By John Donnelly III, former senior vice president of global sales and marketing, Crimson Hexagon
Whether your business is an early-phase startup or has a decade of experience under its belt, a solid analyst relations program can provide great value in terms of market awareness and validation. Yet, many businesses overlook the opportunity presented by the analyst community, to their detriment. In my experience, analyst relations is a critical component of any public relations campaign. Here’s why.
Industry knowledge Crimson Hexagon is a social media analytics company. We’re in a crowded space, and it’s changing rapidly, making it a challenge to track the competitive landscape and our place in it. Analysts, however, are paid to know the markets they track. This is one of the ways that analysts can provide value to a business. While few analysts will share market intelligence for free, they can provide general observations.
To get more specific insights, you’ll want to brief target analysts early and often. Briefings offer the opportunity to inform an analyst about your business and technology. This gives an analyst a more complete picture of the market segment he’s tracking and can even inform his research agenda. That last part is important because that’s how a business builds a rapport and increases the chances of being included in industry reports.
Exposure to key audiences There are several vehicles through which an analyst delivers his research. Typically, analysts release several major research reports per year that cover market size and growth, the market penetration of specific geographic or vertical segments, and even vendor rankings. They will also write shorter analyses based on market developments throughout the year.
These reports can generate significant exposure among target audiences from prospects, to competitors, to media. Media coverage of analyst reports increases the exposure of those companies named in them. Nearly all analysts these days have blogs and active social media accounts, as well. An analyst may mention your company in reference to a report or a briefing, exposing your brand and product to an even broader audience.
Market validation As a marketer or business owner, you can toot your horn all day long, but until you can demonstrate third-party validation, your horn solo is just noise. Unless you have customers willing to join your band, analysts can fill the void. And this can be powerful.
There are countless businesses that pay for access to analysts’ market intelligence. These companies seek analysts’ recommendations and opinions about everything from potential product purchases and service providers to M&A targets and partnership candidates. In other words, analysts talk to prospects, but they can’t recommend your company or product, unless they know about it.
But informing analysts about what you’re doing so they can share that information is only half the potential value of these relationships. Once you establish a formal relationship with an analyst, you can take advantage of inquiry appointments to ask him or her questions about your market. Understanding analysts’ expertise allows you to leverage their market knowledge to improve your marketing, products and services. When you use inquiries to ask analysts pointed questions about prospects’ knowledge of your company, the conversations can highlight areas for improvement. Analysts can also shed light on keywords, phrases and other parts of your messaging likely to help your brand stand out, and you’ll learn about the emerging needs of your customers and prospects, as well.
Analyst relations in practice If I haven’t convinced you of the value of analyst relations, perhaps this will do the trick. Over the course of four months, our team at Metis arranged briefings with 13 analysts at five firms. They maintained contact with analysts and kept them apprised of company news. They made it a point to brief other analysts at the same firm who covered related or complementary segments and ensured that we were engaging with key analysts on social media.
As a result, Crimson Hexagon was included in six analyst reports on digital marketing and social media analytics. This activity and the resulting reports led to several conversations with prospects and helped us to expand into complementary markets.
Many businesses assume, incorrectly, that analysts only serve enterprise markets, or they require paid relationships to provide value, but this just isn’t true. Countless companies, Crimson Hexagon included, have benefitted from an analyst relations program. By understanding the value to be had and nurturing the analyst-vendor relationship with frequent and ongoing communications, your business can benefit from the power of analyst relations.