Many moons ago, when I started out in B2B Analyst Relations, I had much less of an idea of the potential commercial impact any analyst or their firm can have on entire industry sectors, and meaningfully, what industry analysts do with their time when not on calls with clients.
I had this thought this week, as I was pulling some introductory Analyst Relations material. I very quickly learnt the rush of discovery, and thrill I got when an analyst responded to me, when I started expanding my own role in B2B tech PR to take on more tech analyst outreach. Heady times those were!
Once you get to know them, certain tech analysts are lovely. Some are very handsomely paid, and love it when you remind them that their time is valuable. Some don't mind that you are effectively contacting them out of the blue, and aren't an in-house AR representative, it all really depends. Getting an answer, just like media relations, can be tough and sometimes unfulfilling. That's life.
My point is that aside from needing to be an AR specialist, to really ‘get’ what it is that analysts need from your clients, I've come to really appreciate any 'debunking' of the great mysteries of RoI when it comes to proving AR's worth. If you're newer to analyst engagement strategy, how do you ascertain how much effort may be required to get an analyst to answer your in-bound inquiry?
This is why I love the IIAR's recent 'Tragic Quadrant' analysis, where they rank (see below diagram) how much Impact, Relevance, and the Ease of Interaction there is when dealing with certain tech analyst firms. It's fascinating, especially the verbatim feedback that's been shared via the more than 100 AR firms and my peers.
The insights within, compiled from qualitative survey feedback as part of the 2016 IIAR Analyst of the Year Survey, help to dispel some of the myths that exist within the AR and B2B PR industry. At CCgroup we take an active role in providing action-based intelligence and insights on behalf of clients, some of whom really rate industry analysts as part of ongoing content marketing and Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. We also help them to be positioned well for bid support, and in the software/hardware short-listing and long-listing phases, something that's crucial to them.
My views are pretty much firmly aligned with the survey's findings:
First, the analyst firms you have the biggest spend with are very often the hardest to pin down. Several well-known IT and technology research firms put up barriers to working with them, unless you are engaged with them on a full time, commercial basis.
Second, as a grouping, analysts are in the business of balancing competing demands on their time from doing conference calls with new and potential customers, to satisfying existing customers.
As Chris Barnard, VP in Telecoms & Networking research at IDC put it very plainly to me recently: 'What I prefer in an AR relationship is ultimately a dialogue, and one that's an ongoing relationship, and not a one-time deal."
So find that balance and happy medium in briefing analysts. Not impossible, but it can be challenging as anyone engaging in their sixteenth email to confirm a Gartner briefing can attest.
Third, there is a lot of mis-information out there, including from my peers in the AR community:
"Gartner is making itself progressively harder to deal with if you are a non-paying client" - IS THIS TRUE I WONDER?
"I find IDC analysts go out of their way to be helpful and route you to the right analyst if they are not it" - SURE, BUT NOT ALL...
"Crisp Research and PAC analysts have helped me multiple times when it came to actioning an RfP" - GOOD TO KNOW!
"451 does very intelligent work with new entrants, and thinks in increasingly commercial terms, which I like." - ALSO, HELPFUL!
Analysts can provide valuable actionable feedback on your company’s current proof points, your go-to-market strategy and your future goals as a business. Just be mindful that sometimes you get what you pay for.
Some of the best advice many of my clients have received over the years has in actual fact been the direct result of working with a smaller set of quick-thinking analyst providers, who aren't always cap in hand for more cash to give out such advice.
My thanks to IIAR Board Members Ludovic Leforestier, Neil Pollock and Fabio Rocha for producing the survey, and IIAR Community Manager Maria Ashton for sharing the Tragic Quadrant slides as a memory assist! Happy to chat through any questions you have on tricky AR questions at any time on Suzannah.Archibald@ccgrouppr.com or +44(0)7432 034 301.
In producing the Tragic Quadrant what we sought to do was to rank analyst firms according to three criteria. We chose these criteria because this is what the IIAR survey asks respondents to assess: Impact: The Y axis depicts the ‘Impact’ of the industry analyst firm on the purchase decision. This also relates to their perceived credibility and capability to provide an objective opinion. Relevance: The X axis marks their ‘Relevance’ for the purchase decision. This means their capability to cover the market and their specific geographical allocation. It also includes public recognition of their presence in the market (e.g. as an expert). Interaction: The size of the bubble is ‘Interaction’. This relates to issues of communication (e.g. how easy is it to get to them and to talk to them).