Are you starting to work with analysts and you aren’t sure if you need a research contract? Read this blog to learn more.
By Canopy Communications & Marketing
Welcome to our latest Analyst Relations Clubhouse recap. If you’re new to this space, we’re glad you found us -- AR professionals have so much to learn from each other.
Every two weeks, independent analyst relations experts Beth Torrie of Torrie Communications and Wendy Shlensky of Canopy Communications & Marketing host a 45-minute Clubhouse dedicated to sharing lessons learned from the field, proven master moves, and candid commentary about the unique challenges of being an analyst relations expert. Whether you’re supporting a global enterprise, mid-size company, or start-up, read on for ways to create high-impact results using analysts, research, and business practices and ideas from the industry’s best #analystrelations professionals.
This recap is all about strategies for engaging an analyst if you don’t have a research contract in place.
Get started with the basics
There are a few reasons why you may not have a research contract in place. Perhaps the vendor you’re supporting doesn’t have the budget for it. Or maybe you’re brand new to the AR arena, coming off a career in marketing or communications and you’re just starting to build your analyst network. No matter the reason, the good news is that you have options to engage an analyst without a contract.
Whether you’re just starting in AR or a seasoned professional, education and ongoing learning are key. “UP and to the RIGHT: Strategy and Tactics of Analyst Influence” by Richard Stiennon is considered a must-read for every AR professional. It won’t make you a master, but it’s an excellent crash course in certain strategies; Beth and I both recommend revisiting it every so often to get reacquainted with the basics and sharpen your strategies (feel free to ask us about other AR educational resources).
Targeted analyst research is another essential strategy for scoring a briefing without a contract. This exercise will also help you identify which analysts are the best fit for your vendor before approaching them to request a briefing. The last thing you want is to waste an analyst’s time or risk damaging your reputation. If budget allows, subscribe to a database like ARInsights to support your contact research. This is where leadership buy-in, as always, is a must. They need to be on board with your efforts and prepared to provide support well beyond the briefing.
If your budget doesn’t allow for a database subscription, then you’ll need to commit to the raw hours it takes to build relationships via social media and your network. In your research, try to gauge where the analyst’s focus is by looking closely at the competitors they work with and what they’re posting about. This kind of sleuthing takes time and effort, but it pays off if you’re able to schedule a briefing and provide content that aligns with their research agenda.
Engage the periphery of your targeted analyst
Connecting with an analyst without a contract takes persistence and some creativity. Don’t be afraid to cast a wide net and tap into your broader network to reach them. For example, ask your executives about their past analyst connections, or connect with event account managers you’ve met on the road and even sales reps that you’re chummy with. You can also learn from the networks of your peer group -- look at who they’re connected to on LinkedIn and use them as a sounding board to confirm if an analyst is a good fit for your vendor.
Don’t overlook your trusted sales reps as they might have analyst relationships that can help you get a briefing. When it comes to relationship nurturing, the nature of sales isn’t that dissimilar from AR, so reps may be interested in doing you a favor to strengthen their relationship with you. Just make sure you’re honest in your mission and don’t lead them on for a sale you’re not trying to make.
One of the AR experts who joined our discussion offered this hot tip: subsidiaries of analyst firms, depending on their geography, often have different rules. A rep located in India, for example, might be more willing to place you in front of an analyst for a briefing. Your organization typically has to also have a location in the other geography. From my own experience, sales reps across the globe in India, the UK, Ireland, and the US all work differently.
Engage with analysts on social media
Once you’ve identified the analysts that speak to your target market and their priorities, make the effort to court them on social media.
Whether it’s Twitter or LinkedIn (Facebook is probably too personal), get familiar with their content and engage in the comments; this is an opportunity to prove yourself as an expert and give humanity to your social presence. Post commentary that will resonate with the analyst’s content and, at the same time, demonstrate your authenticity. And don’t be afraid to be witty -- it’s all about leaving an impression. That way, if you get an opportunity to schedule a briefing, the analyst will remember you fondly. Consistency is key.
Give them only what they need and when they need it
This is beating a dead horse, but AR is all about relationships. This applies to not only the analyst but also your executives and marketing team. It’s your responsibility to ensure every player in the game has what they need to create a meaningful experience.
Prioritizing this sentiment is crucial; briefing with an analyst as a non-client means you don’t get any do-overs. Beth Torrie recommended, “Make sure you have every necessary resource available for a range of scenarios, including customized deck PDFs, pricing sheets, case studies, or any kind of proof that you’re winning deals from your competitors. As the go-between for the analyst, it’s your job to predict, collect and deliver the information the analyst needs, how they want to consume it, and when they need to consume it. You only have a few seconds to capture an analyst’s attention via email, so make it count!”
For example, emailing an entire press release is a major turn-off. It’s also likely to associate your name with useless information. Analysts need the highlight reel and this applies to delivering a briefing, too. It should be compelling and use the power of storytelling. Make them want to ask questions, learn more, and consider a new perspective. The ultimate goal is to leave the analyst asking for a follow-up briefing or conversation. Serving your analyst with intention will make your job easier and make you look like a rockstar to your c-suite.
I hope you can find some of these tips useful in building out your analyst network and scheduling a briefing without a research contract. If you have any questions or tips of your own, feel free to comment or shoot me a message.
More resources for Analyst Relations
Check out the Analyst Relations Clubhouse! We’re a passionate group with a lot of ideas about how to elevate traditional AR functions -- if you have any burning questions, interesting observations, or craving camaraderie, please join us or contact me, or Beth Torrie on LinkedIn or Twitter.
The Bendy Show Podcast - We launched our podcast! Listen to us chat about Analyst Relations.