Understanding Analyst Briefing Policies is Only Half the Battle
12 July 2010
On Wednesday, July 7th, @IIAR Tweeted “Hearing rumours about reputable analyst firm only taking briefings from current or about-to-be clients. Anyone else coming across the same?” This is a familiar rumor which can stem from a number of sources. Analyst firms change their policies, new, boutique or hybrid analyst/consultants have policies different from those of the largest firms, and vendors that don’t get their briefing requests accepted complain that industry analysts are “pay-for-play.”
Let’s address these separately.
First, we checked with Forrester, IDC and Gartner. All confirmed that they do accept briefings from non-clients. All briefings, be they from clients or non-clients, are at the discretion of the analyst. So, if your product, strategy, technology or company is relevant to the analyst’s research and is compelling, you’ve got as good a chance as anyone to get your briefing.
Second, there are a number of smaller analyst firms that have varied policies depending on their business models. Some firms take briefings from anyone about anything; the idea is that the shotgun effect will net them the broadest industry information and business development opportunities. Others are highly selective and due to limited schedules, emphasis on custom research or narrow topical focus take briefings only from a handful of vendors. Still others fall into a grey area of analyst/consultants who take briefings from vendors who are clients or are soon-to-be clients. These firms are focused on custom consulting, so they spend their time learning about the companies they specifically work for. Where the confusion arises is that ALL of these folks are generally referred to as “industry analysts” regardless of policy.
So know your analysts and analyst firms, or work with someone who does.
That said, let’s get to the heart of the issue; not all briefings are accepted. There are a number of reasons for this of course; wrong analyst target, uninteresting content, bad pitch, lack of news, timing not in synch with trends, etc. etc. The truth is, many briefings are requested with little or no insight into the expertise, research agenda or interests of the analysts they are aiming to speak with. The reason for this is that many vendors, and the agencies that support them, practice only Outbound AR. Doing only Outbound AR means doing only half of AR’s job – from which one can logically expect half the results.
Inbound AR consists of doing the research, preparation and relationship building to inform yourself before you strike out to inform the analysts. This is best accomplished through inquiry (which does require a client relationship) conducted either by the vendor themselves or through the support of an agency with dedicated AR specialists that hold research and inquiry seats. Executing Inbound AR nets the information about research priorities, emerging technology themes, areas of client interest, competitive insights and analyst opinions that not only ensure a briefing is accepted, but turn a briefing into a long-term influencer relationship impacting your market perception, sales and valuation.
Think of it this way; AR is a lot like the U.S. judicial system. Justice is guaranteed for all, but more money gets you a better lawyer. Likewise, analysts do not operate in a primarily pay-to-play environment – access is provided fairly to clients and non-clients alike. But paid access to the analysts and their research makes it that much easier for you to target the right analysts and understand their agendas.
The balance of Inbound and Outbound AR is the real secret sauce of doing Analyst Relations, and that is a rumor we can confirm.