By Julie Tangen
A solid analyst relations strategy has long been a staple of communications programs for high-tech companies. These industry experts can make or break a product’s momentum with their research and recommendations – influencers in the true sense of the word. Score a hit with the analysts – say a prominent ranking in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant – and you’ve earned huge credibility in the market.
Getting the most out of analyst interactions – whether it’s one of the heavyweights like Gartner, IDC or Forrester or a second-tier firm that matters in your space – requires planning and attention to best practices. Analysts are a unique audience, just as the media, social media bloggers and others are, and it’s important to work with them in the right way.
In nearly 20 years of leading and executing AR programs, I’ve learned that while every analyst is different, the main objective remains the same, whether they’re with Gartner, Forrester or 451 Research: Make sure they understand your company and technology so they can accurately describe it to others. To meet this objective, it is crucial that analysts are briefed on a regular cadence and that each session is productive and valuable, for both the vendor and the analyst.
Here are five recommendations for ensuring success in analyst interactions:
Determine the most appropriate company executive for the briefing: When deciding on the best spokesperson for the meeting, consider the topic of the briefing. If it involves company momentum (funding, partnerships, customer traction, etc.) consider having the CEO on the line. If the briefing is to focus on the product, a product manager is the best fit. Keep the number of spokespeople to a maximum of two, and both should have speaking roles in the meeting.
Prepare the analyst: A briefing always goes better when the analyst has time beforehand to study up on the vendor. Typically, an analyst requests materials 24-48 hours in advance, which provides an opportunity to think through what the vendor does and prepare some questions in advance. Also essential are the names and titles of people who will be in the briefing. The analyst needs to know who is on the call and their roles in the company, while the vendor should know something about the analyst so they can gear the conversation to their interests and coverage areas.
Provide data and statistics: On the briefing, provide analysts with meaningful and relevant industry-specific information. This is especially helpful to analysts since they write comprehensive reports about a market space as a whole.
Share customer stories: Although it can be difficult to get a customer to talk, happy customers can be the best brand ambassadors. In your presentation to analysts, try to mix in implementation success stories. If your customers are wary about going on the record, you can reassure them most analysts are often fine with keeping customer stories off the record. (Be sure to check about each analyst firm’s non-disclosure agreements before sharing any sensitive information.)
Don’t forget the follow up: Many opportunities can fall by the wayside if proper follow-up is not conducted. If an analyst mentions a report that the vendor should read, make sure to read it and then send a follow-up note. If the analyst mentions that the vendor should speak with another colleague, email the contact and copy the analyst on your note. In terms of nurturing the relationship ongoing, vendors should continue to build the relationship by keeping analysts aware of news and arranging follow on briefings to take place at least once per quarter.
By keeping these five tips in mind, you should be able to build positive relationships with key analysts and enjoy the benefits of those relationships!
Julie Tangen has been building awareness and market share for enterprise technology clients for 16 years at Offleash. As vice president and general manager, she spearheads operations and HR as well as oversees strategy for analyst relations, thought leadership platforms and executive visibility platforms. Contact Julie here.