an increasingly competitive technology marketplace, the strategic
relationship between industry analysts and IT companies is critical to
establishing market credibility and building mindshare.
When used effectively, analyst
relations can reinforce media campaigns, increase industry visibility,
drive thought leadership and provide objective, third-party validation of
your company’s market vision and ability to execute on its core
In short, proactive, ongoing analyst outreach isn’t an option to growing
companies, it’s a necessity. Many clients of these firms are
end-users and prospects with purchasing authority that are direct
stakeholders in the successful application of technology products or
services their companies are using everyday.
If your company doesn’t already have such a program in place, how do you
You can become a client by
investing in an annual contract with a firm, which can run from as little
as $10 - $15,000 annually for smaller boutiques catering to specific
market segments, to as much as $50,000 or more for larger firms covering
the entirety of the technology sector. Such subscriptions provide clients
with access to all primary research and, most importantly, the opportunity
to consult with key analysts covering your product or service. This
discussion typically focuses on such key business drivers as market
strategy, positioning and technology roadmaps, in some cases as part of a
half- or full-day “deep-dive” at your offices.
However, it’s not 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.
The next step to securing a productive analyst relationship is to identify
which analyst firm will be the most influential and compatible with your
key business goals. Some of the best-known, if not well-respected, firms
with a broad industry focus include Gartner Group, IDC and Forrester
Research. Other, more specialized, firms include Aberdeen Group, Current
Analysis and Frost & Sullivan. In making your selection, first
determine what kind of coverage you are seeking, toward what end.
Some firms do not fall neatly
into any one category and most of the larger analyst firms are focused on
a variety of technology products and services, from hardware and
software to systems integration and server storage. Gartner, for example,
generally takes a more qualitative approach to its research, focusing on
strategy and capabilities, and how your company or product differentiates
itself in the marketplace. IDC, in contrast, is more quantitative in
orientation, annually forecasting market growth and sizing up key
After determining which firms are the best target for your company,
identify the most appropriate analysts to engage, based both on their
established market expertise and published research. However, contacting
an analyst is not like pitching a news story to a reporter. The best route
is to present a business-centric case, rather than a simple
product-oriented discussion, with a focus on validating strategy and your
supporting roadmap to achieve it.
As such, there’s a central
role for the CEO, as much as the CTO. And don’t expect an analyst to
initiate coverage immediately. In most cases, it’s an incremental
process to build key relationships and nurture them consistently over
time, even when there may be no new corporate news to share. A regular
quarterly outreach program to stay connected to important contacts is
What do analysts seek from client and vendor briefings? Any information
that will better enable them to make purchasing recommendations to their
own clients relating to your company’s ability to identify and leverage
key industry trends for the benefit of your customers. In many cases, this
may include revenue metrics, so be prepared to provide this level of
information on a non-disclosure basis, as appropriate.
These briefings, in turn,
routinely bear fruit in the form of annual market updates which focus on
new and upcoming products and technologies, making them essential business
development and market awareness resources for vendors. Many publications
will also reach out to high-profile analysts to better gauge in what
direction industries are moving, and what companies are doing well.
Favorable commentary from an
influential analyst educated in your company’s value proposition
therefore helps validate your market strategy, building a solid business
case for your ability to execute and grow market leadership.
Through such direct and ongoing communications, site visits and briefings;
developing a strategic industry analyst relations program will better
enable your company to truly differentiate itself in the marketplace.
While they are often overlooked by emerging technology vendors, analysts
are crucial to supporting sustained business growth and market
If your goal is to validate
your company’s growth strategy and business model, then seeking and
tapping an analyst relationship is the best place to start.
Muys is a Managing Director at Strategic Communications Group,
an award-winning public relations and business development firm
based in Silver Spring, MD and Tysons Corner, VA.
He can be reached at
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