What is the ideal stage for startups to start working with the analysts or building relationships? [Startup Saturday]

rocket-for-startups.jpgToday’s post is an answer to one of the questions outlined in Should tech startups invest in analyst relations? The question is “What is the ideal stage for startups to start working with the analysts or building relationships?”
The rule-of-thumb answer for this question is “much earlier than you think.” Analysts can provide a startup with valuable market intelligence and insights into what buyers want. Working with a small group of analysts – or even just a single analyst – while still in initial product development can help the startup avoid potholes in the road and speed up their time to market. By working with analysts early on, the startup will build strong relationships that will prove incredibly valuable later during the product launch phase. The startup will then have one or more analysts that can help educate the press about the startup and its products, resulting in more positive coverage. In addition, the analysts can steer the appropriate prospects to the startup.

 According to Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle at the SDForum Marketing SIG meeting, a great way to use analysts early on is as a sounding board for early messaging. If you are having problems creating a “beta message” early on, this could be an indicator that your ideas for your initial product or service might need to be tweaked. However, for this technique to work you must be talking to the analysts early enough in development for their insights to be easily translated into changes in the product/service specifications.
Normally, a startup would not want to brief a broader group of analysts – and may not require client status with many firms – until the product is in production and there are customers to use as references. Exceptions to this rule-of-thumb are startups needing broader exposure to get some beta customers and startups hoping to get exposure in one of
Gartner’s Cool Vendors research notes
Because startups have some unique analyst relations issues, we will be posting some articles specifically on topics for startups. These startup AR tips will always be on Saturday, hence the “Startup Saturday” in the subject.

Bottom Line: It is never too early to start interacting with the analysts. Initially it should be as a client of a few analysts in order to get insights into the market and build rock-solid relationships. Then once the product/service is near launch with at least beta customers, start adding analysts in a briefing context to build market awareness.
Question:  Do you have a question about how startups should interact with the IT industry analysts? If so, please send them to us at info [at] sagecircle dot com or leave a comment.