Why startups have their briefing requests turned down [Startup Saturday]

rocket-for-startups.jpgMarketing managers at startups and intrapreneurs (functions like an entrepreneur but within large companies) often get frustrated because their requests to brief an analyst are often turned down. They then start thinking it’s because they don’t have a contract with the firm (see Should tech startups invest in analyst relations?). Alas, the problem of getting a briefing accepted is not as easy as writing a check for some analyst services.

When startups have trouble getting analysts’ attention, or their requests to meet for a briefing are turned down, it is usually because the company’s team members:

  • Do not understand the analysts’ business models and research methodologies
    • Problem: They do not know how to pick analysts that have a predisposition to listening to startups  versus those primarily interested in larger, well-established vendors
  • Have not done the necessary homework or do not know how to build a valid analyst list
  • Have not investigated the analysts’ opinions and research on the market
    • Problem: They are not presenting their products/services in a way that fits into a particular analyst’s worldview and recent research
  • Have not investigated the analysts’ calendars to determine whether the proposed briefing date is realistic
    • Problem: The vendor may be suggesting a time period when analysts have established commitments (e.g. such as a major analyst conference or industry event)
  • Do not provide the analysts with interesting data points and market insights during a briefing
    • Problem: By talking about only their own company, associates miss the opportunity to give the analysts a reason to talk to them again
  • Do not have a crisply differentiated message that is tuned to the particular analyst
    • Problem: A “boring” message will not get the attention of a busy analyst trying to reduce the number of vendors he or she has to cover

Bottom Line: If a startup is getting turned down by the analysts, they need to investigate why this happening and not jump to the conclusion that it’s a pay-to-play issue. There might be underlying issues that require correction before trying again to get a briefing appointment.

Question: Analysts – Do you have other reasons why you would turn down a briefing request from a startup? Startups – Do you get reasonable and detailed explanations from analysts firms why your briefing requests were turned down?

How SageCircle can Help: If you need advice about how to get an analyst briefing scheduled, 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:

  • Analyzing why you are not getting briefing opportunities
  • Reviewing your analyst list
  • Critiquing your analyst elevator pitch
  • 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.



  1. The two major reasons I turn down briefings are

    1) Not my coverage area (which is social networks, widgets, communities, and a little bit of measurement, blogging and anything that I think could be the future)

    2) The message is not clearly defined: What the company does is confusing and is not clearly spelled out up front. Don’t start your pitch paragraph with your financial success or executive team (what VCs may want), tell me what your company does for customers.

    On a more general note, many startups have a hard time articulating what it is they do, what their niche is, what their focus is. Instead, to try to please customers, analysts, and the market they say they ‘do it all’ and then end up being nothing to everyone. Get focused, be specific on what you deliver.

  2. In my experience, people are often way too quick to ask for an analyst briefing. It should always be considered that your business model is about to be questioned by an industry expert. No one should ever think that bringing an analyst up to speed on your value prop, competitive advantage and new product launch means that you’ll be written up in a favorable manner. At Frost & Sullivan, I get requests all the time from clients and other players in the market to set up briefings with an analyst. I always stress that it is not a step to take if you do not have a solid place in your market. Frost is truly an independent analyst firm. As such, if you have a weak offering, poor service or other negative impressions in the marketplace, this will become exposed in later research reports. Of course, due to this, more credibility is lent if you come out on top.

  3. Hi Carter – for me, your last bullet is most salient. Too often, briefing requests from startups are positioned from their PR POV, e.g. “we’re getting the word out prior to DEMO!” So what? Let me know why I (and my clients) should care.

  4. Jeremiah: Thanks for the feedback on the primary reasons why. As to the “do it all” observation, I completely agree. Startups – and even major vendors – can wreck their credibility if they make grandiose claims they obviously can’t back up. My favorite saying on this is “Don’t let your alligator mouth make promises your tadpole ass can’t back up.”

    Dan: You are right that requesting a briefing too early can be another credibility killer. Better for the startups to scrape together the budget to become clients of a few strategic analysts. Then talk to the analysts within a client content so the startup can simultaneously get advice to make themselves more competitive and educate the analysts.

    Peter: Absolutely right. All vendors should figure out why what they want to get out is relevant to each analyst. Emphasis on “each” what is relevant to you at Forrester will not necessarily be relevant to a Frost & Sullivan analyst nor a Butler analyst.

    There have been many times I have talked to startups about their “analyst problem” only to tell them “You don’t have an analyst problem, you have a message problem! Come back and see me when you have that fixed.”

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