Torsten Sewing: Targeting the right analysts

Before you put your Analyst Relations program into practice, you will need to define your goal and start targeting your resources, both within the communications department and in the rest of the business. AR is a long-term commitment of communications resources. Furthermore, the communication needed is entirely different from PR.
Understanding analysts does not only requires you to understand their area of expertise. In comparison, some journalists might be equally knowledgeable, but your PR would not admit, let alone remind them of, the faults of a former software release in communicating the new version. Analysts are different. They have long memories. And, if they find out later that your firm was less than totally honest with them, it will take years to rebuild their trust – if it can be done at all. So its important to build the right relationships, and that means knowing the right things to say to the right people.

Focus on your customers

Your work is focused on influencing situations in which the most powerful analysts discuss products and services in your area. Your aim is to have them praise your solutions to your customers and potential customers, relative to your competitors. So, one of the biggest mistakes is to go straight to the analyst houses that have a business model built around offering dedicated services to vendors, such as writing white papers for marketing and advising yourself and your competitors on future market opportunities. With them, it is easy to set up a meeting and to get a positive reaction despite their limited influence on customers – easy to measure and leading to quick but ineffective “results” of your AR.
Instead of focusing on these “vendor-facing” analysts, you might rather focus on the “user-facing”; the analysts whose clients are your clients. They may be ones that have made it difficult for you or your competitors in the past, because their loyalty is to end-users of your technology solutions. Briefing them well requires to supplement the existing marketing collateral with information specifically focused to the target group. At the same time, you need to be aware that you cannot control what they write (or even monitor what they will say) about your products and your company. Often, they have built long-standing relationships to some buyers – something that should be relevant to you in learning through the analyst what the buyer needs.

Profiling and targeting the analysts

You need to find the analysts that are relevant and thus cater for all analysts in your industry segments – knowing that some of your time will be wasted. You need a profiling of analysts in order to identify the relevant ones and to influence these with the resources you have.

  1. Firstly, you need biographies of the analysts, not just about who they are but more importantly to say what they think about your market and your solution. Second, you need to rank each analyst, ideally by giving them scores, to quantify their individual influence on sales, market opinion and the insight they bring to your firm.
  2. These profiles and databases need to be updated from time to time. A new strategy, Mergers and Acquisitions, growth, new product lines – there are always changes in your company some of which mean that you should reach out in different directions to the analyst community. You need to identify newly influential analysts continuously to provide them with the appropriate information. This requires assessing each analyst’s value, based on their interest and knowledge of your products, their influence and exposure towards potential buyers, and their accessibility.
  3. Consultancies offer attitude surveys and perception audits by contacting analysts on your behalf – and can evaluate these perceptions as third parties. This data provides a second opinion on the analysts in your database and grows it according to your needs – with regular updates included.
  4. Moreover, your firms’ media experience allows you to ensure that AR strengthens your profile within your company as well as towards journalists. Highly relevant to PR, you can work with consultants where needed to profile analysts according to their relationship to journalists. Some analysts are quoted in press releases of other vendors. You can evaluate the impact these statements have in the media and thereby to the buyer. Furthermore, I find it even more important to analyze how often and in which context analysts are quoted in the media. That should be part of part of the “share of voice” analysis.

Torsten Sewing