It is quite easy to talk about the qualitative aspects of analyst relations, but when it comes down to the numbers, things tend to get more confusing. Measuring has become a holy grail of business operations and a lot of times things that can’t be measured in terms of ROI get discarded quite quickly. For this reason a lot of effort has been put into finding ways to measure the impact of analyst relations on the success of the business. By tracking the number of leads and deals generated or influenced by analysts and by tracking the number of analysts’ mentions a company gets in research publications, the media or at public speaking events most vendors have by now come to understanding the value of analyst relations for the business. Looking at the individual analyst this could mean the following: A typical research report (e. g. a Magic Quadrant) from a major analyst firm easily attracts thousands of readers throughout the year it is published in. At the same time it is not uncommon for an analyst to have around 500 inquiry calls per year with a significant portion of these focusing on vendor/product selection related topics. On top of this the analyst will probably write a blog, tweet, engage in social media, give interviews to the media and will speak at several events throughout a year. By adding up these numbers the potential exposure for a vendor created by a single analyst can easily add-up to several thousand contact points with relevant prospects.
But what about the effort that has to be put into reaching the right analysts? When we are talking about ROI we often forget to thoroughly analyze the ‘Invest’ part of the equation. In many cases the executive at a vendors presenting in the briefing only sees the time spent talking to the analysts but has no understanding of the time and effort required to identify and engage the relevant analysts before a briefing can take place. Obviously this is not all that is required to make a successful briefing happen but for this post I will disregard the strategy planning and content creation which of course is a major part of any analyst relations program. At Kea Company we initiate, plan, organize and execute several hundred briefings each year. This gives us a unique understanding of the logistics that are happening behind the scenes of an analyst briefing campaign.
Sometimes finding the right analysts to talk to can be like searching for the needle in the haystack: There are about 10.000 IT analysts in roughly 800 analyst firms focusing on more than a hundred different technology areas and verticals. So narrowing down the field can be quite a daunting challenge. What I did for this blog is to look at our Analyst Tracking System to get some solid numbers based on our real world experience. Of course these numbers are only averages and there is quite a wide spread around this average depending on technology area or vendor focus (e. g. regional or vertical). So let’s focus on our example vendor ‘Average Tech Corp’ who is briefing 25 different analysts per year. What does this mean in terms of identifying and engaging analysts before this can happen? First of all you have to do a search (e. g. via the internet by visiting all the analyst firms’ websites) to do an initial screening and create a pool of potentially relevant analysts. For ‘Average Tech Corp’ this means he ends up with 400 analysts who seem to have some connection to the topics which are relevant for this vendor. After a more in-depth session spent on reading the bios of these analysts and by taking a look at their focus areas this field gets narrowed down to 200 analysts. A more in-depth screening (e. g. by reading their blogs, browsing through their recently published research and by studying their research agenda) narrows down the field to 100 analysts who are relevant for ‘Average Tech Corp’. Full of enthusiasm the Analyst Relations pro at ‘Average Tech Corp’ reaches out to each of these analysts with a tailored briefing request which highlights the relevance of ‘Average Tech Corp’ for this particular analyst. After exchanging some more emails and finding out that some of the analysts have changed focus, left the company or are about to retire next week he ends up with 25 agreed briefings for ‘Average Tech Corp’.
This effort probably took about 400 hours and required some prior knowledge of the analyst space and as mentioned doesn’t include the content and strategy side of the analyst relations program. Also providing feedback and input for research publications requires additional time and effort. So is it all worth it? Yes, definitely: Cycling back to the beginning of this post: Each analyst can result in more than 10.000 qualified contacts with your target audience. So the 25 analyst briefings have the potential to greatly increase your marketreach making analyst relations one of the most efficient tools in the marketing mix of a technology vendor.