Avoid the Low-Hanging Fruit: How to Achieve a High-Performing Analyst Relations Program

So, you’re looking to start an analyst relations program to drive brand awareness and industry knowledge around your capabilities and services. You’re not alone. 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.

Engaging in an analyst relations program can lead to sales growth via the brand awareness and industry knowledge vehicles mentioned above. But despite the best of intentions, many organizations continue to miss the mark with their analyst relations program, often diving in head first without laying the necessary groundwork. In some cases, organizations fail to understand the basic operating model of a market research firm before conducting outreach.

Here are three things you should consider before starting an analyst relations program:

1) Analyst relations is not media relations

When thinking about media relations, sound bites take on paramount importance–short and clear sentences increase the chance of being quoted. But analyst relations is about much more than getting in key words and phrases. In fact, the basic structure of an analyst meeting (which often run 60-minutes and is usually referred to as a vendor briefing), encourages long, well-substantiated discussions around key services and capabilities. These briefings require organizations to walk through client case studies and recent business projects in order to showcase their expertise. No sound bites allowed.

2) Know who owns what program

Organizations often overlook the difference between “analyst calls” and “vendor briefings,” but there should be a very clear distinction. Think of it as a two-way street. In one direction, an analyst provides market research information to company X about the problems and challenges in a specific business vertical. That’s an analyst call and analyst firms charge a fee for this service. In the other direction, company X shares information about their services and capabilities to an analyst firm. This allows an analyst firm to become familiar with company X and can subsequently recommend their services to a client in need or include them in a research report. This exchange is called a vendor briefing and benefits the analyst firm. To avoid internal confusion around project ownership, it’s important that this distinction is not lost on businesses. It is typically recommended that each vertical (analyst calls and vendor briefings) is owned by separate professionals–ideally by a research manager and an SME, respectively.

3) Understand the outputs

In addition to their market research, analysts publish listings of service providers in specific fields, often ranking businesses by capability and expertise (think along the lines of top PR agencies as determined by their integrated marketing capability). While the central goal of most businesses is to be perceived as a market leader, too often businesses jump the gun and rush to be included in such opportunities without first considering what the output of such a report might look like. For example, when first getting started, it’s important to consider how these listings are generated. Does it require you to list the number of projects delivered? If so, how do you stack up against larger competitors? What will the subsequent perceived outcome be? Is it worth waiting for another opportunity where you can discuss substance over scope? Failing to ask these types of questions can lead to analyst relations misfires.

Maximizing Results

There are significant benefits in engaging with industry analysts via a well-built analyst relations program. Within this program, a smart, strategic approach will make all the difference and help set you apart from the competition.