“It was Take Your Kid to Work Day,” the clearly beleaguered child complains to her friends in a recent “Got Milk?” TV commercial that parodies grown-ups grumbling after work over beers at the local watering hole. “My dad’s a research analyst,” she continues, with an award-winning eye roll. “You fill in the blanks.”
I wonder how many of you fully appreciate what the job of an industry research analyst is, and more importantly, why your technology firm should even care. You may have dealt with research analysts at a previous employer and struggled to get their attention or acknowledgment. Perhaps you are in the camp that believes that Information Communications and Technology (ICT) industry analysts are “pay to play,” and that only the largest vendors with the biggest pocketbooks can afford to get glowing analyst references and be positioned at the top of whatever wave or quadrant they will publish next. Or you may think your early-stage company isn’t ready yet to engage with research analysts because you’ve got higher priorities like gaining traction in a competitive market space.
Filling in the Blanks About Research Analysts
Let’s clear up a few things about industry research analysts and rethink what it means for you to partner with them to raise awareness of your product’s positioning in the market. This requires a quick list of the key characteristics of a good research analyst:
- Excels at gathering and processing large volumes of data. When it comes to technology vendors, this data includes features, functions, architectures, price points, unique selling points use cases, customer references, APIs and other integrations, revenue forecasts, and much, much more. And that’s for every vendor. In every space they serve.
- Publishes regularly. A lot of an analyst’s time is spent writing research, because, after all, what good is all of that information about vendors if it can’t be shared with clients. Most research analyst firms drive significant revenues from offering subscriptions to their published research, and the more content on the subscription channel, the more valuable to those paying customers.
- Talks to clients. This is both clients on the “buy” side who are seeking help deciding how to invest their IT budgets on the best solutions for their needs, and their “sell” side clients who want input in how to strengthen their differentiated value proposition.
Why Engage the Analysts?
ICT research analysts are undeniable influencers on technology buyers.
In the age where endless information is available at our fingertips, buyers — both consumers and enterprise buyers — conduct self-driven research into products and are more than halfway through the buying process before they make first contact with a vendor. Research analysts are significant influencers in the evaluation process. A big part of their day is responding to questions about vendor products to their IT buyer clients. More than 60% of Gartner’s 2013 revenue came from the “buy” side, advising IT buyer clients who are evaluating vendor solutions among an often-overwhelming number of choices. Your enterprise prospects will conduct due diligence on you and your competition, and consulting with research analysts will be a likely part of that process. You will want those analysts to have at least heard of you.
Your firm can’t just buy a position in a research analyst’s leaders’ circle.
Smaller vendors might believe this when some of technology’s biggest names, presumably with cash to spend on all kinds of PR and marketing, appear and reappear as leaders in multiple analyst rankings. “Pay for play” accusations are raised in court repeatedly, but these cases often fail because leading analysts can demonstrate, in excruciating detail, their information gathering and analytical process for evaluating vendor data. As a whole, analysts are a particular species who crave information and excel at organizing and ranking that information in neat, tidy boxes. So, if you can make them aware of you, they will give deserved consideration alongside all others in the space. There are numerous ways for a small technology firm to engage with analysts in a cost-effective manner that raise awareness and lay the groundwork for being ranked in a segment.
Research analysts crave information and proof points about how vendors have solved business problems.
Remember that earlier statistic: that more than half of their business is from buyers asking for guidance on how to invest the budgets to solve a particular problem they have with a process, with people, or with technology. When you have an opportunity to brief an analyst, don’t make the same mistakes that countless vendors have made before you. Don’t spend a lot of time telling the analyst about the overall market conditions (he or she talks to more people in the space than you do, and they know this cold). Don’t take a deep dive into your Agile methodology. And don’t read them the resumes of the panel of PhDs on your staff. Do tell them how you compare to your competition (don’t be afraid to mention them; the analysts KNOW your competition). Do create your own map of where you are positioned relative to competitors. Do tell them about your customers, and better yet, have your customers talk to them about you (your customers are probably their clients on the “buy” side.)
Last but not least, don’t forget the basics.
Be professional and ensure your materials, both written and verbal, are of top quality. (Here’s a great blog, straight from the analyst source, of tips and tricks for impressive briefings.) Leave the analysts with information about your company, your product and your staff that they can store in their repositories and easily retrieve. Of course, send them your briefing materials in advance, and follow up with more information that arises during the briefing. Let them know how to find out more about you.
How to Engage with Them
There are numerous ways for a vendor to engage with research analysts, and I would recommend that if you’re a vendor who has a product in commercial use that is delivering value to a client, it’s not too early to tell your story. There are many ways to engage, from vendor briefings to analyst inquiries to research subscriptions to investing in strategy days and more. Take some time from your busy schedules to engage with them because of the reach they have into your market. In nearly every case, they’ll take time from their busy schedules to hear from you at least once. Make an impact and make them remember you.
Katzcy Can Help
The Katzcy team has extensive experience and relationships with leading industry analysts in firms like 451 Research, Forrester, Gartner, IDC, IHS Markit, and others. Contact us today to come up with the best plan for you to engage with research analysts and begin your journey with these market influencers.
If you’d like to see the “Got Milk?” commercial, click here. Note that Katzcy and its employees are not affiliated in any way with the National Milk Council.