Thanks for joining me for this deep dive into the world of analyst relations (AR)! Here’s a taste of what we’ll cover:

  • Analysts’ vital role in the tech space
  • The four steps to build your AR strategy
  • How you can engage analysts throughout your GTM
  • How to measure the impact of your AR strategy
  • Some best practices and hard-won lessons in analyst relations

But first, let me introduce myself. I'm Andrew Keating and I currently spearhead analyst relations at Beamery. That and my past experiences in product marketing and industry marketing teams, where I worked closely with dedicated AR teams, have given me a broad perspective on analyst relations

So, whether you're part of a team focusing on analyst relations, or you're a solo product marketer overwhelmed with launching products and wondering how to even get started with analyst relations, this article has something for you.

Let’s get into it.

What role do analysts play?

Let's take a step back and think about the role of analysts. Analysts are like brokers whose currency is trust and relationships. They bridge the gap between customers and technology providers. They’re the trusted intermediary that talks to both sides.

Now, sometimes that intermediary role can be a little frustrating for us in the software realm – we wish they were more clearly on our side. Customers can get a little frustrated with all this, too – they’re like, “Just tell me what to buy!” while analysts remain steadfastly neutral. 

We may sometimes do paid engagements with analysts; they may even advise us on go-to-market strategy. They may be paid by customers to help with an RFP (request for proposal), an RFI (request for information), or a purchasing decision. However, their effectiveness hinges on maintaining objectivity and trust with both sides.

As product marketers, we need to empathize with their position and understand what success looks like for them. Their success may involve producing reports, advising clients, or gaining new business. The service they sell – advice, market trends, and perspectives – requires us to step into their shoes and understand where they’re coming from.

How to start building your AR strategy

So, how do we start building an analyst relations strategy? There are four key steps. Let’s take a look. 

Step one: Define roles and responsibilities

The first step is defining roles and responsibilities. For product marketers, this means establishing a clear RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) or DESI (Driver, Executor, Support, Informed) matrix. 

In organizations with a dedicated analyst relations function, whether it's a single person or a small team, they will likely be the primary drivers and executors of this strategy. 

In larger, established companies, product marketing often plays a supporting and partnering role. If you're new to such a company, part of your onboarding should include meeting with the analyst relations team to understand and collaborate on the existing strategy. 

In contrast, early-stage or growth-stage companies may not have dedicated analyst relations resources. In these cases, it's crucial to clarify product marketing's role in the program – who will own and define it.

You might find yourself advocating for the importance of analyst relations to leadership and taking the lead in developing a strategy. This is a golden opportunity to step up and contribute to the company's growth and direction.

Step two: Identify the key analyst firms and influencers

When building an analyst relations strategy, it's crucial to look beyond your organization. Start by identifying key analyst firms and influencers in your specific industry. This information might already exist within your organization, or you might be starting from scratch.

Let’s explore a loose categorization of the analyst firms out there. The "top tier" firms, like Gartner, Forrester, and IDC, are well-known and cover a wide range of software and products. They have something to say about nearly every software space. 

If you’re selling to enterprises, you’re going to be engaging with these top-tier firms whether you like it or not, since all enterprises are talking to the likes of Gartner, Forrester, and IDC. That means you need to think about how you’re going to engage with these firms.

Then, there are the more niche firms, specializing in specific software areas or problem spaces. For example, in the HR tech space where my company operates, there are analysts focusing specifically on this sector. Identifying and engaging with firms relevant to your organization and product is essential. 

These niche firms, who are deeply knowledgeable about their specific areas, are particularly valuable for smaller or growth-stage companies. While it might be tough to capture the attention of larger firms like Gartner or Forrester, if you've got a product and a pitch that resonates with a specific technology space, then the niche firms are going to want to know about it.

Another category to consider is influencers – individuals or small teams who have impact and credibility in specific areas. These might be former executives or practitioners who’ve transitioned to consulting and advising roles. They might have left their day jobs to start consulting or producing research, blog posts, and other content. 

It's a great idea to start identifying the influencers who are active on LinkedIn, X (formerly known as Twitter), and other social media platforms. They can offer unique perspectives and valuable insights in your specific field. 

As part of your analyst relations strategy, create an inventory of these individuals and firms to engage with, recognizing the different levels of influence and expertise they bring to the table.

Step three: Develop an engagement strategy

Once you've defined roles and responsibilities within your organization and identified the range of relevant analyst firms, the next step is to develop an effective strategy for analyst engagement. 

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. You already have a go-to-market strategy, product marketing objectives, and upcoming launches. The key is integrating analyst engagement into these existing plans.

Start by considering how to inform and engage analysts about upcoming launches, but how can you go about this? For large top-tier firms, start by building relationships with key analysts specific to your area. Pinpoint up to five essential analysts in your space and prioritize engaging with them.

Next, set clear objectives for each analyst firm and influencer. This can be as simple as a sentence or two in your internal documents outlining your goals with, say, Gartner, for the coming quarter or fiscal year. Remember, achieving these goals may take some time – building relationships is a long-term, ongoing process.