Industry analysts are key influencers in the technology ecosystem, providing counsel and industry insights to end-user customers, the investment community, trade bodies, media and more. As such, it is no surprise how much vendors value their advocacy, either in major reports, speaking engagements or traditional media. Analyst assets, such as vendor evaluation reports, are often amongst the most influential materials used when converting sales deals and thus, extremely important for revenue generation and future growth.
Given that PR programmes are also trying to gain mindshare within the B2B ecosystem to generate leads through publicity, it should be no surprise that AR could and should serve as a crucial partner to PR in driving influence. However, while many vendors understand this need to secure analyst advocacy, their AR tactics often highlight a misunderstanding regarding the time investment needed for AR and so they miss many opportunities to help shape their PR efforts.
AR takes time. Analyst research agendas are planned out far in advance. As such, treating AR as PR by trying to speak to analysts and media at the same time i.e. at the launch of your shiny new product, not only misses many chances to help shape and refine your messaging but also can be somewhat insulting to analysts as it shows a potential ignorance towards their processes. Analysts advise customers throughout the purchasing journey, from education to shortlisting, selection and contract negotiation. In doing so, they need to provide their clients with a thorough understanding of the market and the major players within it.
This insight takes time to cultivate. Therefore, briefing them at the last possible moment before a launch fails to take into account the time they need to fully understand all shifts happening within a certain market. It is much better to get ahead of this by speaking to them consistently for months, if not years, in advance to ensure that by the time of your launch, analysts can advocate on your behalf as powerful ambassadors of your product or service. This can then bring many benefits to a PR function.
Well-planned AR programmes that inform analysts while seeking their counsel well ahead of launches can also shape the product itself and finesse sales strategies to position your business for success but, looking purely at PR, the benefits are many. As the influencers who understand customer needs and know the questions asked by customers ahead of big purchasing decisions, analysts can be excellent sounding boards with which to test messaging. Who better to inform you of what a customer wants to hear than the person who hears the customer questions day in and day out?
Analysts know the customer frustrations with existing products or services, and they understand what customers want from future purchases to better position their businesses for long-term success. On top of that, analysts already know what your competitors are saying about their own products and can therefore help ensure some kind of competitive differentiation for you. They will also understand the particular nuances of the region in which you’re planning to sell and can thus prevent you from making incorrect assumptions if indeed you’re attempting to move into a new one.
Finally, doing all this in the lead up to a launch will likely increase mindshare with the relevant analysts and build confidence in your product or service so that by the time you do launch, you have a set of ambassadors who might be willing to provide quotes for press releases or act as references for media and prospects to follow-up with, ensuring the best possible results for your PR function. The analysts will also appreciate the respect shown towards their own agendas and so your chances of ensuring inclusion in key reports will be higher because these consistent interactions will keep the analysts knowledgeable about your business, therefore knowing whether you fit the criteria of their reports, and will prevent any missed deadlines ahead of report publications.