In an episode of Meet the Masters: The Product Marketing Podcast, I spoke with Daniel Kuperman, Head of Core Product Marketing and Go-to-Market at Atlassian on all things analyst relations.
Daniel has over 15 years of experience in fast-growing B2B organizations, where he has built teams, owned go-to-market planning and execution, and helped businesses scale, transform, and create new market categories.
Through this experience, Daniel has gained a huge expertise in building strong relationships with analyst teams, which is what we’ll focus on in this article, along with what you can learn from our Analyst Relations Certified: Masters course – a course that Daniel himself built from his experience in the field.
This article looks at:
- Why PMMs need to build strong relationships with analysts
- How your analyst relations program can fuel cross-functional collaboration
- The level of focus you should be putting into your analyst relations strategy
- The golden rules for building an analyst relations program from scratch
- The key pillar of your analyst relations strategy
- How not to build an analyst relations strategy
- How to leverage cross-functional resources to build successful relationships
- The components of a good analyst briefing deck
- How to figure out the budget you need for your analyst relations strategy
- The key metrics you need to measure to impress analysts
Why PMMs need to build strong relationships with analysts
For some people, it might be quite surprising or even daunting to learn that they need an entire course on building relationships with analysts.
It'd be great to hear how you found the process of building this course and why analyst relations is such an important skill for product marketers to master.
When it comes to building the course itself, PMA has a fantastic setup. It’s clear that you guys have been doing this for a while. When I got there, everything was set up, it was super professional, and all the recording was great.
The process of building the course involved a lot of back and forth between myself and people from PMA who were giving me feedback. There were also third parties involved; PMA asked other product marketers to take a look, quality check, and see what we were missing.
Having people from the community pitching in and making sure that the course makes sense and is applicable was really useful for me as an instructor. It let me know that, yes, I am going in the right direction, and the subject matter does make sense to people.
The interesting thing about analyst relations is it's not typically the first subject that would come to anyone's mind when talking about product marketing.
However, especially if you're in a very, very competitive market, it can mean the difference between a lot of people being interested in your product and you flying under the radar and not being shortlisted. There's a lot of trust and brand awareness that comes with analysts.
While it's not one of the top three topics you might think about (things like sales enablement and competitive intelligence come first, and I understand that) if you don't have a solid plan for your analyst relations strategy, it’s going to be very, very difficult – especially if you're in a very highly competitive environment.
How your analyst relations program can fuel cross-functional collaboration
In product marketing, one of the staple things that everyone talks about is how important collaboration is, not just within your own team, but also across other teams.
Can you tell us a bit about how analyst relations can help you to do that in your role as a product marketer?
Sure. While some larger companies have entire departments focusing full-time on analyst relations, in a lot of companies – especially smaller startups or midsize organizations – product marketing really is the owner of the relationship between the analyst and the product.
However, behind that PMM, there are a lot of other people that help to get the right information out to the analysts. That includes your product team, your sales engineers, and maybe even your finance and public relations teams, who are going to let you know what historical and financial information you can disclose to analysts.
In a sense, the product marketer plays a coordination role when it comes to gathering information from multiple departments inside a company, packaging that up, and providing it in a narrative form to the analysts so that they understand the background of the company, what is happening, why you are successful, and your position in the market. It's a team effort.
Another interesting thing to think about is that gathering information for analysts is a great way for you as a product marketer to start making connections with other teams. That can really help you in your career as a PMM.
The level of focus you should be putting into your analyst relations strategy
Product marketers are juggling so many different strategies these days. How much focus should they be putting into their analyst relations strategy?
That is the key question, right? Is it a full-time job or not? Should I hire 10 people for it? Should I do it alone? Unfortunately, the answer is… it depends. If you're in a startup, you may not have the budget or the manpower to just put behind an analyst program. If you're in a larger organization, you definitely have more leeway.
It depends on the size of the company, but it also depends on your stage as a company and where your product is in the market. Is it just entering an existing market or is your product creating a whole new category? How mature is your market? How is the competition? Is it highly competitive, or are you disrupting the handful of really well-known incumbents?
We talk about all of these factors in the course and discuss how to adjust them to your reality. That way, you can make sure that the AR program proposal you put forth to your boss, the executive team, or the CEO is going to make sense for your company.
The golden rules for building an analyst relations program from scratch
If you’re building an analyst relations program from scratch, what are the golden rules you should follow?
The first rule is don't try to do too much. There are so many analyst firms that you can't possibly cover all of them, and you shouldn't. You have to pick the top three at the most key strategic firms – Gartner, Forrester, ESG, it doesn't really matter – depending on your industry and your market. Who are those influential firms that you really want to get to know and you want to make sure they get to know you? Start small but think big.
Next, you want to map the other firms you're going to engage with over the next few years. If you can prove the program works, you’ll get a budget for more people. That's the first nugget.
