Yes, there’s a difference. And the difference is bigger than most people at first realize! To get effective results, you should not make the mistake of treating an Analyst Relations initiative as an extension of a PR program. Journalists are looking for a quick fix: a story they can write up as news. On the other hand, analysts are more interested in longer-term strategy, and in determining how a vendor will fit into, or disrupt, a market. Analysts need tangible proof of vendors’ claims, in terms of deals closed, or at least a pipeline, as well as wanting to understand the technology or services offered. Usually, when vendors ask PR teams, or agencies, to also start including analysts, they completely miss the point and fail to realize the true potential of working with industry analysts – because they take the wrong approach, and have the wrong expectations.
In short, effective analyst relations is about influencing the influencers: Industry analysts who are guiding business decision-makers. Analysts specialize in industries including IT, telecommunications, financial services, healthcare and energy. The biggest and still growing area is in evaluating professional and managed services – from classical outsourcing through to cloud computing, and all points in between. Analysts advise large enterprises, mid-size business and public-sector organizations. Activities range from determining strategies through to authoring requests for proposals (RFPs) and even helping buyers negotiate with providers on pricing.
The analyst advisory business is worth multiple billions of dollars per year, split roughly down the middle between earnings from end customers and vendors.
Yes to both. There are three main types of industry analyst. First, a select handful of analysts who have the power to influence deals – as a third party in a vendor selection process.
The second group of analysts – the ones who tend to make the most noise on social media –concentrate on advising vendors, working on everything from strategic positioning through to authoring “independent” white papers.
A third group of analysts tracks industry sales figures, using market data to predict future market growth and share among vendors.
The easiest thing to do is ask the customer if they’re subscribing to any analyst firm services. Some analyst advice is available free, online, and can be accessed by anyone with an interest in the subject. Usually, analysts writing these reports have been funded by sponsorship by one or more vendors – who are looking for third-party collateral to help promote their services, products and solutions. Sometimes, vendors are late to realize that an analyst has been guiding a potential customer’s hand through the entire negotiation process, working behind the scenes. But there are also tell-tale signs of analyst involvement that AR professionals know to look for.
Reports which evaluate multiple vendors on a chart or box or some kind – such as the Magic Quadrant series from dominant analyst firm Gartner, and the Wave from rival Forrester – have the highest-profile in the analyst advisory industry. But these are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the influence and reach of industry analysts.
Specialized, focused advice is most often provided by analysts to buyers in closed doors advisory sessions. The analyst firms are secretive about the details of these discussions, although Gartner does sell anonymized statistics to vendors, broken down per market segment, by the size of the enterprise asking for advice, and by the stage of the deal – ranging from initial market scoping, through shortlisting, vendor selection, and even post-deal implementation and satisfaction.
Analysts look at the market mainly on either a global or regional basis. There are also smaller, more specialized analyst firms concentrating on specific countries, and in verticals such as the public sector. The bigger firms, especially Gartner, tends to spread topic experts around the world, so that its analysts can answer inquiries from subscribers around the clock. These analysts will work together to produce reports like Forrester Waves, Gartner Magic Quadrants and the more in-depth Critical Capabilities.
The first step is to identify analysts who are covering the topic. The first step is to identify the top 15-20 from a pool of potentially hundreds of industry analysts around the world. Choosing analysts for this shortlist depends on your objectives. Usually, when getting started with a new client, we work together to look at the market, the competitive landscape, and then identify analyst firms and analysts to target.
Absolutely. As the world has globalized, so SMEs are finding the emergence of new and often unexpected competitors. Whether it’s a “me too” copy of a service that has gained a foothold in another market, or a hot new start-up that’s gaining attention for an innovative approach to solving an old problem, analysts will be aware of the competitive landscape – and therefore advising their customers. Today, “good enough” is a risky market strategy for any vendor, and if you’re not engaging with the analysts to find out – and hopefully influence – what they are saying, you are missing a trick. You may not even realize that competitors are stealing deals from under your nose – thanks to being highlighted by an industry analyst.
Straight away, if there are already analysts covering your industry, or vertical. If you’re not sure about this, then we can help you identify the tell-tale signs of analyst engagement with your customers and prospects. Also note that the actual step of engaging with industry analysts is not the first step in effective analyst relations. There is upfront preparation to be done. First you need to know which analysts (and firms) are going to be the most valuable to talk to – and that depends on what you want from an analyst firm – for example, is it exposure or advice?
