May 3, 2015
As an entrepreneur, you fight every day to educate your buyers, investors, and the market about your product — to convey why it’s important and why it’s better than the competition. It’s possible, though, that you’ve overlooked a pivotal audience: industry analysts. At the end of the day, successfully engaging with analysts may have a greater impact on your firm’s growth than any of your other marketing efforts.
Your buyers — present and would-be — lean on analysts, such as those at Gartner Inc. and Forrester Research, for information and guidance, especially in the process of buying decisions. These analysts are responsible for covering every facet of the industries they serve. They spot trends, cover vendors, and predict the future. Everyone, from media outlets to Fortune 500 companies, regularly calls upon analysts for their independent, unbiased expertise.
If you aren’t building relationships with the right analysts, you’re at best leaving a crucial influencer under-informed and at worst depriving your firm of new opportunities.
Why You Should Form Relationships With Analysts
Even if you’re already familiar with industry analysts, you might be underestimating their value and influence in the market. Here are just a few reasons you should be engaging with them:
1. Analysts know your industry and competition. As an entrepreneur, you can become so focused on developing your product that you slip into tunnel vision. It’s important, though, to know your company’s position relative to its competitors. Because the job of the industry analyst is to gather independent market intelligence, these experts have a granular understanding of the major players in your industry. Gartner alone serves 60,000 clients. So analysts are probably familiar with what your competitors are doing well and where they’re struggling.
2. Analysts know what your customers want. Industry analysts spend lots of time talking to technology users — including your potential customers. These interactions give them unique insight into customer expectations and what people are buying, helping them predict future needs. Forming relationships with industry analysts is the best way to gain visibility into your market and make smarter decisions to guide your business’s trajectory.
3. Analysts are trusted by your prospects. Industry analysts are well-rounded, credible sources of information, and journalists, investors, and your potential customers often seek them out.
Respected publications such as The Economist, Financial Times, Adweek, WIRED, and The Wall Street Journal regularly quote Forrester analysts, and more than half of the Fortune 1000 are Gartner’s clients. If analysts are uninformed about your company, you’re missing countless opportunities to have these influential advisors speak on your behalf.
If your product makes the short list for inclusion in an RFP and the prospective corporate buyer asks analysts about your company, the analysts can only vouch for your company and product if they know you well. In fact, analysts can introduce you to prospects you never would’ve known otherwise.
4. Analysts can sharpen your go-to-market messaging. Analysts can help you refine the way you tell your story. Because they have such a sophisticated understanding of your industry, they’re in a fantastic position to help you discover and articulate what makes your offering unique.
The First Steps to Engaging With Industry Analysts
Contrary to what you might hear from naysayers, forming relationships with industry analysts isn’t a “pay to play” scenario. You pay for access to their reports, or in some cases, you can pay to commission an independent study. However, you can’t buy influence or favorable write-ups; industry analysts’ research and conclusions are their own.
If your company can afford it, it’s a wise investment to become a subscriber to one or more of these research firms. Either way, you should understand which analysts cover your space and which analysts are read by your prospects.
- Find analyst firms that cover your industry. Start with Gartner, Forrester, International Data Corp., and SiriusDecisions. These firms arguably have the best combination of wide coverage and high influence. If you find reports that speak to your buyers’ pain points, zero in to identify which analysts regularly cover those topics. If you don’t find research aimed at your market, expand your search to the dozens of other analyst firms that have more specialized audiences.
- Read what analysts write to understand their interests. Even if you don’t have a subscription, you can typically view summaries of the reports. Next, look for blog posts, webinars, social media updates, slideshows, and other content in the public domain.
- Start a conversation. You don’t need a subscription to do a briefing for an analyst. They’re intellectually curious people, and they’re constantly on the lookout for the type of information only you can provide. Analysts often speak at conferences and industry events — those can be great opportunities to approach an analyst in person and create a connection.
No matter what industry you’re in, it’s critical to know the right analysts — especially those who talk to your customers and competitors. Look behind the scenes of any major corporate strategy or news story around technology, and you’ll find the influence of industry analysts. If your company has something truly unique to offer your industry, those analysts could be telling your story. If they’re not, you’re missing out on a major opportunity.
Image Credit: Kaboompics
Andrew Hsu is the co-founder and managing partner of Spotlight Analyst Relations. Spotlight connects digital agencies and technology vendors with influential industry analysts to create meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships. Find out how they make it happen here.
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