How to Influence the Influencers

A big part of the PR mix is to win mindshare with leading industry analysts.

Don't be afraid of the analysts, just talk to them in their own language, argues Levin
Don't be afraid of the analysts, just talk to them in their own language, argues Levin

However, to be successful you need to know what analysts want, when they want it and how to present it – a task that is not as easy as it may seem.

Industry analysts: As a vendor, you either love them or hate them depending on what they have to say, or not say, about your company.

Your customers hang on their every word.

Fifty per cent of all big IT buying decisions are influenced by analyst comments and research shows that analysts are seen as one of the most trusted sources of advice and information – alongside their peers.

They are the opinion formers, reputation makers and recommenders.

Through favourable citings in the press and recommendations to clients they can help build a supplier’s mindshare and sales pipeline.

Given this ability to move the market, building engagement with key analysts is clearly vital.

And yet it is surprisingly often an area of real weakness for companies with poor engagement and commensurate poor results.

It is obviously frustrating not to appear on the list of cited suppliers in a particular segment, or not to be put forward to a buyer for consideration.

But when analysts are making their recommendations, who are they going to pick out?

They’ll choose someone they know – and someone they feel can be trusted to deliver.

So what are the key factors in making that all-important first impression and building long-term, trusted relationships?

Four things analysts want to know

To begin with, scrap the hyperbole and self-aggrandising sales pitches – which includes taking a scalpel to the word ‘unique’. Equally to statements like "We are the only company to...", "We provide the best…".

These statements may be true but unless they are backed up with hard evidence they remain empty rhetoric and vague generalisms that immediately raises analysts’ hackles.

Here’s what analysts actually want to know:

1. What is the relevance of your product or service in the market? And to whom?

2. What truly differentiates your offering from your rivals in the market?

3. How is the business performing, and what are its prospects going forward?

4. How do you see the market changing and what will that mean for your future plans?

The more clear, confident, succinct and specific is the information, the more likely analysts will sit up and take notice.

They don’t assess companies on what they say but on what they can prove.

If your product is better than the competition, provide credible evidence and benchmarks.

If you save customers money, show exactly how.

If your organisation is poised for growth, include roadmaps and strategies.

Above all, demonstrate you have a clear understanding of your market and its needs.

All this may seem like ‘motherhood and apple pie’ but in our experience it requires a good measure of discipline and dedicated resources in areas encompassing everything from corporate governance to data analysis, market research and product positioning.

And of course an effective resource that can synthesize all of this information into credible communications.

Simon Levin is managing director of The Skills Connection 

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