Influence the Influencers – The Importance of Analyst Relations
As a vendor, building a relationship with analyst firms is extremely important. These firms employ thousands of experts who interact with your potential customers on a very regular basis. These potential customers trust the analysts to be their one-stop-shop for providing information about the most suitable products and services. There are many vendors who believe analyst firms are “pay-to-play” and biased to those vendors who spend the most money with them. From my experience, this is mostly untrue. In fact, the top analyst firms have checks and balances in place to monitor the ethical conduct of the analysts and address any question of accuracy and integrity.
The vendors who strategically leverage analyst firms, such as Gartner or Forrester, are essentially building a two way relationship where the vendor briefs and educates the analysts on the company and products, but also employs the analyst’s market knowledge to have impact on their business. Consequently, the products the analysts understand best are the products they are going to suggest. Analysts will put their name on something they trust. This makes perfect sense. You wouldn’t recommend something you knew nothing about to a friend if, would you?
As mentioned above, your potential clients are looking to analysts to recommend solutions that will address whatever problem they are having. It’s best to make sure the analysts know you not only exist, but that you are a viable player in your marketspace. If they know this and you have proven you are a serious competitor, you will reap the benefits.
Build Awareness: Analysts not only influence their clients, but they influence the media as well. You will find Gartner, Forrester and IDC regularly quoted in articles. These firms put out several research reports each year that are used by both clients and the media. The more exposure the analysts have to your products and services and the more you engage them in your business decisions, the more likely you will be mentioned.
Impact on Buying Decision: When an organization has a major IT project, they are going to look to analyst firms because they are an independent, informed third party. Your potential customers view analysts as their trusted advisors and they have a major influence on buying decisions.
Differentiate from the Competition: Analysts are going to have inside information about your competitors. Although they don’t cross any lines and share confidential information, they will guide you toward differentiating your product. They are regularly interacting with their “end-user” clients and their “vendor” clients. Guidance based on what “end-user” clients want and need along with what your competition offer is invaluable.
Extension of your Team: Initially the analyst relations function will be that of marketing and PR, but moving beyond this is important in order to make the most of your relationship. Analysts can be utilized as an extension of your organization’s leadership team. They can be leveraged as you make strategic M&A decisions, in roadmap development, pricing and so on.
There is certainly a maturity curve when it comes to Analyst Relations. Perhaps you are just entering the curve and trying to understand the value AR can bring to your organization or you may have an established AR strategy that is allowing you to see impact throughout your business. Regardless of the stage of maturity, remember that most of the information analysts gather is from client inquiries and vendor briefings. Vendors can assume that analysts will not reach out to them for updates and that investing enough to remain relevant and on the radar is essential.
If you have any questions about how to better integrate Analyst Relations into your business, reach out and let’s chat.