My favorite client is a tiny SaaS provider with a highly disruptive solution. The CEO has little budget to invest with analysts, so together we are on a mission to spread awareness and gain advocacy based on the uniqueness of their approach. They offer an employee listening solution that can also be used to gather insights from any group of people and then stimulate collaboration among the community. It’s extremely cool and analysts eat it up. This vendor has been covered in reports multiple times and the CEO was even featured on an analyst podcast. And you can bet when analysts face a buyer looking for a solution, his solution rolls off their tongues.
Many companies I meet think the analyst game is “pay to play.” To the contrary, the analyst game is actually “great ideas play.” If you have a truly unique, differentiating, disruptive idea, analysts want to play. They want to hear about it. They want to be the first to discover it, write about it, and talk about it.
Analysts operate in the world of ideas. Their value is based on their expansive knowledge of their coverage area . And that knowledge cannot be limited to the established vendors. They need to keep an eye on all the upstart startups, too. They know that’s where the real innovation happens, and they have to keep their finger on the pulse of the future as well as the past.
Startups, as well as innovation hubs within larger vendors, can fulfill this need. They offer analysts a chance to be the first to truly understand and champion their innovation. This is an enormous win-win, the big brass ring. Imagine the newish analyst striving to make a name for themself. If you can help them make that name, you’ve created a great codependency as they make your name at the same time.
Working with analysts has another huge advantage for a vendor at any stage – feedback and insights. Vendors can benefit from the analyst perspective on their strategy, product-market fit, messaging, and go-to-market approach. While deep consultation takes an investment -- a very worthwhile one – you can get pretty good directional feedback just from a briefing. Analysts grant free briefings to vendors based on the relevance of their solution to the analyst’s coverage and the analyst’s desire to keep abreast of interesting developments. Convince them that you’re a “must see.”
Success comes from building a relationship. The CEO of that favorite client connects and follows all relevant analysts on LinkedIn. He makes pithy comments on, and shares their posts. He tags analysts in his own content where relevant, connecting them to his unique insights. He very smartly uses the platform to engage in meaningful, never frivolous, dialogue.
Since conferences are underway once again, the big ones are a fabulous place to meet face-to-face, have a coffee, and share a moment. Once you have a relationship, find out where your analyst buddies will be and make arrangements whenever you can.
But who are these analysts? If only there were a crystal ball. It takes a lot of hard research. You can start by searching online for industry analysts in your space, check conferences and media, and look for analysts on the sites of the main firms (Gartner, Forrester, and IDC). Then you start assessing, engaging and reassessing. It’s a big undertaking. An AR agency like ours can help.
It’s tough out there. Young vendors – and even established vendors – with limited budgets fight for visibility and credibility every day. But if you are onto something interesting and disruptive, you can create impact. Leverage the megaphone of the analyst community to punch above your fighting weight. Get the attention you deserve from the market and relish the glory.