Industry analysts have power. They can recommend you, cover you, inform you. They can enhance your sales funnel and elevate your company to new levels. But, like electricity, “analyst power” can run your factory or burn it down. Use it correctly or your company will get hurt. And, like all power, it’s important to understand its nature so you can deliver results and avoid any pain.
Three firms that dominate the AR industry: Gartner, Forrester and IDC. They employ the greatest number of analysts and possess the greatest influence over the most markets. Your first step in harnessing the power of analysts is to understand these three firms, and know how they work so you can work with them effectively.
Gartner, the biggest firm by far, commands most of the attention and money in the industry. It’s analysts advise buyers and clients, and, therefore, influence technology decisions across the ecosystem. Richard Stiennon, the author of “Curmudgeon” and a former Gartner analyst, tells how he changed millions of minds in the security industry by advocating for the concept of intrusion prevention. The details are in my book, Analysts on Analyst Relations, (which I highly recommend ), but all you need to know and believe is that Gartner matters.
Forrester has a similar model to Gartner’s, but is smaller and more focused on business problems vs. the technology itself.
IDC has a very different model. Their main focus is data, such as forecasts and market shares.
Now that you understand the top three firms, you do a deep dive for the other 1269 and the 7500 analysts that work for them. But, of course, that’s impossible. And because prioritizing firms only goes so far, the real work is to identify the individuals that are relevant and influential to your business and concentrate your time and energy on those specific analysts.
So, your next step is tiering individual analysts according to their value to your business, and prioritizing your time, attention and resources accordingly. You can’t develop a comprehensive AR strategy until you’ve “tiered up.”
I begin every AR engagement by understanding the company’s business goals and developing an AR plan that helps achieve those goals. Next, we determine which analysts can move the needle. Who covers our space? Who understands the space well and can provide insights? Who has the most influence and can help amplify our brand and messages?
Then I employ a three-tiered system to categorize how much of our limited time, attention and resources we’ll devote to each of the 7500 analysts. Tier 1 analysts have the biggest impact on the business goals. A typical company should have no more than 10 analysts getting the Tier 1 high-touch treatment. But nobody relevant gets ignored, and Tiers 2 and 3 play will always play a part in an overall AR strategy. Analysts like Ray Wang, Robin Bloor, and Brian Sommer weigh in on this in the book.
One time I was working with a company that was in a niche market. While analysts from top firms were on their Tier 1 list, there was a single independent analyst that ruled this space. He was tiny in the general world of analysts, but critical to success in this particular market and had the most impact on my client’s business goals. For my client, this “tiny” guy was at the top of Tier 1. When I say that size matters, I’m talking about influence and brain strength. The solo practitioner may swing really big in your company’s particular market.
ARchitect by ARInsights, a CRM-like solution for AR, can help find this kind of analyst through their searchable database of analyst coverage.
And now for something completely different. Don’t panic. There are influencers that are not considered “analysts” by definition, but a complete AR strategy should incorporate them..
I recently worked with a company whose target persona was the application developer. The developers were major purchasing influencers, but they didn’t follow the established analysts’ viewpoints and didn’t hold the checkbook. We had to find secondary influencers that engaged the developers in forums and discussion groups. We identified this secondary audience by combing the internet, asking sales, product marketing, partners and customers themselves. Then we built relationships with this secondary audience with the same skills. care and attention that we build relationships with analysts. Tools like Narrative Works offer in-depth data and analytics that help unearth the relevant and impactful influencers.
Analysts have power, but different analysts have different powers. Because our company’s products and messaging are also unique, it is essential to analyze the individual analysts. That’s how we focus our resources with strategies based on specific business objectives and crisp AR goals. You got power, too, you know.