IIAR> AR job description word cloud

IIAR> Primer: What is analyst relations?

IIAR> AR job description word cloud

Analyst relations professionals build valuable relationships, turning analysts and influencers into trusted strategic advisors, advocates, and prescribers.

Authors: Ludovic Leforestier (@lludovic, LinkedIn) and Trish Valladeres (LinkedIn)

Key takeaways

  • Analyst and Influencer Relations (AR) is changing by becoming a more strategic role, influencing the wider company and brand
  • AR has a role to play in developing the roadmap, providing an unbiased real-world feedback loop, creating marketing messaging, and helping to train the sales function
  • Building relationships is key – both with analysts and internal stakeholders who can help to tell the AR ‘story’ to your organisation
  • Analyst relations impact the top line as the views and opinions of analysts play a key role in multiple parts of the buyers’ decision making process 
  • Beyond influence, AR reaches deep into corporate strategic functions by leveraging analyst insights to align the solutions with corporate messaging and strategy, adjust product roadmaps and even advise on M&A
  • The AR professional needs to be driven by business-goals, and identify the right activities and metrics that will help them achieve those goals, and demonstrate benefit to the organisation

What is analyst relations?

This IIAR> Primer aims to clearly define the aims, duties, and challenges of the Analyst Relations role. It outlines the distillation of the knowledge of IIAR members and represents a simple and easy to understand template for AR roles across the industry. 

Defining the AR role has become more essential as it continues to evolve into a more strategic position.. Over recent years, AR professionals are increasingly taking on a strategic leadership role within their organisations by applying analyst insights to develop the roadmap and updating marketing messaging. AR now means developing and maintaining long-term relationships, externally and internally, that help an organisation to grow with the market. Although coverage and execution are still a vital part of the role, they now sit within a wider, more influential, strategic framework.   

The IIAR> defines AR as follows:

Analyst & influencer relations (AR) professionals engage with industry analysts and other B2B influencers on behalf of technology vendors. They build relationships with the analyst community and drive conversations about vendors and their solutions to gain strategic insights, educate analysts to help them knowledgeably position vendors with their user clients and leverage analyst research and content for marketing purposes and advocacy with technology buyers. 

See the IIAR> Best Primer: What is analyst relations (to be published) by Ludovic Leforestier (@lludovic, LinkedIn) and Trish Valladeres (LinkedIn), May 2021.

What do AR people do?

First and foremost, analyst relations serves both industry analysts and internal stakeholders. This duality is vital: AR brings value by bridging those two audiences and driving alignment via conversation and relationship building. Building strong relationships between your organization and analysts requires a range of activities that touch on many different aspects of an enterprise. 

Analyst relations outcomes and benefits

The main goal of analyst relations, as ARInsights puts it, is to increase awareness and knowledge-sharing between vendors and a vital audience – industry analysts. Ultimately, the aim is to achieve key business goals via the analyst channel – improving your business’ reputation, improving your product, and making the right moves in the M&A space to increase revenue and reduce costs.

For industry analysts, AR is a necessary conduit into vendor organisations to gain the information they require to analyse the market and vendors. This service is free to industry analysts and represents a significant investment from vendors. Concretely, this translates into organising briefings and summits to inform analysts on the vendor company, its products and solutions, answering analysts questions and filling-in RFI’s for major evaluations such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant, the Forrester Wave, the IDC MarketScape, the GigaOm Market Radar, the ISG Provider Lens, etc.

On the vendor side, AR delivers value via the four categories in the IIAR> AR Compass, (the IIAR> framework for AR goals) for many internal stakeholders:

  • Strategy: AR identifies the right influencers to drive insightful conversations to achieve the goals of expanding, tightening or tweaking strategy and refining positioning and messaging  between analysts and top executives and strategy teams, including Corporate Affairs, Corporate Development, the C-Suite and the Board at large, Corporate Strategy, Product Engineering and Product Marketing.
  • Opinion: AR monitors and drives analyst coverage, both in syndicated and open research, traditional and open media, as well as analysts participation in conferences and industry events.
  • Sales: AR tracks analysts’ influence on vendor revenues, ensures analysts can knowledgeably position current solutions and are aware of the vendors’ roadmaps. It can also help with sales training and developing sales tools to help address customer needs more efficiently, and help sales to ‘speak the language of the customer’.  
  • Marketing: AR supports marketing and communications with commissioned research, by leveraging syndicated research and analyst authority.

In conclusion, AR professionals manage relationships with technology’s very top influencers, industry analysts, impacting not only the entire buyer journey from awareness to contract negotiation but also short-listing. 

  • For vendors who employ or contract AR professionals, the benefits are greater than the amount added to the top-line because industry analysts shape markets, create categories and act as sounding boards who can help vendors make the right decisions and trusted advisors who can potentially avoid fatal or extremely expensive strategic mistakes.
  • Analysts drive business value, and AR makes it easier for them to recommend your vendor. Analysts can also help a business avoid expensive mistakes, by advising on M&A and roadmap development. 

In other words, analyst relations is the greatest insurance policy a technology vendor can buy against expensive mistakes.

How is it different from public relations?

Whilst AR is often portrayed as a communications function, it is different in nature, outcomes and cadence. There are similarities: Both AR (analyst and influencer relations) and PR (media and public relations) professionals are experts at coaching spokespersons, crafting impactful pitches and fine-tuning their messages to their audiences. They’re excellent communicators who know how to read the room to react fast.

However, there are several key differences that make them very different functions altogether:

  • Outcomes: analyst conversations are frequently under NDA and insights from conversations often matter more than mentions in research. 
  • Timeline of campaigns: Where PR excels in quick turnaround and crisis management, the results of AR programs are rarely about immediate gratification because analyst research agendas are often set for a calendar year.  The cadence of AR campaigns  are orchestrated across months, sometimes spanning several years as opposed to reactively.
  • Goals: whereas PR is geared towards coverage volume, AR’s focus is on building trusted relationships with analysts to gain strategic insights to avoid surprises and expensive mistakes.
  • Metrics: AR pros measure analyst perception, movements in major evaluations such as the Gartner Magic Quadrants, the IDC MarketScapes or Forrester Waves, or measurements against competitors such as Share of Voice or Net Market Impact, compared to media coverage by news sources.

Conclusion

Analyst & influencer relations professionals have the ability to create huge value and their own level of influence internally and externally through their interactions with analysts. The AR role is varied, challenging, and very rewarding within their organisations. 

By communicating internally with marketing, product engineering, and the C-Suite, the AR function can shift and improve the company’s strategy and roadmap to help keep a vendor’s product competitive. Externally, they have the chance to increase the visibility and reputation of a vendor, directly affecting the bottom line. 

To learn more about analyst relations, join the IIAR> and register for our next monthly meet-up or subscribe to our mailing list below.