Industry analyst relations are a vital part of many client engagements at Schwartz MSL.
Distinct from financial analysts, who impart investment advice, industry analyst firms like Gartner, Forrester and IDC – and dozens more like Yankee, EMA, Frost & Sullivan and Ovum – have a big impact on our clients. In fact, at one time or another, most of our clients enter into paid relationships with one, or more, of these firms. Here’s why:
- Analysts influence technology purchasing decisions – Studies suggest that the top industry analyst firms influence between 40 – 60% of commercial technology sales. Whether its research into market size and the competitive landscape or paid advice to inform IT purchasing decisions, suggest strategic partnerships and steer product development, companies spend millions each year on industry analyst firms.
Analyst reports like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and Forrester Wave reports are among the most influential sales tools on the planet. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search on “Leaders Quadrant” and the press release headlines that emerge will reveal how much tech’s biggest names covet being on Gartner’s short list of “upper right” vendors where exceptional “ability to execute” and “completeness of vision” collide.
- Analysts can provide valuable feedback and a reality check – You don’t need to be a paying client to secure an introductory industry analyst briefing. In fact, briefing the analyst community – under NDA if necessary – can provide valuable feedback before you go to market with a new product. They’ll let you know if you’re drinking the Kool-Aid, or truly on the verge of a technology breakthrough. Analysts are typically sharp, steeped in your industry and have been briefed by the competition. They have a perspective that is worth hearing. If they are impressed, they can be valuable references and validators for the media down the road. If not, they will often tell you so.
In many cases, the biggest value an analyst firm can provide a start-up is through unvarnished perspective on the competition, the desirability and uniqueness of your vision/product, and often strategic advice on target customers and partners. Perspective on market trends you should be following is another bonus.
- Analysts can provide the halo effect of credible, third-party validation – They can be hired to help create content and research on your behalf, they blog, and are frequently quoted in the media. People listen to their opinions. If you have a stand-out product in your market, it makes sense to let this influential community know about it. Analysts can also be a part of the PR mix – by providing references for the media, press release quotes (policies vary) and positive coverage in their research reports. They can also join you on panels at industry events and several firms are known to give out industry awards.
Other things to consider when engaging with industry analysts:
- Once briefed, update them regularly – Create a quarterly newsletter geared towards industry analysts covering your company, technology and market sector. Schwartz MSL has created many varieties of analyst newsletter, including video analyst updates. Areas to focus on include recent company news, stand-out media coverage, infographics, ROI-driven customer case studies, executive Q&A’s focused on industry trends and predictions for the future, awards received, and a round-up of industry events you’ll be participating in.
- Understand what they’re thinking – Social media provides a window into what analysts are thinking, what topics interest them most, their research agenda, upcoming webinars and events they’ll be participating in. Before briefing or otherwise engaging with an industry analyst you’re trying to influence, it pays to not only review their most recent research but also follow their blog and Twitter feed, and research where they’ve been quoted in press releases or the press. Some analyst sites, like Gartner.com, enable you to set automated alerts on relevant topics and analysts.
- Don’t forget the smaller, niche or specialty firms – Gartner, Forrester and IDC are the big firms on the block, but there are numerous specialty firms with influence and deep industry expertise, like Chilmark Research, who are focused solely on the healthcare IT market.
Posted by Doug Russell on November 14, 2012 at 2:47 PM