Avoid emotion when building the analyst list for emerging tech markets [Startup Saturday]

rocket-for-startups.jpgJust as with larger firms, emerging technology companies need to rank and tier their analyst lists.  Ranking establishes the relative importance of the analysts and sets a priority, while tiering is the process of allocating resources.  Based on the available time, money, staff, executive support, and so forth you need to group the analysts into top level analysts who get full attention and lower significance analysts who get email responses only.  SageCircle has detailed information on this process for traditional vendors.

So often the problem in creating these analyst lists is that emotion and the squeaky wheel syndrome play a larger role in selecting analysts than any real analysis.  What is needed is an objective approach to selecting analysts that give the best ROI on the relatively small level of resource available to the startup.

We have previously posted some commentary on why emerging technology companies can create business value by focusing on industry analysts and some of the common mistakes which cause them to have their briefing requests turned down.  We suggested answers to why is it so difficult for startups and entrepreneurs to identify analysts and the difficulty is creating those lists.

We also mentioned that the currency available to startups is mostly time and information rather than cash when determining if startups invest in analyst relations and the need for executive involvement.  All this brings us to the process of creating that all important analyst list.

SageCircle Technique: In general, emerging tech companies should use basic best practices for creating analysts lists with a few twists. Emerging technology companies should carefully compile information on those analysts that track their market space to both understand their relative influence on potential buyers and their real ability to provide advice on messaging, marketing, and product development.  The ability of each analyst to advise or influence should be determined in an objective fashion and assigned a score.  Based on the needs of your company use a spreadsheet to calculate a rank for each analyst and sort the list by the resulting value of the analyst.  The resulting list can them be used to determine the level of effort and resource to be given to each analyst, as well as a movable cutoff based on the resources you have available. Now for some specific tips for startups:

  • Double check your objectives to determine what sort of influencer you are looking for:
    • Impact enterprise sales (#1 for mature tech companies, less relevant to startups)
    • Raise market awareness of your company and market
    • Market category creation (the Holy Grail for many companies, difficult to achieve)
    • Et cetera.
    • It is a rare analyst that is influential in all areas. Align your analyst list with your objectives
  • Ask analysts which of their peers are best for your emerging tech/market. The best analysts have no problem recommending their colleagues or even peers in other firms… if asked
  • Seek out smaller firms that have developed a niche specialization in your area. Major firms can be fast followers of trends, but small firms are typically more nimble and first to recognize interesting new companies
  • Gartner and to a lesser degree AMR have specialized services for emerging tech, but you need to have your message rock solid and sexy to cut through the clutter. Potentially rank analysts from these firms lower until you work with other analysts first
  • Avoid rock stars at major firms. They travel too much and rely on colleagues’ research
  • Don’t obsess over just analysts, as they might not be as relevant for your market as other influencers

Bottom Line: Ranking and tiering is important for any vendor AR team, but more so for startups with limited resources.  Selecting the right analyst list is generally more difficult and requires more frequent refresh to ensure that the correct analysts are getting the appropriate level of effort for an effective AR program.

Question: How do you currently select your analyst list? What is the best method for assessing analyst impact in your marketspace?

How SageCircle can Help: If you need advice about how to build your analyst list, check out SageCircle’s two-hour and five-hour advisory paks or Annual Advisory Service. The advisory paks are easy to setup and pay for via credit card. We can help you by:

  • Review your influencer strategy
  • Critique your analyst list
  • Suggesting tactics and providing best practices for getting that briefing

For more information, visit our website or contact us at sales [at] sagecircle dot com or 650-274-8309.

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