Have you ever started a job and had to make your way around the office? Introducing yourself to all the teams you might work with some day and trying to prove that you’ll be a great asset to them. After a few weeks, you might work with some of those people and try to learn from them. Then you’ll suddenly become the person people want to learn from and face a whole new set of challenges. Analyst relations is kind of like that.
AR maturity won’t come quick, but there are clear metrics and turning points you can aim for. Many mature programmes aim for long-term AR plays, like category creation or reaching the leaders quadrant in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. In the short term, a more impactful goal is to understand whether you are truly affecting market conversations – one tell-tale sign of this is inbound analyst inquiries. Below is a quick view of 4 key milestones to get you there:
Step 1: Introduction – briefings put you right in front of those key players and allow you to make your case.
If you’re a bootstrapped start-up trying to start your AR journey, remember that briefings are free to deliver and the opportunity is available to any vendor who is relevant to that analyst. A great briefing will help you build awareness with these analysts, key for programmes who have previously focused on one geography or a single firm. Use briefings to activate the long tail of analysts in your category and start building advocates for your brand.
Step 2: Feedback – inquiries allow you to get full access to insights about your performance and advice on how to do better.
Unlike at work, you don’t need to get feedback from each individual. Analysts have countless customer conversations each year and you can funnel these back into your business, if you know to ask them the right questions. Use inquiries as your secret competitive weapon to tap into this knowledge bank and start making informed internal decisions, feeling the market pulse and testing your product messaging for maximum impact.
Step 3: Collaboration – once you’ve demonstrated your worth and shown up as an asset, you’ll start to receive inbound requests to inform research reports.
Analysts will know who you are and when you’ll be relevant to their research. They’ll recognise you as a thought leader and give you the opportunity to drive market conversations. At this point you are truly occupying analyst mindshare and you’ll start to see an improved position in their research.
The change of direction from outbound to inbound requests is the real turning point for an AR programme.
At Starsight we see clients move along our Maturity Matrix and once they reach this point there is a clear shift in activity and outcomes which demand a new approach and new KPIs. This is also when you’ll start to truly notice the difference between AR and PR as the conversation shifts into a two-way flow of information.
Step 4: Maintenance – sustaining this level of maturity is just as important as reaching it.
Reaching this stage does not mean you can now cut investments and sit back. If you start dropping communications, analysts will assume the worst. Instead, you must reach a level of process maturity and continue on your positive trajectory to maintain relationships.
When the requests start piling up, you need to watch out for spokesperson burnout and remain respectful of their workloads. This means you must learn when to decline participation in RFIs that don’t meet your wider business goals, even if it would be nice to show up well. It also means expertly managing multiple participations at once and driving those to completion every time. Then once they’re complete, doing something with them! A mature AR programme will link into go-to-market efforts using analyst content and feed expertise and insights back into the business in a structured way.
Starsight’s advice: pay attention to your AR maturity level and adapt accordingly.
- Monitor the maturity of your AR programme at clear intervals. If you aren’t sure how then reach out and we can walk you through the Starsight Maturity Matrix.
- Use analyst interest as an indicator of success. Keep track of inbound requests and consider measuring reactive briefings separately from proactive ones.
- Understand when it’s time to request additional headcount. Document the times you’ve had to decline participation in analyst reports and use that as fodder when requesting additional budget for AR agency support or to hire an in-house AR pro.