How Industry Analysts Can Help Entrepreneurs Raise Money Getting venture capital funding is a constant game of selling, and it's far easier to sell yourself if independent third-party experts rave about you.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Getting venture capital funding is a constant game of selling, and it's far easier to sell yourself if independent third-party experts rave about you. Some of the best third-party experts are industry analysts at research firms such as Forrester Research and Gartner, whose analysts have roughly 230,000 one-on-one client interactions in a year.
Industry analysts publish reports, conduct events and do private consulting to help Fortune 500 firms understand the consumer and technology trends that should shape business strategy. Many analysts' duties also include discovering up-and-coming businesses, such as yours. The latter is one of several reasons venture capitalists also trust and leverage these industry analysts. Any good word from an analyst about your firm or your market can be valuable to share with VCs during investment rounds.
But only entrepreneurs who know how to engage with analysts in the right way will succeed. So how can you get on analysts' radar? Here are three tips:
Related: Create a New Market Category by Courting Analysts Your Customers Respect
1. Scour everything, and scrutinize everyone.
It can be tempting to think of analysts as a collective mind, but each analyst has his or her own specialty area. For instance, Deanna Laufer and Jennifer Wise of Forrester both write about mobile but from different angles. Wise approaches it from the marketing perspective and looks for innovative examples of mobile-marketing engagement. Laufer's audience is customer-experience professionals, so she showcases examples of mobile experiences to draw inspiration from.
To succeed, it's crucial to discover the right analysts: those who cover your space and speak with your VC targets.
To choose an analyst, start by reading everything you can get your hands on. It won't necessarily require an expensive subscription with the analyst firm. Check their blogs, social profiles and citations in the media for starters. It's even possible to find landmark research for free via firms that purchase distribution rights to enhance their marketing campaigns.
Next, reach out to the select few who could be most interested in your solution. There's an unfortunate stereotype that analysts only talk to their paying clients. While it's true that a subscription can get you more options for engagement, you don't necessarily need one. Besides, analysts are innately curious. They want to know about you as much as you want to know about them.
Related: 5 Steps to Carving Out a Niche Business
2. Develop a game plan and goals.
Craft a plan for analyst engagement with your maturity curve in mind. For instance, if you're just getting established in an emerging category, focus on introducing your firm as an up-and-coming player. Then, move to a more tangible goal, such as earning Gartner's "Cool Vendor" distinction, which is reserved for under-the-radar players. Those reports publish annually, usually in April, but analysts research candidates all year.
As your firm matures, extend your goals and maintain consistent communication with formal briefings. Say you innovate in a specific vertical. Demonstrate how you got there and substantiate that success with examples of your product solving old problems in new ways.
3. Get connected, and stay connected.
After you establish relevant connections, the next trick is to keep in touch. Put your best foot forward in those formal briefings, which you can request via research-firm websites. But don't stop there. Engage on Twitter and with blog comments. Attend events the analysts will keynote and the research firm's events. Reach out to the analyst to request an informal coffee or cocktail chat. Attend the research firm's events. With a ticket, you could have the opportunity for an official face-to-face meeting.
Personally share news and thought leadership and make sure you explain why the content is interesting to the analyst. But be selective; don't bombard them with emails.
With time, patience and relevance, you can earn the respect of an analyst to the point that he or she becomes an advocate for your product. Such validation from a trusted and independent expert will be invaluable in your ongoing efforts to secure funding from VC firms.
Related: Do as Successful Thought Leaders Do