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Everything you ever wanted to know about analysts (but were afraid to ask)

You’ve heard the term industry analyst, you know vaguely what they do, you may have even seen one in the wild, but what exactly does an analyst do? 

Typically, they do one or all of the following; advise end-user technology buyers on strategic purchases (through conversations and paid-for reports), evaluate financial data to track market share and industry growth and help vendors better position themselves in the market by offering feedback on messaging and marketing programs.  They will also frequently produce industry-specific reports and annual in-depth industry snapshots, hold ‘own brand’ events and roundtables/webinars, speak at public events and guest-speak at smaller private events and write guest columns and give comment in the media.

How do I work with one?

Some companies pay analysts subscriptions in return for regular conversation and guidance on business strategy in relation to their respective industries. This is effective, but expensive as you’re getting one-to-one guidance from a specialist.

Approaching analysts without being a subscriber to their ‘house’ is lower cost, but adds a level of difficulty when trying to get your company or clients in front of them. Analysts are in high demand and can afford to be picky, so paying customers typically get considered first.

How do I develop a relationship with an analyst?

Regardless of your company’s relationship with analyst firms, there are a few things you need to consider when developing an analyst relations strategy.  Firstly, they’re not going to be able to fit you in next Tuesday for a chat.  They are in high demand, as we mentioned, so their schedules are busy weeks if not months in advance. 

Do your homework – analysts generally have more in-depth knowledge than journalists on specific sectors so make sure you are up to date and are confident in your subject.

Keep the relationship going, as you can be as useful to them as they are to you, so stay in touch as a long-term relationship will be mutually beneficial.  Analysts aren’t driven by the news cycle like journalists, they operate on a different timetable so contact need not be news-driven.  Touch base periodically with company news, industry insights and observations on market trends and competitor moves.  Companies pay serious sums of money for access to analysts and analyst reports, so building these relationships is worth the investment.

OK – when do I call them?

Don’t call them when you’ve launched your product or service.  Plan ahead, give them a preview so they will have all the information to hand when they are next asked what’s coming up in your industry.   This approach has the added benefit for you of receiving valuable feedback and advice around your launch.  

If your client is the one briefing them, make sure the client has interesting and new information and insights to share and is willing and able to share insight on strategy, competition and market trends. 

How are they different from journalists?

Analyst briefings are not like media briefings.  The aim is not to hammer home key messages, it’s to inform them about the specifics of their industry from your perspective. 

The analyst may not include your client in a written report or mention them in a guest piece immediately, but they are influential and it is valuable to be on their radar.

Who should I be approaching?

Gartner, Forrester and IDC are the three best known and most sought-after analyst companies.

Gartner Consulting serves more than 14,000 client enterprises around the world, boasts $4.1B revenue and has clients in 76% of the Global 500.

Its ‘Magic Quadrants’ offer visual snapshots, in-depth analyses and actionable advice that provide insight into a market’s direction, maturity and participants.  Magic Quadrants compare vendors based on Gartner’s standard criteria and methodology.  Each report comes with a Magic Quadrant graphic that depicts a market using a two-dimensional matrix that evaluates vendors based on their Completeness of Vision and Ability to Execute

Forrester’s insights come from its annual surveys of more than 675,000 consumers, business leaders, and technology leaders worldwide using rigorous and objective research methodologies which involve over 52 million real-time feedback votes. 

The Forrester Wave is a guide for buyers considering their purchasing options in a technology marketplace and follows a publicly available methodology.  It assesses the core capabilities and strategies of these products according to the needs of its clients.  Forrester insists that vendors are measured equally, distributing the same questionnaire to everyone that qualifies based on the criteria set for their given industry.   Once gathered, information is scored against a scale determined by the analyst and what capabilities they decide are “best in class.” This information is what forms the Wave report.

Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG) and has 1,100 analysts worldwide and offers expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. 

IDC’s framework is IDC MarketScape, which is based on a balanced group of criteria that lead to market success (and viability for end-users), not overly weighted toward Offering Functionality or Company Size.  MarketScape involves assessment of product and service offerings, capabilities and strategies, and current and future market success factors of IT, telecommunications, or industry-specific vendors. 

The framework also provides technology buyers with a transparent foundation to allow companies to independently compare the strengths and weaknesses of current and prospective vendors. If you’d like any more information on working with analysts, we work with the best in the business and we’re happy to help.

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