Industry analyst relations is an essential, if underutilized, tool in the marketing and positioning of software and IT services companies. Because of their relationships with buyers of technology, analysts like Gartner, Forrester and IDC hold tremendous power over vendors of IT products and services. They interact with existing and potential customers, employees and financial analysts. They influence media coverage, affect purchasing decisions, drive investor behavior, impact industry status and define industry trends. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 32 percent increase in market research analyst employment by 2022, which speaks to the growing importance of analyst relations in business strategy.
Marketers inherently know that an unbiased endorsement can go a long way towards establishing credibility and creating buzz. Still, beyond report mentions, not everyone understands why analysts are such a crucial audience for almost every IT company looking to sell to a business. This oft-overlooked segment of influencers could hold the power to make or break your next deal—and your brand.
Cultivating analyst relationships provides the following primary benefits:
Analysts are well known for their research and expert advice. They produce research reports and rankings that provide comprehensive information to high tech buyers and investors. You need analysts, whether you like it or not, to survive in both the short term and long term because their word carries tremendous power. It’s no secret that ranking well in a Gartner Magic Quadrant can have a demonstrable impact on sales and on the visibility of your brand. Other analysts might not be as visible in the market through quadrants, waves and market guides, but nevertheless directly influence the buying behavior of their clientele. And who are their clients? Not only do four out of five Fortune 2000 companies buy analyst services, but so do two out of every five enterprises with revenue between $100 million and $500 million.
Consider the impact that analysts have on sales. When a company decides that they need to invest in new technology, invariably an analyst will be involved in that decision making process—either directly as a result of a consultation or indirectly through a research report. According to the Kensington Group, a whopping 80 percent of major IT-related purchasing decisions worldwide are directly influenced by analysts. While an analyst may not recommend a particular tech product outright, they may include your organization on a short list of companies, or give an honest assessment of your offering to interested prospects.
Ultimately, effective marketing organizations operate from a single premise—building a foundation of trust with customers and prospects. As a marketer, you can toot your own horn all day long, but until you can demonstrate third-party validation, few will listen. Being validated by an analyst can help. For example, analysts’ importance as an independent source for media has continuously grown over the years. Journalists often look to analysts to deliver insights, confirm trends and add quotes and credibility to their profiles of key companies and industries. For savvy marketers, cultivating analyst relationships over the long term can result in positive coverage in trade and business press. For these reasons, many top technology companies even consider analyst relations to be more important than media relations.
Many businesses overlook the opportunity presented by the analyst community, to their detriment. With their direct and indirect impact on end-customers, analysts are key opinion leaders and influencers for every marketer within a technology company. When analyst relations is done right, marketers have the chance to differentiate themselves from their competition, sell products and take their brand to the next level.
Kim Baker is Senior Manager of Global Communications at Progress, where she and her team are responsible for worldwide media, analyst and social media activities. Kim has 20 years of experience in high-tech PR and has worked with all kinds of businesses – from small start-ups to global tech giants – to build visibility, credibility and market awareness.
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