Industry Analyst Relations is often characterized as a “Pay to Play” endeavor with little opportunity for the bootstrapped tech venture; this is not the case. I would argue that there are opportunities for a dedicated Tech Startup to benefit from pursuing Industry Analyst Relations (IAR) even without a large budget to spend. Keep in mind Industry Analysts are knowledge focused experts and there can be equitable and beneficial exchanges of information for those who have put forth the effort to develop their Analyst Relations program and build the necessary relationships in the community. For those new to Industry Analyst Relations and who are considering the reasons to perform IAR, below are some common misconceptions, followed by four compelling reasons to develop an Industry Analyst Relations mission early in a Tech Startup.
Common Misconceptions about Industry Analyst Relations:
Need to wait for the Product Launch, Funding Round or Revenue Size:
- After the fact can be more harmful to building analyst relations as being in the know is more valuable to an analyst than finding out with the press.
- Analysts often see themselves as advisors and can be used as sounding boards for product development and investment groups, so including them before a product launch or funding round can benefit a Tech Startup.
- It is not necessary to be a paid member or hit a milestone to be a compelling enough reason to engage with Industry Analysts.
Pay to Play:
- Any analyst and analyst organization with worthwhile exposure and influence would not jeopardize their credibility. Pay to Play is an unrealistic assertion and would be race to the bottom.
- Pay for access that can be leveraged to gain market insights and influence is possible, however this will not substitute for an inferior market offering.
Why Startup’s should do Industry Analyst Relations
The IIAR AR Compass is a good way to think about the impact of industry analyst relations. In my view, startups should aim for the following objectives.
#1 Grow Sales
All Startup’s need to grow revenues, scale, and demonstrate market validity, however; very often medium to large B2b enterprise sales can be challenging as start-ups must overcome the preconceived risk rating buyers give small young start-ups. Through an IAR strategy, greater sales can be achieved as well as procurement objections overcome through the influence analysts have on the buyers of vendor solutions, thus effecting sales cycles and win ratios, keep in mind Industry Analysts have customer insights that organizational sales functions do not because of the access their profession has with buyers.
#2 Strategic Business Intelligence
Actionable good Business Intelligence is expensive and often time consuming to digest. Industry analysts can provide insights beyond reports on prospects and the market in general. This is available as Industry Analysts have clients that are both vendors and buyers of tech providing an overall market view of different trends in tech markets and their verticals. Industry Analysts often have market knowledge beyond the reports and conferences they participate in, additional insights can be gained through the relationships built with analysts covering a given tech market.
#3 Market Exposure
Industry Analyst Relations can support the marketing function through greater effective exposure such as in Media Quotes, Speaker Events, Research Reports and White Papers. Industry Analysts have greater influence on medium to large enterprises than growth hacking and content marketing as they provide third party validation that can be used for demand generation as well as influence on different channels of stakeholders in the purchasing decision. Industry Analysts provide an opportunity for greater visibility and a feedback loop in the communication messaging to the marketed audiences. This provides for effective messaging through message testing as well as education from the Industry Analysts of the prospective buyers.
#4 Product Strategies
Industry Analysts can also be used to test and validate product strategies as they have an overall view of what key players are building in each market and what minimal requirements are needed to be considered a viable option in the market. They can also shed light on what is not being developed and why, which for innovators like Tech Startup’s is quite valuable for MVP development and product differentiation strategies.
This post has briefly outlined some misconceptions of Industry Analyst Relations and some key areas where IAR can be of value specifically to Start-ups. There are a plethora of areas IAR can be of value to companies and the use -cases will be company specific. The information in this article is intended to be informative and introductory for Startup’s and those new to Industry Analysts Relations.
Josh Seerattan (@JoshSeerattan, LinkedIn) is the IIAR Canada Chapter Lead.
Your next steps
- Check the IIAR paper on Who are industry analysts and what do they do?
- Define your goals with the IIAR Best Practice Paper: Plan your analyst relations programme with the AR Compass
- And Get help with your influencer relations
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3 thoughts on “Common Misconceptions and 4 Key Areas Tech Start-ups Can Benefit from Industry Analyst Relations”
I wholeheartedly agree with Josh’s premise, the four areas are key for start-ups – Start-ups need support from industry analysts (and AR pros), endorsements like Cool Vendor status can be game changers for them. Along with the rationale you’ve discussed I saw some research this week that further convinced me that they need ‘our’ help to engage and win. The survival rate of start-ups in the UK, or the US isn’t great. Government stats show that by the fifth year over 50% fail. However, when start-up have CV status there seems to be a shade over 20% failure rate, ie almost 80% survive so a huge improvement! Further demonstrating the value of an analyst ‘endorsement’ in my mind. The challenge many start-ups have is working out who to target, when and with what – that’s where AR pros come in of course.
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