As the Industry Analyst Relations Manager at Polycom, Jason LoGuidice is involved in every aspect of Polycom’s outreach to the relevant technology researchers, helping to make sure they have the latest information about innovations and new product development.

Analyst relations is an important but often misunderstood enterprise function within the broader marketing effort. We spoke with Jason recently and asked him to share a “state of the state” of analyst relations, and why it’s important to any enterprise that wishes to be seen as an industry leader.

What’s the function/purpose of analyst relations for the enterprise?

First and foremost, let’s define the term “analysts.” There are industry analysts and there are financial analysts, so sometimes there can be confusion.  Analysts Relations (AR) role/purpose is to leverage industry analysts from both an external validation perspective, and also as a direct conduit to our customers and prospective customers. We engage with the analysts as a strategic resource, which helps us to refine our messaging, and increase visibility and leadership role in the market.

Analysts are sometimes criticized as “pay for play.” Can any firm get covered, regardless of relationship with analyst firms?

While that is a widely-held perception, it’s not necessarily true.  Though analysts do have a unique relationship with vendors – as they are both objective observers and are paid by vendors for their insight and services – the good analysts maintain a level of objectivity.  There might be a tendency for analysts to mention companies that they have relationships with, but when it comes to ranking vendors against one another, very few are willing to jeopardize their neutrality for a short-term gain.  

How do you determine the most valuable analysts and/or firms to communicate with?

There are all sorts of different types of analysts.   Some create comparisons, some size the market, some provide detailed technical review of products and solutions. So you need to be very clear on what you’re trying to accomplish, and that will direct you to analysts with that specialty.

It really comes down to customers.  Focus on the analysts that have the most influence with your customers, especially as it relates to influencing purchase decisions.  Firms like Aragon, Gartner and Forrester certainly fall into that category as their research reports – Globes, Magic Quadrants and Waves, respectively – often are used by enterprises to determine which companies receive consideration for bids and RFPs.

Also, you should not overlook smaller, “boutique” firms that may have significant expertise in a given area, or around a trend, like huddle rooms. Wainhouse Research and ZK Research are two prime examples.

Can you share some tips on how to create/maintain strong analyst relations?

Trust and transparency is paramount.  I believe in taking a longer-term view of relationships and interactions with analysts that is focused on the big picture versus any single initiative.  Through this approach, these analysts are able to serve as strategic advisors to the business, and it leads companies to have longer term relationships that stand the test of time. 

Using video is a good way to maintain analyst relationships. In fact, 95 percent of my daily interactions with analysts happens over video. We regularly bring analysts into company meetings, marketing all hands, and customer meetings via video. We also use video for all launch message validation sessions and analyst pre-briefings.

How does Analyst Relations differ from influencer marketing in general?

Analyst Relations differs in many ways.  First, the nature of the relationship between an AR team and analysts is probably different than relationships in other disciplines. The analysts are our harshest critics, but we are also customers, which I think is unique.

The other element is their role as strategic advisors.  Many times we engage with industry analysts at the very early stages of a launch or product introduction.  Through this involvement in some ways they become a part of the launch, with their feedback on messaging and positioning many times being reflected in how we communicate more broadly to external audiences.

Finally, I think the fact that our top analysts also have direct relationships with our customers and are able to share the “voice of the customer” in a way that is more direct and credible than any other influencers.

Any final thoughts?

Almost all industries are changing constantly. Therefore, companies need to ensure that the analysts they target are adapting to market trends, and to have cadenced interactions with the analysts they choose. Companies should continually ask questions, and always be looking for new other analysts that may have entered their space.