It is fair to say that analyst relations (AR) isn’t well understood – because it is a significant investment and because the founders of emerging tech companies are often unaware of AR’s value in terms of scaling their businesses by increasing awareness among prospects.
Industry analysts are key influencers who have the attention of enterprise buyers and purchase influencers. As a result, they play a meaningful role in major IT buying decisions. Unlike PR’s goals of publicity, awareness and coverage that drive sales leads, AR’s goal is influence, supporting longer-term sales activity. Built on content and data, AR conveys a deep understanding of a vendor’s value proposition.
IT Intelligence: Why Research Firms Matter
Industry research firms matter because analysts cover the market for big IT organizations, tracking companies, products, and the potential value of vendor solutions to the firms’ own clients. As new technology trends emerge, researchers are leaders in understanding and interpreting those trends, relaying that intelligence back to enterprises. The breadth and depth of analyst firm research cover an industry in a way that enterprises simply couldn’t accomplish on their own, making analysts valuable partners to corporate IT.
What’s more, analysts are the “voice of the customer” for technology buyers, conveying key customer concerns to vendors while also serving as trusted IT decision advisors. While IT “leads the purchase process,” per IDG, analyst firms also have the role of informing purchase influencers – typically line of business (LOB) managers — who are purchase gatekeepers, particularly in vertical markets. Analysts can also influence how tech buyers view their own purchases, validating a strategic direction, an architecture, or a given solution’s potential ROI.
Researchers also help “construct” new markets. They regularly evaluate emerging technologies, placing them in the context of the larger marketplace. More importantly, even if firms obtain significant revenue from vendors, the main purchasers of analyst research content are in fact the IT buyers who require analysts’ expertise and insights.
Why AR Programs Make Sense
AR is useful to emerging tech companies because it is the connection between vendors and industry analysts. In addition to speaking to the concerns of IT buyers and purchase influencers, a vendor’s relationships with the analyst community can help that company understand the competitive landscape, while enabling prospects and customers to validate their own technology choices. “Influencing the influencers” helps sway buying decisions, and analyst perspectives often support vendors in marketing, sales and critical business decisions, helping shape strategy and go-to-market plans.
In addition, AR builds credibility. Analyst coverage helps vendors be viewed as serious players, and that visibility enhances credibility. A failure to interact with analyst firms might lead researchers (and customers!) to speculate on product or company strategy issues, making a given vendor a riskier choice, whether that risk is real or perceived. And if vendors don’t build analyst relationships, analysts won’t seek their opinions nor provide a forum for evaluation.
Particularly when working within the framework of PR, AR programs needn’t be difficult or expensive. Identifying key firms, analysts and areas of coverage means that researchers can be integrated into media contact programs, establishing relationships that increase the chances of being included in vendor roundup research. Even if your company isn’t a paying client, much success can be gained from being responsive and attentive and treating analysts in the same manner as one would treat an influential journalist. This approach with target analysts will likely result in more analyst report inclusion and greater influence on future research agendas.
Driving revenue through influence is the core of AR, and in an increasingly noisy world, its impact will continue to grow. Emerging tech companies should consider it integral to long-term growth and make AR programs a high priority.