The second nugget is to make sure that you're not just doing analyst relations for the sake of talking to analysts and getting published in a report. There's way more to a good analyst relations program than a Magic Quadrant and a Wave Report. There's a lot of competitive information and product feedback you can get, too.
Think about all of the great ways you can leverage analysts for your marketing program because that's going to help you build a case for why you should engage with them in the first place.
In the course, we walk you through a series of steps as well as all of those possibilities – not only competitive and market research but product feedback – so that you can start thinking more strategically about what you’re going to get out of it, how much effort you’re going to put into it, and who you should talk to from an analyst firm to make the program work for you
The key pillar of your analyst relations strategy
What do you consider to be the key pillar for any analyst relations strategy? Obviously, there's a lot that goes into it, but what is the one thing that you think everyone should really take notice of?
That's a tough question. I've done a lot of analyst relations and been in many teams that all do analyst relations a little bit differently. I've also made a lot of mistakes along the way. I think that if there's one thing that I really learned, it’s that you've got to tie everything to a core narrative.
You already have core messaging and positioning – make sure that that carries over through your analyst relations program. Every slide you present, every interaction you have, and every customer story you share should reinforce that core messaging and positioning.
Otherwise, analysts are going to be hearing one thing from you, seeing something else on the website, and hearing something else from customers.
In short, your messaging and positioning need to be the underlying foundation that your program is built upon.
How not to build an analyst relations strategy
In one of your talks, you shared how you once worked at a company where the CEO promised things that you weren’t able to actually carry out. In the same vein, what are some other things that people really shouldn’t be doing in an analyst relations program?
You definitely don't want to tell analysts something that it's not true, that's for sure! Luckily, I was able to steer the CEO out of analyst conversations at that time.
Part of the analysts’ job is to look ahead and understand where the players are taking the market, and one of the ways that they do that is by asking about your plans for the future and where you see things going. You should be very careful about promising things that you’re not going to be able to deliver.
If you put together a roadmap slide and show where you plan to be six months later, before they meet with you again, they’re going to look back at that and make sure to follow up on it with you. If there are certain things in the roadmap that you're not delivering, they will ask about it, so be very careful about the certainty with which you put things in front of the analysts.
The other thing is preparation. Part of a well-managed AR program is preparing your team for analyst conversations. Let’s say you're sitting down with an analyst to talk about the next great thing you're coming out with. You have a bunch of people with you – someone to do a demo, someone that's going to talk about the founders of the company, and someone else who’s going to talk about a customer story.
If you haven't prepared the team on a cohesive narrative that goes back to your core messaging and positioning, you may be in a situation where people are coming out with different stories and examples and you have no way to tie it all together. I've been in that situation. I learned the hard way that analysts will give you feedback like, “This was a mess. It didn't make any sense.”
It's very important for you to learn how to communicate internally and align the team. Have a prep call and agree on who’s going to talk about what. You might even want to do a dry run for very important presentations.
If you're participating in a Magic Quadrant from Gartner or a Wave Report, you’ll have to conduct briefings and demos – live or recorded – for those outlets. It’s very important to get the entire team in sync about what you’re saying and how.
One of the other mistakes that I've seen and made is not engaging enough with analysts. If you're only engaging them when there is a comparative evaluation report coming up, you're going to miss out and your team’s efforts will go to waste.
Make sure that you have a cadence of communication with the analysts. Think of analyst relations as a long game with multiple touchpoints along the way to help them see your company the way you want them to be seen.
It sounds like analyst relations require a lot of the transferable skills that are strong in product marketing as a whole, like collaboration, communication, messaging, and positioning. Hopefully, the PMMs out there are feeling reassured that they already possess all of the skills they need to carry out a strong analyst relations program.
That's exactly right. Everything you’ve learned about messaging, positioning, narrative design, and competitive analysis culminates in an analyst relations program.
You're briefing analysts, doing demos, and taking information from analysts back to the field, so it's almost like a microcosm of all the product marketing skills tied together in one program.
That really helps you shine in front of the rest of the company. If there's one area that you can use to demonstrate the value of product marketing, it’s the analyst relations program.
There's so much good that can come out of a good program, like more sales, more competitive intelligence, and better sales enablement. It’s really the capstone of the PMA Masters courses because a good analyst relations program encapsulates everything else you’re learning.
How to leverage cross-functional resources to build successful relationships with analysts
How can you leverage different resources from across your organization to help you build successful relationships with your analysts?
There are so many resources you have as a product marketer. Choosing the right ones for the right time is always key. When you're planning your analyst program, divide it into different types of engagements. There are going to be briefings in which you're giving something to the analyst. There are going to be inquiries in which the analyst is telling you something. There are going to be reports of different types.
