In today's business climate, many b-to-b technology companies are taking a hard look at their spending on industry analyst programs and what return they get for this investment.
Technology companies traditionally look for analysts to provide credibility in the sales cycle. Analysts are also expected to provide insight into industry trends, technology buying patterns and product development strategies. All this is supposed to validate that the right message is being delivered to a particular market.
Do industry analysts add value to a company? Yes. But established technology businesses and emerging ones will tell you the value proposition has changed.
In the past, it was OK to have multiple analysts that just provided information and insights. Today, executives and marketing professionals need a deeper, single-analyst relationship, one that is in lockstep with their businesses and can add value to their marketing and sales initiatives.
But analysts tell us that their customer contacts are hoping to get even more out of the relationship. That's no surprise. Their clients' marketing budgets are under intense scrutiny from management, which wants them to shift to programs that directly tie to acquiring new customers or securing revenue from current accounts.
Although respected analyst organizations are consulted by buyers as they develop RFPs—or even make the final selection of products and solutions—technology vendors seeking a pure “deal flow” from their analyst relationships will be disappointed.
If you are looking to consolidate your analyst programs, make sure that the organization you choose is a true partner and that the individual analysts understand both the market and your business. Analysts should be regarded as a necessary expense, one that provides critical information for making better decisions and helping you to better position your brands and products.
The following are some guidelines for choosing an analyst firm for best use of your marketing research budget, showing management the value of this investment and optimizing your resources to get the most value from industry analyst organizations.
??Its paid client base is 50% or more end-users;
??Its end-user clients are in industries you are trying to reach;
??Its analysts, the individuals covering your space, have vendor experience, end-user experience and research experience;
??Its research reflects a complete view of the marketplace;
??Its research doesn't favor any particular vendors;
??Its research is respected by your internal organization—product management, C-suite, marketing;
??The analyst firm will allow you to talk to the analyst who will be covering your space.
Jeff Rappaport is CEO and founder of Outlook Marketing Services. He can be reached at [email protected]