Let’s talk about analyst relations – the often-misunderstood sibling of media relations. As with media relations, a successful analyst relations program requires honing relationships to build your company’s reputation. With media, you must have a deep understanding of industry publications and the readers they serve in order to secure coverage. With analysts, it’s the same idea – understanding the differences between each analyst firm and the content they publish will help you direct your messages to the right analysts in the industry.
Once you have your analyst relations program in place, you’re ready to get the lay of the land. We’ve broken down who you need to know and the two types of analyst content to have on your radar when working with analyst firms.
Types of Analyst Firms
You wouldn’t pitch the same story to TechCrunch as you would to EE Times, right? Choosing which analyst firm to engage with is no different. Categorizing firms can help you prioritize your relationship building and maximize the impact of your analyst program.
The Big Three
Overview: It’s likely everyone in your company knows Gartner, Forrester, and IDC. These are arguably the most influential tech analyst firms and often what people think when they hear “industry analysts.” They are tech generalists, covering a broad range of markets, verticals, and use cases – and their range (and influence) is evident by their size. (Case in point: Gartner alone has over 2,000 analysts.) They’re the firms with major market evaluations that directly impact buyer decisions, and they have the clout to influence potential and current investors (more on that below).
While they all have different missions, these three firms are often thought of as the “Tier 1s” because of their reach, influence, and evaluation sets.
- Gartner: Focused on the end user
- Forrester: Focused on individual technologies and capabilities
- IDC: Focused on market forecasting
See Them As: Major influencers
What to Know: Their expertise is broad, but not always deep. Also, paid contracts with these firms can be prohibitively expensive – but you don’t have to pay to play.
Overview: While influence is important, it’s not everything. If you want to get feedback on a product, test customer messaging, or become well known to industry changemakers, look to the “boutique” firms that hyper-focus on certain markets. The more niche analyst firms often focus on one or two specific verticals and work to understand every facet of them. And unlike the Big Three, they’re usually focused on one region versus the entire international market.
A few examples:
- ABI Research: IoT specialists
- Celent: FinTech specialists
- Hurwitz & Associates: Emerging technologies specialists
- Linley Group: Semiconductor specialists
- Structure Research: Infrastructure specialists
See Them As: In-depth experts
What to Know: Some niche players have aggressive sales strategies and may push add-ons on your spokespeople – but this isn’t unique to the Specialists. Also, Specialists’ content doesn’t get as much visibility as the Big Three, so prospective customers and investors may not read material from these firms if they aren’t already analyst clients.
The Countless Others
Overview: There are hundreds of analyst firms that cover a broad range of topics like the Big Three, but don’t have the same level of influence. Or, they may be niche but without the in-depth expertise of the Specialists. It’s still important that these firms understand what your company does, as they do speak with journalists and release reports that occasionally get media pickup. But since these firms aren’t going to move the needle for your company, you don’t necessarily need to prioritize a one-on-one analyst relationship. To maximize ROI of your program, consider including these analysts on mass communications like newsletters or webinars.
See Them As: Background players
What to Know: Don’t completely overlook these folks – especially if your competitors are speaking with them. And certainly don’t burn any bridges, since an analyst could switch firms and/or grow their influence throughout their career.
Types of Analyst Content
Though many may use the word “report” as a catch-all term for analyst content, there’s a difference between an analyst evaluation and an analyst report. A market evaluation is a culmination of research that acts as a guide to a specific market, whereas an analyst report is a much more informal piece of research put out by an industry analyst.
Evaluations are more likely to move the needle for your company’s public perception (think: the Big Three), but getting mentioned in analyst reports is valuable, too.
The purpose of an analyst evaluation is to educate the market on how technology providers are executing on their stated visions and how well they are performing against competitors. Key stakeholders, including potential and existing customers, partners, and investors, all read major evaluations. Among tech analyst firms, the evaluation sets of the Big Three – Gartner Magic Quadrant, Forrester Wave, and IDC MarketScape – are among the most referenced when it comes to customer buying decisions.
All vendors in a particular market are included in evaluations, so long as they meet the specific criteria of the report. This is true whether your company decides to participate or not. That said, it’s in your best interest to be involved so an analyst has the most accurate information, versus just including what they’ve heard about your business in the media.
If you’re wondering why your company wasn’t included in a seemingly relevant evaluation, secure the list of criteria (or reach out to the Lead Analyst for it). More often than not, you didn’t meet the qualifications. On the off chance you did, but weren’t on the analyst’s radar, congratulations! You’re now on the contact list for the next one.
Tip: The evaluation’s findings can be used for more than brand awareness (e.g. putting out a press release to announce your company’s placement). For example, you can feed observations to the product team to guide roadmaps, or share information that underscores your company’s strengths and weaknesses with sales and marketing to keep in mind for conversations with potential customers.
Analysts are constantly writing about the industries they cover, and being included in their market reports is a great way to build mindshare. Reports can cover any topic, from privacy and cybersecurity to AI and 5G, and are more flexible in format than an evaluation. Generally, an analyst report doesn’t require covering every relevant company – so it’s on you to put in the legwork and ensure you’re top of mind.
The key to being included in analyst reports is building relationships with the right analysts. That way, when they’re working on something relevant to your business, they know to reach out to you. Other reasons why you should act as a resource for key analysts:
- Analysts will grow their industry expertise with the context of your company’s offering.
- Spending time to speak with analysts directly builds rapport, leading to more opportunities for your business.
- Influential analysts often speak more frequently and favorably about companies with whom they have relationships, so you’re more likely to be mentioned in other capacities.
Tip: If you want to be included in more reports, reach out to analysts who are writing (or should be writing) about your market. Ask if you can review their research schedule for areas where your company may be able to provide input.
Let’s Get Targeted
The recipe for success with analyst relations is on par with media relations: update contacts frequently, build relationships over time and know who to target. Understanding the different types of firms and the content they create will not only help you engage with analysts more effectively, but also shed light on which firms are most important for reaching your company’s goals.