Industry analysts can be tremendous resources to companies that are building and delivering products and services in the industry where analysts have an expertise. However, it’s important to find the right firm (and analyst) fit. And, you need the right team and commitment to get the most out of the membership. Here are three considerations when deciding the right time to start an analyst program.

What Analysts Provide

Most analyst firms work on an annual subscription model, where you pay a fee based on the number of people who access the research and the number of subject areas for consultation.

For a $10,000 to $20,000 (or more) annual fee, you can expect these kinds of services:

·      Analyst Briefings: At least one annual briefing with an analyst, who will want to hear about your company’s history, finances, offerings, innovations and future plans.

·      Analyst Consultation: To confidentially inform your decisions around launching a new product or service, marketing strategy or a potential acquisition.

·      Proprietary Research: Conducted and published by the firm.

·      Sponsored Surveys: Giving you an opportunity to influence the question set, to help answer your burning market or product questions.

·      Analyst Mentions or Quotes: Often, analysts will write about organizations and innovations they see. Additionally, some analysts will approve a quote that adds credibility to your industry bylined article or blog.

·      Networking: The best analysts are really good at connecting interested executives for mutual benefit.

Finding the Right Fit

Overwhelmingly, industry analyst firms focus on business applications. Gartner, Forrester and IDC are the most widely-known firms globally. These giants each have a broad focus on business applications – enterprise IT innovation, data and emerging technologies. There are many other smaller, niche analyst firms and consulting agencies that specialize by industry vertical and/or technology category.

Start by reading publications that cover your market. Note analysts and firms that are publishing or commenting on trends and developments. You’ll want a firm that is producing research, quoted in the media and specializing in relevant technologies. Before long, you’ll have a short list of potential firms. Review their websites. Call them. Talk directly to the analysts before making your buying decision.

Bonus Tip: While researching analysts, you’ll likely find a few market research firms. Make a note of these resources, too. Their off-the-shelf research could supplement or jump-start your analyst program.

Your Commitment, Engagement

Paying that annual fee is just the start. Be sure to commit resources to a) be the primary point of contact with the firm, b) monitor and review relevant research, and c) interact directly with the analysts. Work with your leadership and product marketing teams to identify the best times to connect with the analyst. Then, prepare, schedule and dive into the consultation.

The best analyst programs we’ve seen are two-way exchanges, where member experts routinely reach out to the analyst with updates and observations that transcend well beyond company activities. Think of the analyst as someone who eats, sleeps and loves his or her specialty area. They are constantly connecting dots and figuratively using crystal balls to predict what will happen next. Connecting with a like-minded soul in your organization is a win-win.

Not ready to commit to the analyst relationship? That’s okay. For this year, use some of your approved budget to purchase some of the market research you found when looking for analysts. That will get you closer to the market pulse without over-committing your team.

If you have an analyst firm you enjoy working with, I’d love to know!