As a product marketer, you’ve got to think about what you’re trying to get out of each of those types of engagements. What’s in it for you, for the analysts, and for the company in general? Then you can think about the best resources you have in the company for that particular type of call.
If you're having an inquiry with the analyst, meaning you're peppering them with questions and diving into the details of a report, you may want to have different people in the room with you, or you may want to ask them to prepare you with the right questions. This is where it’s going to be really valuable to leverage the expertise of your sales engineers, product managers, and executives, for example.
One of the key elements of a good analyst program is a product marketing manager that understands those types of engagements and can prepare for each engagement differently, leveraging internal resources and collaboration across the team to get the outcome they are expecting.
The components of a good analyst briefing deck
We reached out to the product marketing community to see if they had any questions for you, and the first question we got is “What makes a good analyst briefing deck?”
First, as I mentioned, you’ve got to make sure that there is a cohesive narrative that goes back to your messaging and positioning.
Secondly, you should always keep in mind that the analyst is coming to you having talked to all of your competitors. They want to see what you can offer that's different. That means you have to anchor into how you’re different, why the market cares about that, and give them proof. Analysts are always looking for proof.
It’s one thing to say that this new feature is going to change the world; it’s another thing to say this new feature has already been used by X number of clients, and here are the results they're having. Don't leave the analysts guessing as to why this is important – feed it to them with proof points.
Those proof points are going to completely change the way that analysts see your company. They’re going to solidify in their minds how you’re different, why they should care, and what you’re bringing to the market that no one else but you can bring.
How to figure out the budget you need for your analyst relations strategy
The next question from our community is, “How do I estimate the budget I need for my analyst relations strategy?”
That's a tricky question. There's a module about budgeting for analyst relations in the course; the TL;DR is you’ve got to think about a few different elements: membership fees, events, and people.
The membership fees that analysts like Gartner, Forrester, IDC, etc. charge can vary quite a lot depending on the tier and type of analysts you have for your particular market. It’s typically an annual fee that gives you access to the analysts, reports, and a bunch of other things.
Different analyst firms will have different types of memberships that include more of some things than others, so you've got to be careful about which ones you sign up for.
The other cost is related to events that the analyst puts together. Some of the larger ones have annual or semi-annual trade shows, gatherings, and meetups which you may have to fly someone out to in order to meet the analysts or have a presence at their events. Depending on your stage in the market, you may want to do that. If you're a small company just starting up, you may want to pass.
The other part of the budget is people. How much of your time as a product marketer are you going to have to spend talking with analysts, gathering information, and researching the market? Do you need more people to help you do that? Do you need to hire someone that's going to do all of that and report to you? Do you need a peer on the team who is purely focused on analyst relations?
Once you’ve figured out your strategy and those three components, you can start laying out your budget. I’d typically suggest that you come up with two budgets: an ideal scenario budget and a minimum budget, and for each of them, you want to show the outcomes that you can expect.
If you just present an executive with a sum of money, they're always going to say, “No, that’s too much.” But if you can explain that with X budget, you can engage with Y number of analysts, and get Z out of it, that’s going to be a much easier conversation to have.
The key metrics to impress analysts
Our last question from the community is, “What are some of the most important metrics I need to measure to impress my analysts?”
Analysts are typically looking for measures related to company growth. They want to see if your company is growing because that tells them how successful you are. If you’re a startup, are you raising funding? Are you hiring more people? What is the rate of growth of employees year over year? That tells them you're investing back in the company for more success.
They’ll also want to know about the rate of growth in your customers. Your churn rate is important too because it tells them if your product is sticky and whether people are really using and getting benefits from it.
There are also some interesting ROI-type metrics that they might be looking for. How exactly is your product helping people? It’s one thing to tell them that people love your product and that's why you’ve grown so much, but it’s much better if you can tie that to the results people are getting by showing ROI, cost savings, or whatever outcomes your customers are getting.
The interesting thing about that metric is that it helps the analysts understand the value that you, as a company, are providing, which goes back to the core narrative and positioning. If you are positioned as a company that is going to help users and be different from the rest of the market, the proof point is in the value customers are getting from it.
How to connect with Daniel
Thank you, Daniel. It sounds like your course is going to be extremely valuable to anyone who wants to take it. It’s been great to talk with you about this.
Thank you so much! I think that analyst relations is one of the most underrated and important pieces of the product marketing role. I'm super glad that PMA invited me to do this course and help people learn from my mistakes. The content we put together is exactly what I wish I’d had when I was starting my career as a PMM. I hope everybody comes and checks it out.
Thank you. To wrap up, would you let everyone know where they can find you?
You can always find me on LinkedIn. I'm also very active on the PMA Slack community; if you haven't checked it out, it's one of the best resources ever for product marketers. We have multiple channels, and you can ask any and all questions there.
There we have it. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as we did. If you'd like to learn more about the Analyst Relations Certified: Masters course, check it out here. 👇