If you operate in the tech sector, Analysts could be a key route to better understanding your customers, your competitive position and ultimately can help inform you wider B2B marketing strategy.
But the world of Analyst Relations can feel like a dark art to those on the outside. Who are they? How can they help me? How do I engage with and influence them? So I caught up with Caroline Dennington, Founder of Dennington AR, a boutique analyst relations consultancy and a strategic partner of Seeblue Marketing.
Caroline has 20 years’ experience in building strategic analyst programs that help technology vendors to build meaningful relationships and engage creatively with industry influencers.
Helen: Whenever we kickoff any marketing strategy or campaign we always start by discussing the objectives and I know this is no different. So, Caroline, when it comes to analysts, what can they typically help a business with?
Caroline: Typically, an analyst is engaged with a vendor to help them validate their thoughts. Now, that could be the product strategy. It could be the messaging; it could be the sales strategy. It could even be the partner ecosystem. There are very good analysts out there who can specialise across all those disciplines. But ultimately the analysts are a source of insight, guidance, and trust, to help a vendor grow their business, grow that product set, and get to the buyer. That is really what the analyst understands. The market, trends, buyers needs and their objectives.
Helen: People typically understand what a PR campaign is but less so an AR programme. Can you tell us a bit more about what one looks like?
Caroline: Yes, there are different kinds of programmes, and different types of Analysts too. Everybody knows Gartner, Forrester and IDC, some of the larger organisations, and they are very good when it comes to end user engagement because that is principally where they get their revenue from. Whereas other organisations or individuals may be more market research driven, sector focused or have a geographic expertise.
There isn’t a one size fits all. You need to look at the programme from day one and think to yourself, what is our objective? Do we want media mindshare, or do we want to elevate our brand? Do we want to get into certain research documents where we may be aiming for a top right placement? Or do we simply want to improve our website? There are many analysts out there who are very credible on the go to market side who can really help with messaging and structure and educate salespeople on the language of the buyer.
From day one, when the programme is put into place, there should be very clear KPI measurements put in place and then you can analyse that on a bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly basis to see whether you are hitting those targets.
The last thing I’d point out here because people often ask me, is that journalists and analysts are very different. In briefing an analyst you won’t necessarily get coverage, so just ensure you are really clear on your goals and KPIs.
Helen: Lots of scaling technology business typically keep their internal teams lean and efficient, can this impact the success of a programme? What is required from the vendor to really make it work for them?
Caroline: I think it’s like anything in life, you will see rewards based on the level of effort put in. Analysts are extremely busy people; they’ve got a lot of information to process. So being top of mind with them is important. And there are a few ways to do that.
You do need to invest your time to regularly brief analysts and to really engage in deep conversation which is where you can gain some amazing insights.
The other thing is commitment. If you can’t give this, I would probably say don’t enter into a programme because you won’t succeed.
And the other thing I always say to people is you ask for something or if you promise something, follow up. I see a lot of programmes where a huge amount of work is put into preparing for an engagement and then you have the engagement itself and then it stops, and that’s a waste of time really, because the analyst will move on.
Lastly the credibility of the information that you share is so important, never lie to an analyst, they’re smart people. You really must have evidence. Having a customer tell your story for you, is far more credible than telling it directly.
Helen: So assuming that you do have the time and the commitment is there, how does a vendor know when the right time to engage is?
Caroline: It is different for every organisation. I’ve spoken to companies who are at a very early stage, maybe two or three people and I said to them, you don’t need a full programme at this time.
But if you’ve got something that you think is slightly different and then have a chat with an analyst, because they will give you honest guidance and tell you whether this is something new. They’re seeing so many things all the time. Think of it as a little bit of a sanity check just to see if you do have something special. And the great thing is, if it is, they will soon tell you and then they want to engage with you further.