Analyst Relations: Where to start if you’re a startup
If you’re a technology company, it’s hard to ignore industry analysts. Analysts watch the market, write about it, advise prospects on solutions to include in shortlists, and guide large companies as they evaluate technologies.
Building relationships and visibility with analysts has additional challenges for startups, as they lack the AR budgets, headcount, resources, turnover, and the namecheck recognition of larger, more prominent vendors.
But startups need to realize their importance to industry analysts in the two-way street that is their market. First, analysts watch their entire market, so want to know as many vendors as possible. It’s in their interest to speak to startups, hear about market plans, strategic visions, and product roadmap ideas. So they need to know all these things about your company – what you are doing, your strategy, vision, product roadmap, and plans to deliver on all those things.
Meanwhile, the benefit to your startup of being on an analyst’s radar are multiple: they may mention you in content, namecheck you in reports, talk about you in presentations. While you may not have the revenue size or customer base required to be evaluated in a competitive report, such as a Gartner Magic Quadrant or a Forrester Wave, the analyst can namecheck you in the supporting write-up, or mention you in a range of other analyses, blog posts, social media posts, or in other reports where you can be called out as a vendor worth watching. And remember, the analysts are constantly talking with, guiding, and recommending to potential buyers, so you want them to know who you are.
So, what steps can you take to start to engage with industry analysts?
First – ensure that you are clear about what you want to communicate. There’s no point engaging with any industry analyst on any level if you aren’t clear on your vision, product roadmap, and underlying strategy to realize those goals.
By extension, be clear on who you sell to – the roles, vertical markets, and geographical markets. This clarity will help you build a target list of relevant analysts, as speaking with analysts who don’t cover your markets, products, or geographies offers little benefit to either party.
You should have the resourced to be ready for a briefing, and show you are ready to discuss what your company does, its differentiators, products, roadmap – and be ready to talk about (or at least have a good response) your revenue size, customer base, and funding. DO NOT make it a 50-slide deck describing the market in intricate detail (the analyst already knows the market, they want to see how you fit in it and plan to grow, innovate, or transform it), or ten slides on how skilled or ‘seasoned’ your management team is. You don’t need a deck to start scheduling briefings, but be sure to have one ready – and approved by all relevant team members – before you have any briefings.
Then, start to make a list of relevant industry analyst groups, which is some good old-fashioned research. Look to see which analysts are writing about your space, so some smart Google searches, check out the Analyst Relations and news pages of the largest vendors in your (i.e. the ones with the largest marketing teams) If you really don’t know where to start, drop us an email at [email protected] for our free guide: Twenty Industry Analyst Groups You Should Know About if You’re a B2B Technology Vendor.
Once you have your analyst groups, you can search by topic or market to see their reports and see the individual analysts who contributed. Start to compile a list, so you have named analysts to build relationships with, and ask to speak with those specific analysts in your briefing requests.
Next, start requesting briefings. How this is done varies from firm to firm. Some firms will take your request for a briefing by email; others also require you to complete a form – for example, here’s the link to request briefings with Gartner https://www.gartner.com/en/contact/vendor-briefings (you need to create a free Gartner account to access the briefing form) ) and this is the page to request a briefing with Forrester: https://www.forrester.com/help/analyst-briefing/.
When is a good time to approach industry analysts? Well, if you are ready to talk about strategy, roadmap, differentiators, direction, and your ability to execute, I’d say start right now. If you have anything significant looming on your corporate horizon – a new product release, a change in direction, partnerships that will differentiate you – then schedule briefings when you are ready to talk about those events.
Keen to get started and want additional information or guidance? Drop us an email, or sign up for one of our half-day Analyst Relations workshops.
A final note. Briefings are not paid for. We hear pushback from some vendors who have never worked with analysts, with phrases such as: “It’s pay for play,” or “They won’t cover us because we aren’t clients.” Those statements are not true. However, there are clear benefits to being a client of an analyst group – building relationships with market influencers, sharing strategy and roadmap, gaining the analysts’ broad yet focused perspective, and hearing their sometimes very candid feedback on your company, product, and strategy. Of course, how useful this feedback depends on how good an analyst client you are – and that’s a future blog post.