Navigating the new era of Analyst Relations (AR)

Image credit: iStock by Getty

From influencing service and product purchases or market investments, to providing robust analysis to guide any IT procurement decision, industry analysts remain a key influencer set for emerging or established technology businesses.

According to Gartner, 74% of the Fortune 1000 and 75% of the Global 500 support their key technology decisions with Gartner advice. Analysts continue to play an important role in the collation and dissemination of industry intelligence and impact customer, prospect and media opinion.

However, AR (much like the PR industry) is relatively young and has not been immune to shifts in culture and expectations from the paying audience. Getting the most from AR today is about understanding the new landscape and the shifting rules of engagement.

It’s fair to say that the reputation of the analyst community took something of a hit following the dot com crash. The heady days of businesses paying huge sums to get a brand or product referenced by an analyst or in a report suddenly became seen as odd. The idea that reputation should be earnt not bought took hold, as did the David and Goliath mentality.

As the tech landscape and people in it matured, the industry grew in size and complexity, it became increasingly competitive and market entrants flourished exponentially. Analysts began to be seen as out of touch and their business model out of step with the world they proclaimed to be experts on.

But the AR industry responded and has seen rise to some sexy new challengers impacting the status quo. As Wikipedia reports: “Contemporary technologies, open source licensing concepts, emerging markets, loosely federated analysts, and/or a more radical and visible emphasis on offshoring reflect the new breed of AR community”.

There are notable examples of analyst firms creating models based on social media, such as Canada’s ConneKted Minds and “open research and analysis” include RedMonk, Macehiter Ward-Dutton, Quocirca, ResearchFarm, Freeform Dynamics and Cambashi, all with offices in the UK.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based Springboard Research (now owned by Forrester) exemplifies progressive use of offshoring research and Experton exemplifies loose federations of independent analysts. CapioIT is an example of a firm focused on emerging geographic and technology markets.

These AR brands continue to challenge and shape the industry today. Technology adoption is now an increasingly bottom-up proposition; with recent successful brands building their business from the ground up by embracing open communities. We’ve seen an influx of cloud natives such as Uber and Airbnb with the ability to change their business strategy within a matter of weeks, rather than the months or years that traditionally defined the product lifecycle. Certainly quicker than it might take a traditional analyst report to be conceived, written and released.

So what does this mean for anyone thinking about or conducting a high impact AR campaign?

At 3 Monkeys we believe everything starts and ends with the power of a relationship. Treating an analyst like you would a journalist is a good starting place. Integrating AR with a PR programme will make the most of your money and yield the best results.

It’s important to make sure you have a realistic budget set aside. Strategically map out the most relevant analysts to your business. Engage early and invest time for information sharing and crafting AR focussed content. Build relationships for the long term, attend analyst events and involve them in your activities.

Here are a few AR top tips!

Be consistent and top of mind:

  • Present more than annual updates on your business
  • Include vendor briefings as part of your product release schedule
  • Present the most relevant updates, not the entire product portfolio

Focus on key objective:

  • Narrow cast your message, narrow the analyst audience
  • Speeds scheduling and improves efficacy of briefing
  • Fit into analysts agenda

Be concise:

  • Less is more — maximum of 20 slides per hour
  • Build in time for questions

I recently attended an event with Scott Morrison, Managing VP, Gartner. Scott commented: “provide content tailored to my interests, help me see change, make sure I understand your marketing approach, ask me at the end what I will say to clients”.

That sums it all up nicely.