As we said in Should tech startups invest in analyst relations?, the currency startups should use with analysts is not euros, yuan, pounds, dollars, yen or pesos. No, the real currency is information (and the executive time to deliver the information).
Startups need to provide analysts with all the usual information such as strategy, ability to execute, product road map and so on. However, startups will be at a disadvantage to mature vendors in some areas like formal customer references. As a consequence, startups need to mix in some information or data that they are better suited to know and share. In this article, we will offer some suggestions for topics that startups might have unique insights that will appeal to analysts.
Customer stories – While customer stories are always top of the list of analyst wants, startups can offer some especially interesting aspects. For instance, what is the customer’s competitive situation that they think that the emerging tech or your company can address? This topic can be addressed even if you cannot give the name of the early customer.
Insights from the market – Analysts are always on the lookout what is happening in markets. Because emerging technology markets have fewer players – vendors and customers – it is harder for analysts to get updates through their normal vendor briefings and client inquiries. Startups can provide intelligence on the growth, stumbles, vertical industry adoption and competitive landscape that may not be available to the analyst in any other way. These appeals to the analyst’s need to be ahead of their peers (see Know your analyst – Novice, Luminary or Sage).
Technology trends – This is an especially good topic for startups because their chief technology officers (CTO) will be passionate about the geeky aspects and will have geek street cred. However, AR has to be careful that the CTO does not get down in the weeds and overwhelm the analyst with detail. Many analysts are no longer intimately involved with technical details – if they ever were — and usually are more comfortable with the 30,000 foot view of technology.
Market category definition or extension – There are some analysts who are coolhunters, always looking for that nascent market trend that they can publicize and be associated with. Part of the effort is coming up with crisp definitions of a new market category or the redefinition or extension of an existing category. While the coolhunter-style analyst will never take a startup’s category definition verbatim, startups can certainly influence the direction of the definition.
Connecting emerging technology to better known macro trends – Because startups are so focused on an emerging technology, they are in a position to connect the dots between the new and the established trends. However, because the startup is also so immersed in its little patch of technology, there is a tendency to over connect its cool new technology to everything in the macro economy. To preserve credibility, startups should focus on only those macro trends that have the strongest connections and support the startups’ strategic plans.
What are the VCs doing – While not as interesting a point to many analysts, some analysts will appreciate a discussion about trends in VC funding activity. However, startups should never use the fact that they received a check from a VC as a proof point for future viability or success.
- Actively seek out deep insights about your emerging market
- Mix in the unique insights with the more typical information given to analysts during a briefing
- At the end of a briefing, ask the analysts if they would like follow up conversations on a few sexy topics. This could prompt the analyst to ask for another briefing or two, which is better than the startup initiating the briefing request process again
- Startups should use their unique insights quickly after they identify them. In the Internet, information has a short shelf life so startups should exploit their ability to move fast.
Note : Readers should check back periodically over the next two weeks for updates to this article. SageCircle is experimenting with using social media to poll players in the market for their opinion on this topic. Additional suggestions will be added to the article as they come along.
Bottom Line: Startups should always be alert to the opportunity to include unique market insights as a means to engage the analysts and obtain analyst-requested follow up briefings.
Analysts – What does a tech startup know that would be really interesting to an IT industry analyst?
Startups – What other topics should a startup be looking to exploit that makes them interesting and standout versus mature vendors?
Are you leveraging all the interesting stories you have with the analysts? SageCircle can help. SageCircle strategists can:
- Train clients how to persuade early customers to act as analysts references even if they will agree to be sales or press references.
- Review information to be provided to the analysts to ensure that it is as powerful as possible.
- Critique analyst briefing content to ensure that unique startup insights are appropriately mixed into the presentation.
For more information on how SageCircle can help startups leverage the market power of the IT industry analysts please contact info [at] sagecircle dot com or 650-274-8309.