If you’re a technology vendor, an industry analyst relations (AR) program can go a long way in helping you gain a better understanding and a better position in your market space. While there’s no one-size-fits-all handbook for a good AR program, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind when engaging with analysts:
Know the analyst and the firm. You’ll have the opportunity to ask an analyst for his or her background at the start of the meeting, but don’t rely on only this introduction. Doing a little homework before your first meeting with an analyst can help you better understand their research focus and anticipate any questions they might ask.
Analysts are not journalists. Many organizations are tempted to lump AR under their public relations program, but it’s good to keep in mind that engaging with analysts is not the same as engaging with reporters. Analysts have unique goals and unique influence. Unlike reporters, analysts are not looking for the story that will gain the most coverage. Analysts are interested in how a vendor arrived at point where they are, where the vendor is going in the future, and how will the vendor plan to achieve their goals. Ultimately, they want to understand the market to better advise their clients on how to gain strategic advantage.
Deliver your key takeaway early and in closing. A lot of ground can be covered in a vendor briefing, even if it’s only 30 minutes long. It’s helpful to identify the key message you’d like the analyst to know about your company, product, or update. When putting together your presentation and talking points, ask yourself: What is the main takeaway I want an analyst to remember from this meeting? Make a note of your answer and try to insert it into the beginning of the meeting and the wrap-up.
Honesty is the best policy – especially about areas of improvement. Analysts want to understand their respective market areas fully, and they’re not looking for a sales-pitch. When speaking with an analyst, be honest about concerns or areas of improvement. Recognizing these pain-points can open up an avenue for future strategic consultations, and you can use them as a guide for explaining your future product or service strategy.
Briefings should not be one-sided. The most successful briefings are those that are treated as a conversation, not a lecture. Pause frequently for questions from the analyst to make sure he or she has the understanding you’d like them to walk away with.
Don’t disrespect your competitors. Analysts understand the market space. They know the key players – their strengths and their weaknesses. It might make sense to bring up your product's advantages over a competitor’s shortcomings, but do so in a respectful manner. A professional and tactful attitude about your fellow vendors can go a long way in shaping an analyst’s impression.
Respect the analyst’s time. Everyone is pressed for time in today’s fast-paced and global business environment, and time checks are often ignored. Analyst attention is in high demand, and their schedules are often packed. Make sure to keep time during your briefing, and check in with the analyst before running past your scheduled meeting.
A final point to keep in mind: analyst relations is about building relationships – it needs year-round attention. The biggest mistake that a vendor can make in engaging with analysts is to do it only once a year. Make time for briefings or inquiries on a regular basis; it will put you top of mind when it’s time for analyst research!
Trust expert Scott Baradell is CEO and founder of Idea Grove. Idea Grove helps its clients secure trust at scale through its unique Grow With TRUST approach. Scott is an established authority on trust and editor of the online publication Trust Signals, as well as author of the upcoming book Trust Signals: Brand Building in a Post-Truth World. Idea Grove celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2020, earning honors including the 2020 Pegasus Award for Small Agency of the Year, being named a Top 200 B2B service provider by Clutch, and ranking in the top 25 tech agencies in the U.S. by O'Dwyer's. Scott has an Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America and speaks on PR and marketing topics at industry events nationwide.