Creating your tiered list
There are hundreds of analyst houses and thousands of analysts. That means you have a large pool of analysts that could be part of your analyst programme. Approaching the programme with a broad brush is the fastest way to waste time, resource and annoy your spokespeople.
Building a successful analyst relations programme is expensive and it takes time. Spread these things too thin and you’ll fail. You need to be selective in where your energy and attention goes. You need to be selective in where you place your spokespeople’s energy and attention. You also probably need to be selective in the analyst contracts you hold.
The bottom line is, to create value, you need to be targeted.
But where do you get your targets from? Gut feel based on common sense is sadly not enough. To really drive impact and value from your analyst relations approach, you need to be formulaic. And that formula starts with the most important question: why are you doing analyst relations?
Analyst relations is a strategic discipline that supports the business. Everything needs to ladder up to your organisation’s overarching business goals. What is the company trying to achieve? Is it growth through new logos, is it going deeper into existing accounts, is it M&A, is it innovation, is it entering new markets, finding new partners? This is not an exhaustive list, but you need absolute clarity on the business goals and how they are prioritised.
From here, you need to set your AR objectives and we recommend you use SMART goals.
Once you’ve set your SMART goals, you need to really think about where your time, energy and focus is going. What analysts do you need to engage with to meet those goals? At the beginning of each programme, we recommend market research that asks directly those you need to influence where they go for their insights, advice and guidance. For example, if your goal is to go deeper into the existing accounts you hold, ask the contacts you have there who they look to in the analyst world (what analyst house and any specific individuals). This will give you a good sense of a shortlist. It’s a noisy world and your starting point should be that you do not know what influences your clients.
If your goal is to attract new partners or clients, you should run a market research survey and ask your target audience whom they look to. Only they truly know. And that makes asking them critical to success.
If your goal is to uncover insights into your product differentiation, you need to look for the analysts that have a deep understanding of your category, a history of knowledge, a vision for where the market is going and insights into competitor offerings and client needs.
Once you have done the groundwork, here’s the questions you need to ask:
- Which analysts have the most influence in the market?
- Which analysts have the most influence on your customers and prospects?
- Which analysts speak to your customers and prospects frequently?
- Which analyst writes about your competitors and product category?
As part of the research, it is also important to research which analysts have already written about you – if any – and what their perception is. Do you need to engage with any analysts that have the wrong perception?
Once the research is complete, you need to generate your longlist. With your goals in order of priority, weight the analyst next to each goal on a scale of 1 to 5. This will give you your order of focus.
It’s then important to tier the list into gold, silver and bronze. The total number of analysts you have in each category needs to be grounded in the realities of budgets, amount of time spokespeople can give to the AR programme and your resource.
You then need to decide what activity happens within your tiers. Here’s an example of how we tier for gold and silver analysts.
In summary, this is one of the most important parts of your planning. Get it right and you’ll succeed. Get it wrong and a lot of time, energy and budget will be misplaced.
It’s a 6 stage process:
- Business goals
- AR objectives
- Analyst longlist and weighting
- Analyst tiering
- Budget allocation / activity
- Monitor and measure. Goals change over time, analysts change over time.