Not all analyst relations is pay-to-play – in fact, you should always ensure you have a foundational organic program in place built on frequent communication, relationship building, and research participation (more on that in a previous post). But dedicating spend to analyst relations can get you more access and value. Moving into a paid analyst program often results in improved brand perception, better analyst relationships, and broader third-party validation. It can also impact your business strategy.
Why Consider Paid Analyst Relationships?
Think about it: an analyst’s job is to take in as much data as possible about their particular focus area and create a point of view on that market. But while they are almost always open to hearing about a relevant company, they are inundated with information, and even the most interesting companies can fall to the back of analyst minds. It’s simply a matter of brain space.
That’s especially true today, when change is more frequent and there’s no longer a status quo — analysts are overwhelmed. Traditional strategies just aren’t as successful as they once were. To stay top-of-mind, you need to be in front of analysts constantly.
The best way to move the needle is more regular, transactional interactions. That means two-way conversations, content work, and consulting. When you are speaking constantly with the right people, you’re not only informing their understanding of your industry — you’re helping to define it. All of that is achieved through paid relationships.
Paid Engagements that Support Your Brand
Paid analyst engagements can range from $3K up to over $150K each, depending on the ask. For all paid content, you have input into the topic, direction, and messages you want to be included, but keep in mind that no respectable analyst firm will let you dictate results. Research is the product of these firms, and they aren’t going to jeopardize their integrity. That said, it’s in their best interest to remain neutral or positive with paid engagements, so it’s unlikely they’d ever share a negative piece of paid content.
Ongoing inquiries are the bread and butter of paid relationships. These two-way conversations can be about certain questions you have or around industry news. Unlike a briefing, where the company does all the talking, the goal of an inquiry is to get the analyst’s feedback and build rapport.
You can also pay for quotes or data excerpts to use in press releases, thought leadership pieces, or blogs. Some annual contracts include these for “free,” but many require an extra cost, as well as review from the firm’s Citations team. There are also some firms, like Gartner, that will never allow you to use a custom quote.
3. Paid Content
Another of way to leverage analysts is to pay a firm to develop content that supports your narrative, such as diving into market need for a new product you’re putting out. This can be done by repurposing existing analyst data or through custom research projects. Content can include white papers, blogs, infographics, and social media content.
4. Guest Appearances
Finally, another great option is paid personal appearances. Leveraging an analyst’s reputation and network can greatly expand the reach of your event, webinar, or video series.
Value Beyond Marketing
As marketers, when we think about analyst relations, our minds go to brand perception. But most analyst firms are built around their advisory services, and the same folks you go to for briefings can also help your company optimize roadmaps, messaging, and operations.
Partnerships range from advisory sessions, which are typically one-time engagements on a certain topic, to long-term consulting services focused on optimizing business challenges. Analysts can also be tapped to educate sales teams, provide messaging overviews to the C-suite, and optimize organizational structures.
Costs vary widely, but these kinds of sessions usually start at about $10K.
Determining Your Analyst Budget
All spend with analysts is an investment. When budget is a concern, think of it this way: to buy in to your strategy, analysts must become experts on the market within your vision for the market. Otherwise, they’ll do so from the perspective of your competitors. Costs may be significant, but there are countless expenses under the marketing umbrella with equal — or less — ROI. No other marketing activity offers the critical third-party validation that analyst content does. Analysts are experts in their industries, and their opinions directly impact the decisions of potential customers, partners, and investors.
So how much budget do you need to set aside? There’s a wide range of prices — largely dependent on the firms you’re working with. The Big Three (Gartner, Forrester, and IDC) are extremely good at what they do, and their research capabilities and brands have a lot of value. Specialist firms, on the other hand, have in depth market expertise that can offer a lot of value, like a deep dive on the total addressable market in a specific vertical. When selecting who to work with, make sure to balance firm reputation and research capabilities with your end goals.
Targeted Analyst Use Cases
Once you’ve got the spend, ensure it’s getting you where you need to go. Throwing $20K at an annual analyst contract without objectives isn’t going to be as valuable as four targeted $5K advisory sessions on specific messaging challenges. Industries are moving faster now, and a more nuanced approach is needed to stay ahead.
Consider the below examples — are any of these opportunities for your business to engage in paid analyst relations?
- Unveiling a product. You’ve designed a thought leadership campaign to lay the groundwork, but media aren’t biting.
- Contract a firm to do a market snapshot to show existing buyer behaviors and challenges that you publish ahead of the product announcement.
- Developed new messaging. You want to understand if it will resonate with customers. You have a paid contract with a firm, but aren’t sure how to proceed.
- Set up an advisory service to get the latest data on customers and message-test with industry experts.
- Lackluster sales campaign. You haven’t secured the leads you want. You know you want to leverage an analyst to attract more audiences but aren’t sure where to start.
Analyst relations is another tool in your marketer’s toolbox that can drive awareness, improve perception, and generate leads for your company. Putting spend behind analyst relations not only reaps the value of what you sow at a much faster rate — it can also impact product, sales, and overall business strategy.