If analyst relations feels like "a lot of uphill", learn how to punch above your weight
Over the past ten years I’ve learnt what leads to analyst relations success for small technology vendors. Especially how small or ‘emerging’ technology vendors can punch above their weight with the likes of Gartner and Forrester.
But at the outset, analyst relations can seem like a "a lot of uphill". Maybe you need a guide who's done this before? Read on. Perhaps I can be your sherpa!
Analysts and emperor’s clothes
When I joined Nimbus as Head of Marketing, the CEO involved me in analyst inquiry calls and briefings. The first few calls I sat in on seemed pretty frustrating to be honest.
Many analysts seemed pompous. They delighted in using acronyms and techie speak to over complicate just about anything. (Emperor’s clothes anyone?)
On most calls it seemed we were asking questions that we already had better answers for than the analyst. What’s the point of that you might wonder? (Read about turning inquiries into influence later.)
Don’t get me wrong – even in these early days we had some notable success from our Gartner relationship. Award wins and report mentions that you can read about here: Analyst Relations success for small technology vendors
The AR Process
But turning analyst relations into a repeatable, proven process for success is something I learnt from Kevin Lucas at Forrester. Bio
In my opinion this is indicative of a cultural difference between Forrester and Gartner. Forrester want their customers to have a great experience, and extract maximum value from their Forrester relationship at the same time. And that definitely includes small and emerging technology vendors, not just the ‘big-uns’. Forrester walks the talk when it comes to “The age of the customer”.
By comparison success with Gartner seems harder for small and emerging vendors. Bigger company, more granular product sectors and therefore more analysts to speak to. And all the while - the nagging doubt that only your biggest competitors will really achieve any coverage. Success needs huge perseverance, and a proactive account manager can be a great help as well.
You need to be systematic for analyst relations success
And hence the role of Kevin; who devotes his time at Forrester to guiding AR professionals to achieve their businesses goals. He uses a learnable, repeatable process for running your analyst relations efforts, that you can apply not just to Forrester, but to your dealings with any other IT / business research and advisory company.
That model is called “FIAR” Forrester Industry Analyst Relations – and in Kevin’s own words ...
“the FIAR model addresses AR's strategic value and objectives while also providing best practices research and downloadable tools to help AR teams deliver that value”.
Boiling it down
Although FIAR is great, it is perhaps a little over engineered and can be boiled down to five simple steps –
- Agree business goals and aligned objectives for AR
- Agree KPIs and targets for AR
- Plan, budget and approve activities to meet targets
- Schedule AR activities
- Evaluate results and refine approach
Contact me to learn more about this process
Key takeaways for Analyst Relations success
I’ll be expanding on each of these topics in the near future.
Analysts are unlikely to remember your company, if all you do is briefings
When you think about it, this is common sense. You’ve probably heard of the forgetting curve.
I’ll be writing a future blog on how to use learning theory to reinforce your company in the mind of analysts.
By the way - did you know Hermann Ebbinghaus published a paper on the forgetting curve in 1885? Link
Repurpose inquiries to achieve influence
This stems from the above. You should use analyst inquiries to cement your company in the mind of analysts. Making them work to advise you. If you overlook the “learn-side” of AR, you shouldn’t be surprised if you achieve little on the “earn-side”.
If you cause analysts to think deeply about your company – for example in relation to the competitive landscape, your USPs and go to market approach, the chances are they’ll start to distinguish what sets you apart from bigger, better known competitors and remember you as an alternative.
More on learn vs. earn in a future blog.
Help analysts escape routine
There are probably one or two key analysts that you need to get close to. Find out what 'floats their boat'. A good account manager will help you do this. What does a good day look like? Probably not six back-to-back briefing calls from different vendors. If you can provide a break from routine and even an outlet for their passion, just think how much more favourably they’re likely to regard your company. Examples:
Examples below in my portfolio where you'll see how two small and emerging technology vendors have achieved great success from their analyst relations effort.
If you have any questions or suggestions for future articles on Analyst Relations, please get in touch