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What do they think? Tracking analyst perceptions

Updated: Jun 10

The ultimate goal of analyst relations is to improve the perception of influential analysts.

Every good outcome we strive for in AR depends on it. 

Want coverage?  Check. 

Mentions to prospects? Check.

Valuable insights? Check.

Positive evaluation reports (MQs, Waves, etc.)? Double check.  

There are about 8000 analysts in the market, but only a handful are critically important to your specific business at its specific stage of development. We categorize these analysts as Tier 1. They are the ones that impact your business and improve not only revenue growth, but geographic expansion, brand awareness, product capabilities, new product launches, et cetera., et cetera,  et maxima. These are the ones we want as advocates, and our job is to track them down, read their minds, and then slowly, but surely change those minds.

Analysts have exposure to many vendors. Dozens, if not hundreds.  It’s dizzying. Your vendor needs to stand out. You do it with strong messages that make you memorable… and remembered very positively. 

It is the vendor’s job to go from Negative (sometimes) to Neutral to Positive to All Out Advocates. Advocates think about a vendor, write about them, and mention them to prospects.  And they tend to give valuable insights to the vendor about how to be even better and stronger. When you’ve developed this kind of relationship, the MQs, Waves, etc. usually have great outcomes. 

When we work with a new client, we identify the five to seven analysts that are most relevant and influential. For those Tier 1 analysts, we build an engagement plan for each that defines where we stand with them today and where we want to stand a year from now. Our goals are very specific. What do we want them to think, feel and do? Then we outline the engagements that will make that change happen -- briefings, inquiries, strategy sessions, emails, etc. -- and the content we need to address. These touches, carefully executed, will change perceptions.  

We measure our progress in two ways:

  • Engagement Ratings.  Whenever we engage with an analyst, we take a hard look at their response and give the interaction a rating. Is the analyst engaged?  Are they leaning in?  Asking good questions?  Commenting? (“Wow, this is the best thing I’ve seen this year” or “I’ve heard 12 vendors with the same story just this week.”)   The hardest thing about rating engagements is being honest about it. How did it really go?  It’s difficult to evaluate interactions that you are very close to. We suggest the eyes and ears of a third-party, such as Schaffer AR (we are happy to give this shameless plug; we’re also experienced and knowledgeable on the subject).

  • Perception Audits.  This is an annual activity where AR pros ask the analyst questions that get at their perception. We ask them to describe our strengths and weaknesses, rate our capabilities compared to the competitive field, and provide any recommendations to the CEO and Board.  We do interviews with the Tier 1 analysts and an online survey for the rest.  We suggest the person conducting the perception audits not be an individual engaged with the analyst on a day-to-day basis. The feedback tends to be more open, honest, and valuable if conducted by a colleague or a third party professional.

Looking at both the engagement ratings and annual perception audit gives you an excellent picture of where you are in that relationship. The perception audit gives you a wake-up call on whether you’ve been capturing their perception accurately throughout the year. 

Analyst relations programs are notoriously difficult to measure. Showing impact can elevate and expand the program, giving you the people and budget you need to get even better results.  When we look at measures we consider 1) Activity: All the engagements we have, both one-to-one and one-to many.  2) Perceptions: What the analysts think of us at this moment. And  3) Outcomes: Coverage, mentions, sales impacts, and business insights. 

Do you really know analyst perceptions, or are you betting on assumptions?  Don’t guess.  Observe, ask, and track. This puts you in control of your destiny. 

If you have questions about measuring perception or any other aspect of analyst relations, don’t hesitate to reach out

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