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Analyst Relations Best Practices

and what is Analyst Relations, anyway?

This post is for you if you work in an industry which has third-party industry or market-focused analysts that monitor the competition, regulations, innovations, and market changes.

I have been observing formal and informal Analyst Relations functions within various organizations for a couple of years, and have discovered some things that work well for companies. I have also observed that when companies do not focus on conducting a few key aspects of Analyst Relations functions, they do not do as well with their strategy and marketing.

What is Analyst Relations?

What is AR? Analyst Relations is a corporate function that is focused on engaging with independent third-party research, analysis, and consulting firms that have influence on the market through their regularly published research and/or their sought-after opinions and advisory. The influence is sometimes the result of good research, analysis and reporting, but more importantly, the influence can be advisory for the buyers in your market considering the products and services that your company provides. This means that you ought to brief these analysts about your products and services so that they can really and truly understand their attributes, and provide an enlightened opinion to anyone considering your products over a competitor's products.

How is AR different from PR? Analyst Relations is the function of engaging with independent research and analyst firms in order to manage the brand and message being delivered through these market influencers, while Public Relations is a function focused on managing company brand and messaging to EVERYONE and ANYONE interested, including the public, consumers, business end-users, the media, and the analyst firms. Public Relations often tends to be one-way messaging, from the company to the public; while AR tends to be a two-way engagement, with information, messaging and intelligence coming from the company to the analysts, but also the analysts opinions and analysis coming back from the analysts to the firm.

What are the key success factors for companies to achieve successful analyst relations functions?

Companies that perform the following best practices tend to have a better controlled and executed marketing strategy:

  1. Develop and constantly improve regular interval presentations and briefings to analyst firms about what the company is working on, new product launches, company strategy, etc. Make it your company's business to have the analysts fully informed about your company and its products and services, leaving no guess-work to the industry analysts;
  2. Keeping an analyst calendar – to understand which analyst firms will be focusing on specific market segments and topics (and when), and enabling your company to influence the analysts in time for their research, analysis, and publication schedules;
  3. Develop a culture around AR, such that AR becomes everybody’s business within your company, from executives to sales, and from product management to marketing. Everybody in the company should know the role of the analyst firms, the influence they can have on the market, how the AR firms should be engaged with - whether formally through only the AR staff, or informally with multiple interactions from various departments and functions within your company;
  4. Seek out and use the opinions, advisory, and intelligence flowing back from the industry analysts to the company to validate strategy and business cases and to better understand the competitive landscape.

Here is the best part: you don’t actually have to buy the research and consulting services offered by the industry analyst firms in order to brief them and influence the market through them. You should however, consider their products and services, and test out and purchase any of those that are relevant to you and/or the markets your company plays in. If they are receiving good briefings from you, and are receiving good briefings from others in your market, then they are likely well-informed market advisers.

Knowing at least what your competitors know about the markets you play in, puts you on an even playing field with the competition. Knowing what they know, plus what you know about your own company’s strategy, and having it validated by independent third-party industry experts, puts you at a competitive advantage. And the even playing field and/or competitive advantage are all completely wasted, if the buyers, customers, and end-users in your markets do not know what you know about the products and services.

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