ups aren’t likely so have a whole corporate communications team so what should they do?  The key here is the “relations” part of AR.  You can’t just do a 30 minute briefing and hope for the best.  Working with AR firms means you need to develop a relationship.

Can you delegate Analyst Relations to your PR firm?

I am going to say in most cases, no, unless you have a very large experience PR Agency.  If you are a startup or early stage tech company, you likely have a very small or what we’ll call “boutique” PR agency, usually with only a handful of staff.  And in the majority of cases, they don’t have the skillset to manage AR as well as PR.  So be sure to ask if they do, and don’t ask them to handle your AR if not.

How Analysts Relations is Different from Public Relations

Admittedly, you might say that on the surface, AR and PR sort of look the same.  You have a list of known contacts who you have developed over time and who you keep updated on company news and activities.  However, the similarities pretty much stop there.

PR is largely event or topic triggered.  You reach out when there is a big story and the focus is all on that one topic.  PR is quantity based; the more media and outlets you reach the better.  Measurement is on pickup and placements and views.  You never tell the media anything you would not want published.

With AR you work with handful of analysts and they know everything about your company.  Analyst Relations are developed through regular, deep dialogs that often contain details you don’t want shared with the public but help the analyst have a true picture of your competitive stance. Analysts will give you feedback on your positioning, competitive stance, technology and product roadmap.

What Does an Analyst Relations Rep Do?

Here is what your Analyst Relations rep should be responsible for.

  • Drive analyst awareness of company offerings and expand analyst understanding of company business strategy and product offerings
  • Coordinate analyst calls and maintain the AR calendar
  • Prepare and support internal spokespeople (executive leadership, product development, operations) engaging with analysts, including creation of briefing materials, compiling presentation content and staffing calls
  • Capture notes and action items for follow up
  • Maintain AR interactions database and oversee measurement of the AR program’s impact
  • Manage and prioritize inbound requests for information including participation in research and customer references
  • Read and summarize key analyst research for broader internal consumption
  • Conduct research in analyst coverage areas, competitor investments, etc. and make recommendations for program growth
  • Coordinate with PR and marketing team on cross-functional efforts such as product news releases and company events
  • Collaborate with content marketing and demand generation teams to amplify investments in analyst research across marketing via webinars, whitepapers, e-books, podcasts, blog posts, etc.

How to get ROI on Analyst Relations

Getting ROI from your analyst relations efforts goes way beyond that all important research brief.  You should be leveraging the analyst relationship in two areas: marketing and product development.

Once you have a relationship you have to work on it.

And when I say relationship, I do mean you should consider a investing in some type of opportunity with an analyst firm.  While there has been much controversy and bandying about the idea of “pay to play” the reality is that a good analyst relationship goes well beyond being at the top of whatever chart or quadrant they put out a few times a year.  A relationship should go much deeper than that and bring a lot more benefits.

Here are some examples of opportunities for investing in a deeper relationship:

  • Sponsored research: this can be great marketing fodder for leads in addition to brand awareness. This can mean either sponsoring existing reports or commissioning a new piece of research tailored to your needs.
  • Analyst deep dive consultation: this is a short-term engagement that might last a few hours or a day where you get to ask a lot of questions and get a lot of direct feedback
  • Annual retainer: this often means access to multiple analysts in your subject area of expertise as well as access to new research. This is valuable for the product and marketing team to keep abreast of market and competitive trends.  This can also be a source of stats for sales and marketing use.

Marketing should be using every output of the relationship from quotes for press releases and materials to using key analysts as webinar guests or repurposing materials for e-books and other collateral.

Product development should proactively seek analyst input and feedback on competitive differentiations in the solution and future roadmap items.  Good analyst relations is a two way street and you need to ask questions as well as answer them.

It’s Not all About “Big Name” Analyst Firms

You should be briefing the top 3 or 4 IT or ICT big players but don’t forgot to check out niche players who focus on your technology in particular.  For example, in the telecom and mobility space check out AOTMP or Amalgam Insights, in supply chain check out Lora Cecere’s Supply Chain Insights, or in Sales Enablement check out Sirius Decisions (recently acquired by Forrester).  If you look around you can find a number of boutique analysts for our space that range from a solo expert to a few hundred employees.

Bottom line, analyst relations is something that all tech firms from startup to large public enterprise needs to invest in.

Oinkodomeo is a Sales and Marketing Digital Agency for business to business (B2B) technology, SaaS, and services companies. Oinkodomeo isn’t just another agency; we focus on building a foundation for successful, customer-centric sales and marketing.