As growth-stage technology companies begin to leverage analysts, here are some helpful tips straight from the analysts themselves. These tips offer a glimpse into the mind of this community and are intended to avoid the common challenges those new to this area often face.
What is Analyst Relations (AR)?
AR is managing relationships with analysts in your company’s industry. Analysts may work for smaller independent consulting firms or larger global research and advisory firms. They have experience working with executives at companies within your industry and have the in-depth knowledge and expertise to provide you with feedback and advice on your strategy, go-to-market plans, company roadmap, and more. It is important to note that analysts work with both technology providers and end users. Typically, analysts help influence buying decisions.
Why is AR important?
Maintaining relationships with analysts can help collect third-party perspectives on the direction of your company and help inform the decisions you and your company make to achieve business success. Analysts typically have a significant impact on influencing buying decisions, especially for enterprise businesses. Make a conscious effort to educate analysts on your solution to have a favorable opinion of it to share with clients, prospective buyers, and in their materials (reports, blog, social).
Pro Tip #1: Emphasis on both the “Analyst” and “Relations”
Avoid treating interactions with analysts as transactions. Analysts understand your ultimate objective, but the strongest relationships are symbiotic. It is best to have ongoing communication about topics of interest with an analyst, even beyond your solution set, to demonstrate investment in the partnership. This makes your relationship with an analyst more than one-sided self-promotion. Analysts also appreciate your taking an interest in their research and sharing it with your team. Some analysts, particularly those on the influencer side, will want to engage with you on social media and share your company news with their network.
Pro Tip #2: Understand the analyst’s agenda
There is a difference between financial analysts, industry analysts, and influencers. Each type of analyst focuses on different things and requires nuanced messaging. Their research mandate is also highly varied. So it’s a good idea to ask which projects an analyst is working on and their focus topics or themes. Learning about their specialized projects and subjects will prompt you to uncover new opportunities to share information and insights with them.
Pro Tip #3: Recognize that analysts are wired to search for what you are hiding
Analysts will probe to understand the industry, your business, and your position relative to your competition. Prepare and focus on current trends and your market vision. The more you can align with and present trend-centric messages instead of vendor-centric messages, the easier it is for analysts to understand your market narrative.
Pro Tip #4: Ensure cited data sources are credible and validated
Needless to say, not everything on the internet is true. Consider the sources used when citing others, which will ultimately reflect your credibility in a market and the confidence the analyst has in the relationship.
Pro Tip #5: Acknowledge that you have competition and offer access to customers
Presenting a complete view of your competitive landscape – and your place in it – will build credibility between you and an analyst. You will build trust when you give the analyst access to customers, which can help them create as complete a picture as possible. Analysts will reference and engage in the relationships they see as the most credible and the most valuable to them first.
Pro Tip #6: Keep briefings…brief
Presentations of 10 slides or fewer is ideal. Analysts understand that some concepts and areas of differentiation can be nuanced. However, the most effective messaging is pithy, and supporting data is welcome as an appendix. Always leave time for active dialogue with the analyst – this activity will be the sweet spot and provide value for both parties.
Pro Tip #7: Provide presentations and relevant materials in advance of a briefing
Waiting for the briefing to unveil new concepts and share materials limits an analyst’s ability to offer a prepared, thoughtful perspective. Briefings are most effective when they are discussions vs. presentations. Send materials several days in advance and focus on the analyst’s questions versus the materials.
Pro Tip #8: Set social media standards upfront and often
Continually reference what is shareable and what is not. For materials not directly shared, expect that analysts will take pictures of everything you present – usually for their use, but sometimes for social sharing. Quotable/Tweetable bites for sharing are valuable to analysts as it helps them reinforce their credibility.
Pro Tip #9: Offer documented Executive Summaries post-briefing/post-event
These summaries make it easier for the analyst to frame the content for their research reports and increase the chances of those messages more closely aligning with your desired positioning.
Pro Tip #10: Do not be afraid to ask analysts for something in return
Analysts appreciate when vendors cover the costs of everyone attending an event. This gesture from the vendor will often prompt them to reciprocate. Additional time brainstorming on new focus areas or problems to solve can be great ways to ask for a bit more.