Analyst Relations: The Most Important Tactic for Startup Growth
Jun 28, 2016 / By Vanessa Horwell
In the world of B2B startup technology, the exciting ideas about business growth get more play than the basics do. "Lean" thinking, disruptive value propositions, MVPs (minimum viable products), and growth hacking are commonly discussed concepts among entrepreneurs, investors, business consultants, and the tech-focused media alike.
But when viewed from the perspective inside an early-stage organization – rather than from the outside looking in – startup business success is still, largely, about regular old business success: Building traction; broadening awareness; attracting new customers, users, or clients; and scaling up over time.
None of those objectives involve much "hacking" or "disrupting." What they do involve: Hard work, strategic decisions, and smart investments in initiatives that drive targeted visibility and measurable results – and analyst relations (AR) is one of the smartest investments any startup can make.
Across each of the "boring" business objectives listed above, an analyst relations strategy (supported by an expert industry partner) can drive long-term success. Here's how.
Build Traction: For startups, "traction" is essentially evidence supporting a company's existence, momentum, and potential for viability in a given market. Traction can't be measured with a particular set of performance metrics; every company has a different set of KPIs assessing the market's demand for its products or services.
But one truism across virtually every B2B sector is that if the market needs what a company is selling, analysts are helping buyers in that market find it. Connecting with analysts helps position a company to capitalize on demand of the audience it serves (and inclusion in an important industry report amounts to very clear evidence of a startup's momentum and viability potential).
Broadening Awareness: Beyond the potential for business viability, however, is the reality of business visibility. Before potential clients can purchase from a company, they have to know that the company exists, know exactly what it offers, and trust its reputation.
Driving that kind of targeted awareness, especially in complex B2B and enterprise-serving markets, takes more than an attractive website and an SEO-savvy marketing strategy; it takes third-party validation, and recommendation, from credible sources that buyers trust. The most trusted and credible of those sources: Experienced industry analysts at top research and intelligence firms.
Attracting New Clients: Awareness breeds sales, but it's not always a linear path. The sales funnel deep and is time-consuming for B2B organizations – the bigger the buyers' budgets, the greater their expectations of potential vendors and service providers (and the more individuals involved in signing off on purchases).
As a result, many buyers will pump every prospective vendor for as much intel as possible – whether or not they're truly motivated to buy – just to pin down the tools and feature sets that will be most valuable. Since industry reports and research consulting don’t come cheap, analyst relations is a smart strategy for startups looking to spend less time on imposter buyers.
Scaling Up Over Time: Growing and scaling an early-stage company requires patience and long-term thinking – qualities analysts possess (and prize) in spades. The earlier a B2B startup is connected to the analyst community, the longer it spends in the orbit of industry intelligence. As a startup grows its support capability, bolsters its product line, and expands its client base, its analyst coverage can grow along with it.
That's why it's so important for startups to use AR to scale: It may feel "too soon" when they're still refining an MVP and living in the world of "lean" thinking, but B2B startup business moves fast: Without analyst exposure, any startup can fly under its buyers' radar once business growth comes down to actual sales – rather than "growth hacking"
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