While communications strategies have changed dramatically over the years, industry analysts remain an important part of a technology company’s marketing mix. Analysts provide a third-party view of a company’s innovation and approach to their respective market. Since they are close to technology buyers, they understand how vendor marketing messages will resonate with buyers. Highwire PR offers advice on the very latest technology analyst relations best practices, based on our work for clients and a conversation with Beth Hespe, Corporate Communications Manager at Ixia, a seasoned pro with her hands in both AR and PR.
Consider the Full Analyst World
When the topic of analyst relations comes up in conversations, the first names mentioned are always Gartner and Forrester. Both of these firms can be considered industry behemoths as they undoubtedly have the greatest mindshare across nearly every vertical. Businesses end-user organizations leverage these firms for their unmatched industry visibility and deep-rooted strategic market understanding. Gartner analysts alone take up to 250,000 client inquiries every year.
A contract buys you direct feedback on customer pain points and product needs and have an analyst as your advocate to recommend your product to potential buyers. As it relates to overall market understanding, Gartner’s annual Magic Quadrant Report and Forrester’s annual Wave Report are touted as industry gold standards. Finding your way into the correct quadrant of one of these reports can do wonders for your business.
At the same time, while Gartner and IDC both can provide a significant amount of value to organizations, they should only be part of a company’s analyst relations mix. Before solidifying marketing budgets, startups and established companies alike should consider additional firms, many with specific industry expertise, that can help guide their marketing efforts.
IDC is unique in providing market sizing data. 451 Group and Enterprise Strategy Group are known for investigating the intersection of different emerging technology areas. Within security, market-specific firms such as Securosis have their pulse on the specific needs of IT security buyers. Seemingly obvious but often forgotten, the benefits of smaller firms are more direct access to the analysts for inquiry calls, and — what we consider to be the biggest value add — media influencer and PR support. Analysts are often willing to provide a quote for a press release or speak to the media about the benefits of your new product release. It’s not uncommon to see them quoted in trade press.
Don’t Forget the Basics
Beth Hespe at Ixia notes a few important best practices for ongoing analyst relations programs:
- Planning & Coordination – Build in the time to target and secure your analysts, brief them and work with them. And make sure they’re available – nothing is worse than having your analyst on vacation during your launch and unavailable for interviews.
- Leverage Your Efficiencies – Leverage efficiencies by scheduling campaigns in conjunction with a high profile industry event when target media, analysts and potential customers are in one place and at one time.
- Consider Providing Customer Access – Consider customers and whether they’re available. Getting your customers together with your analysts and then as press references can provide extra validation that your campaign needs.
Marry AR, PR and Marketing
Hespe also notes how an analyst relations program can impact PR and marketing, and she challenges herself to find ways to integrate the efforts, leveraging analysts for more than just their traditionally thought of services. She uses them for quotes, supporting documents like white papers and blogs, events such as webinars and roundtables, large-scale surveys, and social support such as Twitter Q&A’s or videos. While some of these can be a substantial investment, you can leverage one analyst or firm to bundle your packages and ultimately save money.
At most organizations, those managing analyst relations and public relations often find themselves working under the same larger marketing umbrella; however, there are instances when these two teams operate in silos, with little contact. As the media landscape evolves, journalists’ and analysts’ roles increasingly meld together and the need for PR and AR to work in tandem becomes imperative. Especially as analysts roles morph into what can be considered “journ-analysts”(a type of influencer) who share their own opinions over Twitter or contribute articles to media outlets on a regular basis.
A truly successful marketing and communications program will bring forth strategic elements from both traditional PR and AR initiatives. If you’re not sure where to start, your PR firm often has insight and past experience to guide you.