Today, there are many ways for marketers to connect to buyers through influencer marketing, social selling, and content marketing, to name a few. But, the big analyst firms, like Forrester, Gartner, and IDC, are still hugely influential in shaping software categories and markets, especially in the risk-averse world of the big corporates or as market categories become established.
Despite what the cynics might suggest, analyst relations is not “pay to play”. It’s an analyst’s job to be curious and to understand the market, and so they will usually welcome a conversation with a vendor with something new to share.
Therefore, access and influence through briefings aren’t just for those paying hefty subscriptions, most vendors have the potential opportunity to brief an analyst, and for every MarTech vendor, large or small, analyst relations need to be part of an influencer marketing strategy. With a couple of decades of experience of analyst briefings from both sides of the
table, I’d like to share ten tips for a successful briefing.
#1 – Don’t Sell the Pain
It’s a sales pitch, and it isn’t. Good practice in a sales pitch is to market
and sell the problem you are solving to bring some immediacy to the client’s pain and to demonstrate empathy and credibility in understanding it. Therefore, a pitch deck for a client includes slides that talk about the change in the world, give education on trends, and how they affect the client and their industry. Time is short, and you won’t need those. A good analyst will already know the problem the solutions in their category
solve and will hear this in every briefing. Yes, you will need to position your solution in this world, but move quickly through this and focus on you and your place in the market.
#2 – Don’t Boil the Ocean
An analyst briefing is just part of an influencer journey. If it’s your first, it’s an introduction that should leave them wanting more; don’t try and cram everything into 100 slides and race through it. Prepare three things you want the analyst to remember after the briefing and ensure you orchestrate the meeting to underline those.
#3 – Focus on the Outcomes
The year the company started, the number of offices or staff you have, revenues, and corporate background can come later. Yes, the analyst will need to know you are a credible vendor, but this can be at the end
of the deck or sent afterward. Focus on tangible outcomes your clients
have seen through great case studies. Case studies not only make you credible as a vendor, analysts crave them as they help validate their research and the benefits of this category as a whole. Good case studies then permit you to tell the story of how that sausage got its sizzle, how you achieved that outcome, and talk about you and your unique approach.
#4 – Focus on the Difference
As with client pitches, while the products we market and sell have got way more complicated and feature-rich, the time we have to demonstrate them remains the same. Don’t focus on whatever the “table stakes” are for your industry category; focus on what’s different about your product, point
of view, or approach.
#5 – Be Authentic
Analysts are wary, or even skeptical of bold claims, and it’s easy to get busted. If you share figures, make sure they have proper attribution associated with them. Be clear about which part of a large corporation or organization you claim is using your solution (if it’s a big brand, they may know someone). And, analysts know that no solution is perfect, so be human about it, turn the selling down a little.
#6 – Careful About Competitors
The analyst knows the competitors better than you do, or will certainly believe they do and will be skeptical of competitive claims. Talking about competitors is a tricky one because if the analyst doesn’t know you, it’s natural to frame your company within the category using competitors, “we are like XYZ, only different”. But, you could be treading a tightrope, it’s
easy to think you know the competition well, but be careful what you say. You could end up undermining your credibility if you get this wrong, seem
arrogant about a vendor the analyst might rate highly, or you could distract the analyst into debating the competition, not focusing on you.
#7 – There are Always Competitors
To the previous point, it’s tempting instead to say that there are no competitors as you feel strongly that your approach is unique. That might be true, but if you are briefing a significant analyst firm, the category will be mature enough to have other players, even if (in your view) it’s using the wrong product in a workaround or is suboptimal. Your job is then to influence the analyst to consider your points of difference to be important in defining the category, and how they judge these other solutions, who are
#8 – Respect the Analyst and Their Work
Make sure you look the analyst up on LinkedIn (and that the whole briefing team does) read the research you can get access to, think about your point of view of that research so that you can demonstrate you’ve read it. When you’ve done your research, you can frame your briefing around the things they have demonstrated that they care about, and you will be immediately relevant. And, don’t quote other analysts or rival firms. It’s tempting to build credibility with a casual “the other analyst from firm x liked this bit”. It’s not just bad form to mention a competitor, but many analysts are sensitive about following other analysts.
#9 – Think About What the Analyst Wants
Analysts are humans, trying to hustle along just like you. They have targets,
goals, research to complete, and probably competition for credibility in their coverage area. Think about how you can help with that research by introducing them to a client, share a case study that validates the category, or maybe you have access to some independent research.
#10 – A Focused Demo
When doing a demo, keep it tight, relevant to the analyst’s area of research, the prepared points you want to get across, and your differentiation. The demo needs to be relevant to the analyst’s interest and reinforce the three
things you want the analyst to remember. Avoid the harbor tour clicking on every feature, those parts of the product that are inferred or generic in your industry, focusing on the features you are most proud of, or even those parts of the demo you spent all night preparing.
Remember, a briefing is the first date in what may become a long relationship, both for you personally and for your company. Don’t just show up for the scheduled briefings and do nothing in between, nurture the relationship on social and email updates when you have something worth sharing to nurture the relationship.