Analyst relations teams are the CIA of tech companies thanks to one very specific AR competitive weapon: industry analyst inquiries. This month, we have been supporting the IIAR> with their best practice paper on how to run an inquiry. We thought we would take some time to unpack why you should run inquiries and how they are a unique part of the analyst relations toolkit.
What is an analyst inquiry?
What is the difference between inquiries and briefings? It’s all about the intended outcome. An inquiry is not an analyst briefing where you show off your products and strategy. An inquiry is not part of analyst research where they gather information to include in a report. It is a two-way conversation where you can leverage information asymmetry to your advantage –i.e. the fact analysts speak to all ecosystem players.
Unlike an analyst briefing, analyst inquiries do not come free. Inquiry instances are often part and parcel of a RAS (research and advisory service). Therefore, leveraging inquiries is a great way to get value from your analyst firm research subscriptions. If you don’t have any subscriptions, it’s time to assess whether you should invest in a one-off inquiry purchase, or bundle it with a firm subscription.
An inquiry is an under-utilised competitive weapon. It is usually a 30mn call (sometimes an email or an in person meeting) with an industry expert who will answer your questions and provide insight based on up to 1,000s of customer conversations they have each year. This multiplier will save you time and resources by capitalising on the unique analyst vantage point, informed by their close relationships with technology and service end-users and buyers, market vendors and providers and other ecosystem participants, including regulators and investors.
Inquiries are an enabler of one of the four key impacts of AR: insights. They must be used thoughtfully to get the biggest benefit from them. Below are three examples of how you can maximise the benefits from your inquiry time.
Inquiry tactic #1: Get an external perspective to inform internal decisions and avoid costly mistakes.
Internal debates around product roadmaps or business strategy can easily become clouded by company politics. When this happens, it can be useful to provide context from an independent industry expert, such as an analyst. Through an inquiry call, you can explain the thought process from all sides and get advice on how best to proceed based on what the analyst is seeing in the market and what they’re hearing from customers. This trusted third-party advisor can help generate consensus and set your business on the right track. More importantly, the advice received can help you avoid expensive mistakes –such as acquiring the wrong target company, partnering with an unsuitable local distributor or hiring someone that won’t fit your culture.
Inquiry tactic #2: Feel the market pulse and ensure the right product-market fit.
Industry analysts speak to your clients and competitors every single day. A regular cadence of inquiries with key analysts in your area will provide great insight on the market pulse. They’ll know if there are any problems customers are having with your products, if there has been a big shift in the market or any upcoming regulatory and compliance changes you need to be aware of. They are a competitive weapon that arms you with insights. This is particularly helpful for a tech startup trying to navigate their market and prepare for entry with the perfect product-market fit.
Choosing to leverage an analyst inquiry is like buying your bread from a shop rather than baking it yourself. You end up with similar results, but the quality, timing and ease of getting there differs greatly. The advantage of an analyst inquiry is that they are already having these conversations with your clients and potential buyers. There is no need to spend the time doing interviews and surveys to get access to the collective knowledge of the industry, just schedule one call instead. The time to execute is greatly reduced, which is key for time-sensitive issues. Add-on the quality seal of approval from the external, third-party validation of an analyst and you meet all three criteria. It’s why most of us buy our bread from the shop, we want quality bread with no fuss exactly when we need it. Although, that hasn’t stopped Ludovic from trying to perfect his sourdough.
Inquiry tactic #3: Message test for maximum impact before D-day.
Landing your key messages in market is an important strategy for any business. Analysts can help here by reviewing any messaging and advising on your positioning. This is an opportunity for PR and AR to work together, to leverage the analyst expertise in fine-tuning important press releases or blog posts before they are pushed out to the public. Inquiries help you do this in a controlled, low-risk, environment. Think of analysts as an insurance policy to test your ideas and avoid costly mistakes. This will result in a go-to-market strategy with a clear message that cuts through the noise and reaches your key audience.
Start now to get ROI from your research contracts with analyst inquiries and get smarter faster.
The truth is that most vendors under-use their RAS contracts. When well planned, inbound AR generally and inquiries in particular will provide insight that you cannot get anywhere else. This third-party expertise allows you to navigate business problems, understand your market and elevate your positioning with the public. You could get this yourself –after all analysts aren’t gods ; it will just take you longer. Way longer.
If you aren’t already leveraging this opportunity, the time to start is now. Use these three examples as a foundation for your inquiry strategy and look out for the IIAR> paper to be published soon on running an inquiry for more tips and tricks.