Want to get a respected analyst to mention you and your company? Analysts at Gartner, Forrester, Yankee Group, and other influential consulting firms say there are tricks to getting their attention. Itís all in how you play the game.
"There's this whole middle ground which is very fertile and gives you the opportunity to enhance your marketing efforts," Barbara French told us.
French should know. Sheís president and co-founder of Tekrati, Inc., an online news source covering high tech industry analysts and firms.
Most marketers think of cultivating relationships with analysts only for the purposes of getting mentioned in either analyst reports, to their clients, or to the press.
But marketers can also use analysts and analyst research to add credibility to their businesses without ever having the analyst specifically endorse their company. Cultivating an analyst can pay off, big time, in terms of third-party validation.
French shared her Three Secrets on how to make the most of analysts for marketing: Secret #1. Get to know the "analyst mentality"
Don't make the mistake of thinking that approaching an analyst is the same as approaching a journalist. Though they have similarities, they're different beasts, in several important ways:
-- Journalists look for the most interesting newsworthy angle, whereas analysts want to know why what you're saying is important to the marketplace.
-- Analysts want empirical data, usually to a greater degree than reporters. "If you're going to them with vaporware, they're just as annoyed as reporters," says French.
-- With reporters, you have a specific point in time that you're talking about. With an analyst, the flavor of the relationship is long term and not as time-sensitive.
-- Different reporters look for different types of news, but analyst firms tend to look for the same kind of information: proof points, customer references, and indicators that the company is well managed.
Secret #2. Increase interaction with them and use their data
If you're not a client of an analyst firm, you may only be speaking with them once or twice a year, "assuming you represent a company that's doing something interesting," French says.
But you can leverage the analyst community in marketing vehicles while at the same time increasing your communication with them. Use these techniques:
-- Enlist the analyst for a Webinar or telebriefing
Analysts generally agree to do these at a lower fee than they charge for speaking appearances because they don't have to travel, and they're typically working off the existing content.
Their point is not to directly endorse your company or products but to talk about the industry; ideally, their ideas validate your approach to solving the problems your customers face.
"You can use the marketing mix to promote it, and can also record it and have playbacks available," French says. Plus, she says, you have the appearance of status because the analyst was willing to be in your seminar.
-- Quote their industry statistics in your press release, brochure, or backgrounder
When you find that one of your competitors is lagging in responding to market requirements, or if you know you're more visionary when it comes to forward looking statements, using statistics from analyst research strengthens your stand and can often clearly point to competitive faults.
"It's always a good idea to respect [analysts'] intellectual property, so contact them for approval to use a quote. And don't use it for more than six months," she says. Be aware that the analyst will want to see the entire piece before giving approval -- and they won't give their approval if you use their material to directly attack a competitor.
"You don't want to go that hard-handed," says French. "As long as you can identify what they see as key trends, and you know your company is aligned with their views, then you're in a good position to bolster your own opinion while opening the door to point out that competitors aren't addressing that area of the market."
-- Get a specific quote from an analyst for your newsletter
Again, this works in the same way that using existing industry statistics does, but you can quote a specific analyst.
Some firms have quote requests on their site, or you can contact their PR department. "Don't expect the same turnaround as with the media," French warns. "You can expect it to take a week, two weeks to hear back from them."
To find the best firm to approach, go to the publication sites that reach your target audience and search for analysts. "That can help guide you to which firm is getting a lot of visibility with your audience," says French.
-- Use an industry statistic as a headline on your Web site
Again, using analyst statistics bolsters your take on the market. And again, you need to get their permission to use their information.
Secret #3. Cultivate personal relationships with analysts
French offered these four tips:
Tip #1. Work with more than one person in large firms
"If an analyst changes companies, some of those clients will go with him or her, so you want to keep that analyst relationship," French says. "By the same token, if the firm has brand equity, you want to build a relationship with that firm," and you don't want that relationship to disappear when the analyst moves on.
Cultivate relationships with your primary analyst plus lower level staff who will get promoted to more senior positions. "Make sure your relationships are down and across," she says.
With smaller firms, your relationship will probably be with only one person, "but they usually debrief everyone else, so it's easy to get known among the others in the firm."
Tip #2. Thank them, but not extravagantly
If you have a closely held relationship, a gift is appreciated (*not* if it's your first meeting with an analyst).
Electronic gift certificates are a nice touch, French says, if you keep them under $25.
Keep an eye out for what your analysts enjoy. If they're wine connoisseurs, take them out to dinner. "Make sure you let them choose the wine and tell them no holds barred," she suggests.
Or invite them to participate in beta programs. Let them use any low-end, "cool devices -- iPods, notebooks. At the end of the beta program, you can negotiate whether they get to keep it or give it back."
Logo wear will only be used to wash the dog or the car. "People are incredibly sensitive to whether analysts are objective or not, more so than journalists."
Tip #3. Third-party survey
Any firm with which you have a deep industry relationship, you'll want to conduct a third-party survey every two years or so, French suggests. The purpose of the survey is to find out whether you're responding to their needs and inquiries, whether you're giving clear answers, whether your spokespeople are articulating the corporate message, etc.
"It's sort of a sanity check for [companies] that have a relationship with a lot of different analysts," she says.
Some vendors and agencies donate $100 to charity in the name of the analyst. It's a goodwill gesture that analysts really appreciate, she says.
Tip #4. A simple noteÖ
Remember that sometimes nothing works better than simply sending a note.
"When an analyst has provided a good service or a good insight, it's basic courtesy, especially if it's coming from management," says French.