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What’s The Deal With Industry Analysts? (Part 1)

Too many companies (especially SMEs–small to medium-size enterprises) have either no formal analyst relations function or one that is managed by someone who is not qualified for the job. An approach like that leaves those companies unprepared for the ongoing and very competitive battles for positioning that take Analyst podering your fate.place within some industries.

How a company manages their analyst relations function can be the difference between no coverage (or much worse, negative positioning) and having the powerful endorsement for your company and products from an influential industry analyst. Sales people will tell you that a positive analyst report makes some aspects of selling so much easier.

Analyst relations professionals we know have the experience to be able to answer these and other critical questions:

  1. What are the ten deadly sins NOT to commit when working with an industry analyst firm?
  2. What are the typical characteristics of an industry analyst that will enable you to more effectively work with him or her?
  3. As a vendor, when should you be humble and when should you position yourself as an expert?
  4. Does subscribing to an analyst’s research improve coverage of your products or company?
  5. How are research briefs created and what impact can a vendor have on their content?
  6. What are the three highest-level benefits you can enjoy from an effective analyst relations approach?
  7. How can you best capitalize on industry analyst “rules of engagement?”
  8. Precisely what homework must you do before you brief an analyst?
  9. How do vision and ability to execute relate to how an analyst sees your company?
  10. During a briefing, how do CEOs, VPs of sales, PR firms and VPs of marketing impact how an analyst sees your company?

The technology sector is most familiar with industry analysts (Gartner, Forrester, Meta, etc.), You’ll find them in other markets as well, e.g. Frost & Sullivan, KLAS,  JD Powers, Jane’s (and, of course, ES Research Group).

Here’s a start: Consider the leading analyst firm that covers your industry to be the most important strategic account your company has. If you view the relationship in that way, you’re moving in the right direction.

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4 Responses

  1. I have a lot experience with this because I’ve worked both as a buyer of market research/analysis and I’ve worked as a subcontractor for the big houses (IDC, Gartner) and as an analyst in a midsize house (TBR).

    Rule 1: You must pay to play. If you’re not buying a service, you can almost guarantee that your firm will be rubbished. You must decide if you care or not. Sometimes the answer is no.

    Rule 2: Dump the buzzwords. Especially with Gartner. Ever notice how they’ve got their blackberries out when you’re briefing them. They’re playing “buzzword spotting” — a contest where the analyst who spots the most buzzwords get a free lunch. I’m serious. My source is a Gartner fellow.

    Rule 3: Custom Research is BS. You can get virtually any analyst firm to say anything you want if you’re willing to pay enough. They can slice and dice a market so that you look like a winner, even if your company is tanking.

    Rule 4: Research analysts aren’t regulated. Financial analysts have to toe the line, but research analyst firms are full of conflicts of interest. They never end up taking responsibility for recommendations that end up wasting money. (As in $ billions; e.g. Y2K)

    Rule 5: Looking smart is job #1. Analysts have the ability to form a credible opinion about anything, even things about which they know nothing whatsoever. I was a very, very good analyst.

  2. Sounds like you were, Geoffrey.

  3. Your points are well-taken. Proactive, ongoing analyst outreach isn’t an option to growing companies, it’s a necessity.

    But it’s not always necessary to invest in such a relationship, any more than it is to buy advertising in a publication with the hope of securing favorable editorial coverage. Most firms routinely invite non-clients to schedule introductory and periodic update briefings, with the tacit understanding that their clients will always receive some level of preferential treatment. Others are less diplomatic, however, typically tying coverage directly to client status or research sponsorship.

    I have a few other thoughts on the industry analyst value proposition here:
    http://www.aboutpublicrelations.net/ucmuys1.htm

  4. Thanks for your comments, Brian.

    We’re very careful at ESR to treat all sales performance improvement providers alike, whether they are subscribers to our research or not. In fact, our research people don’t know who our subscribers are.

    The bottom line: (1) subscribers are more visible to us, since the communications channels are better established (we have regular calls), and (2) as a result of knowing how we think about and perceive issues and the market, subscribers are in a better position to influence our thinking. Basically, they can speak our language.

    With that being said, any outside observer would find it difficult to tell which of the companies we cover in our research are paying customers. That’s not by accident.

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