The actual step of engaging with industry analysts is not the first step in effective analyst relations. There is upfront preparation to be done. First you need to know which analysts (and firms) are going to be the most valuable to talk to – and that depends on what you want from an analyst firm – for example, is it exposure or advice? Engaging also means talking to analysts from multiple firms. Vendors can fast-track the preparation phase by working with Destrier AR, as we’re experts on the analyst industry.
Many vendors do both. We run entire AR programs as well as teaming up in-house teams for projects, for example, providing scale in handling major analyst evaluation reports – which can be a big draw on resources. Every member of our team has experience in running in-house AR programs, and can bring this experience to bear for a company just starting to explore AR. This means that an effective entry-level AR program can cost less than buying an annual subscription to an analyst firm’s research.
Our advise is to handle with care. Although they may appear to be similar at first glance, PR and analyst relations are actually very different, and require a completely different approach and skill-set. Vendors engaging in what we call “PR AR” – for example, mixing in analyst briefings to fill schedules during with media tours – run the risk of doing more harm than good, and often don’t reach the right analysts, either. Effective AR requires a more structured, sustained approach, with different KPIs to a PR campaign.
By making sure you truly understand what effective AR is all about. Destrier’s affiliation to KCG, the gold standard in AR-related training, means we can offer training ranging from a masterclass for AR professionals through to an introduction to AR for marketers and executives. And don’t make the mistake of engaging your PR agency, to do what we call “PR AR”, because effective AR requires a more structured, sustained approach, with different KPIs to a PR campaign.
Many AR firms, and most PR agencies dabbling in AR will tell you AR is “very difficult” to measure, because of the discussions that go on behind closed doors between buyers and analysts. We disagree, and focus on metrics-driven AR. Since we recommend a targeted approach (and since we’re not generally so interested in the number of tweets from analysts who sit on the fringe of influence), it is actually possible to implement a metrics-based set of KPIs for any analyst relations program. Our philosophy: Unless you’ve got KPIs for your AR program, how can you expect to know what success looks like?
When you’re planning a moonshot, then it helps to make sure that you know where to find your target – and what success looks like. Our first step is to help clients determine these factors. Only then can we start working out which AR activities will deliver the best results.
This depends on what you want to achieve. And it’s less than obvious. We strongly advise against a “quick Google” to find some analysts who are active on social media – unless you’re simply looking for background noise. By and large, the rule of thumb is that the more noise the analyst makes, the less actual influence they exert on the people who sign-off big deals with vendors. Some of the most influential analysts we know haven’t ever tweeted and fly below the radar – unless you know where to look. Therefore, the question is: Are you looking to influence analysts who are advising your prospects and customers? Or do you need to completely rethink a market position, go-to-market approach and sales model? A third option is that you simply want to make some noise by ramping up the volume on social media? The analysts you’ll need to target are different for all three approaches.
Best practice in analyst relations starts by making sure you know what you’re trying to achieve, then planning it carefully. You should not expect to talk to an analyst on day three of your engagement with an agency. It can happen, but only when we’re sure that we know what success looks like – and we’ve got a plan of how to get there.
Modesty (and NDAs) prevent us from disclosing our client list, but we are happy to share case studies and examples of our achievements.
Our team members each have more than a decade’s experience in AR and in some cases, much more. Over this time, we have amassed experience in the entire gamut of AR activities – from setting up AR programs through to helping vendors to extend their firepower, through to events, working on major analyst evaluations like Gartner Magic Quadrants and Forrester Wave reports, in coaching AR professionals and providing training in AR for executives, in organizing events for analysts, in exhibiting at analyst firm events, in organizing and executing multi-continent analyst tours, through to managing escalations and resolving disputes. Over this time, we have developed solid, deep-rooted working relationships with a large number of industry analysts, who trust us to provide the professional support they need.
Our client base and experience ranges from global market leaders through to bootstrapped start-ups – many of which have subsequently been acquired. We work as part of larger, in-house AR teams; we provide behind-the-scenes advice and guidance to up-and-coming AR Managers; we organize and run analyst events for clients; we provide KCG’s gold standard analyst relations training; we support where vendors engage with analysts for a specific project, for example in benchmarking pricing, services, products and solutions; and we help clients to select and contract with analysts as guest speakers, etc.