Every year brings with it a plethora of challenges but this year, more than most, has seen dramatic disruption across the globe from both societal and economic perspectives. The technology industry, like many others, is having to come to terms with rapid change that has thrown old plans out the window and required the swift deployment of entirely new or amended ones in place. As the impact of COVID-19 forces businesses to take a close look at budgets, one thing is absolutely clear: analyst relations is more important than ever.
Technology vendors and their end user customer bases are paying closer attention than ever to everything that affects the bottom line, with many having very different priorities. Some businesses are simply trying to survive, and therefore want to understand how to make the right decisions for the short term, while others want a more strategic plan for the future so that they might even gain market share or pivot to other lines of business that they might not have considered before. Either way, industry analysts can provide crucial support. Discussions in recent months with various analyst firms have shown just how important this analyst insight is.
Historically, discussions with prospects have often centred on a desire to secure advocacy from the industry analyst community. Tech vendors have long understood the considerable impact industry analysts have on end user buying decisions. Customers looking to make expensive purchasing decisions turn to analyst research when trying to understand the most appropriate vendors and solutions. They work with these analysts to understand all aspects of the landscape, to ensure the final solution is the right one for them – meaning analysts are brought in for consultation on vendor comparisons, implementation guidance, contract negotiations and much more. But we’re now seeing a world in which technology companies are not just trying to use analyst insight for marketing purposes, they’re actively leveraging analyst insights to help guide them through this period of uncertainty to ensure their own future.
Of course, most vendors have used analyst insight to validate strategy since their inception, but what has become apparent of late is just how appreciative vendors have been of this insight. Thanks to the nature of their jobs, industry analysts build up considerable knowledge of their respective research areas, understanding everything happening in that space, whether it’s the vendors and their solutions, customer needs, changing trends and market opportunities. This strategic insight is invaluable in today’s environment where any error could spell disaster for a business.
Overnight success is almost never a reality, so to really get the best from analyst relationships, technology vendors should have long term AR programmes in place to ensure the relevant analysts are kept up to speed on all aspects of product and business strategy. And to better inform those strategies, vendors should be looking to industry analysts to help validate product and service strategy, get feedback on go-to-market positioning, conduct message testing, gain strategic insights from reports, understand competitor activity and finesse sales strategies as appropriate.
If you’re unsure of whether you should have an AR programme as part of your overall communications or business strategy, take a look at your business. Do your leaders turn to analyst research to keep abreast of the market? Do analyst reports help or hinder customer and partner acquisition? Do priority media cite industry analysts in content? Does your sales team value analyst commentary to help close deals? Have you ever used industry analysts to help validate product strategy and messaging prior to launch? Chances are your competitors currently are working with analysts to help guide their businesses through the current turmoil and even perhaps help identify growth opportunities for the future.