Industry Analysts: Can You Buy Coverage?

Industry Analysts: Can You Buy Coverage?

I had a B2B startup founder ask me if it was possible to buy placement in a Gartner Magic Quadrant. The question shows a fundamental misunderstanding that the big industry analyst firms like Gartner Group and Forrester are “Pay for Play”. That simply doesn’t make any sense. You care about analyst coverage because customers care. Customers care because vendors can’t purchase it. The only reason marketers care what some industry analysts have to say is because some customers respect their opinion. The moment customers suspect that this opinion can be bought, they would stop paying for their advice. These markets where an analyst opinion really matters are often those where the decision is made by a purchase team that doesn’t have the time/skill/money/risk tolerance to perform a complete evaluation of every vendor in the market. They trust analysts to educate/advise them enough to quickly get the vendor list down to a more manageable size. It varies by market/geography/company size of course but if you are selling to a Fortune 500 IT buyer in North America, you may not get on a short list if Gartner doesn’t cover you (if you are selling to consumers, you probably should stop reading this right now). You can’t buy love. But you can purchase a date. So the entire business model of an analyst firm depends on customers trusting that the analysts are not biased for or against certain vendors. Vendors cannot purchase coverage in a report, nor inclusion on a Quadrant or Wave. Analysts do cover companies that don’t pay for their services. So does paying an analyst firm increase your chances of...

Working with Analysts is a Pain (but you Should do it Anyway)

Ever wanted to make a startup founder curse?  Try saying these 2 magic words – Gartner Group.  In big companies the reaction is usually about the same (with more politically correct vocabulary).  Why?  I believe it’s a case of each side having their own (very different) priorities and each not understanding the other’s point of view.  I summarize the opposing views like this: What Vendors Want Analysts that can understand their products after 1 briefing Analysts that will write positive things about their product and recommend them to customers Analysts that do not criticize their product, their marketing, their business model, etc. What Analysts Want Vendors that will brief them regularly and often Vendors that will pay them for advice, not coverage Vendors that value their feedback on their product, marketing, business model, etc. You can see how we might get into trouble here.  My personal experience has been that working with a few key analysts as you are in the design/development phases for a new product can be extremely valuable if you get it right. Here’s April’s Handy Dandy Analyst Do’s (and 1 Don’t) list: Do: Pick a Couple of the Right Analysts – you don’t have time to build a relationship with more than a couple.  Pick ones that focus on your market obviously but don’t be shy about leaving someone off the list if you think he/she might be too hard to deal with (ask around, read their blogs, check them out on Twitter – jerky-ness is easy to spot). Invest Time – schedule regular calls and don’t expect them to get what you do after...