At Outside Labs we have the privilege of working with many interesting early-stage companies. One of the first questions we get is “How do we become a Gartner Cool Vendor or how do we create a new category?” While that’s a great goal to have, there are many steps between being in stealth mode and achieving recognitions like becoming a Gartner Cool Vendor. The primary goal for early-stage companies should be to increase awareness to key audiences and get validation.
Here are some tips to help you along the way.
Tip #1: Research the fit
Many early-stage companies gravitate toward Gartner because of the Cool Vendor, Magic Quadrant and perceived influence out of the gate. However, depending on your target market, it may make more sense for you to start with other analysts that focus on a segment of the market. Some analyst firms focus on end user relationships and on verticals such as service providers, healthcare, financial services, or manufacturing. Other analysts focus on technology and vendor relationships such as networking, cyber security, DevOps or cloud where they may be able to go deeper on technology differentiation. Or if your focus is split between geographic regions such as North America, Europe or Asia, it may make more sense to work with a smaller, more targeted analyst firm.
Tip #2: Articulate your company story
A benefit of working with an agency such as Outside Labs is the integrated marketing and public relations/analyst relations capabilities under one roof. We can help you define the company story. Before you step into your first analyst briefing, you will want to prepare by outlining a company overview, market position, technology overview and strategy:
- A company overview should detail what problem you are trying to solve, how did you assemble the team to explain technical chops and business acumen, the organizational structure, hiring strategy, value proposition, mission statement and operating principles.
- Next you want to explain the market position including category, competition, target markets, target buyer (by title or role) and where the budget for purchasing your technology will come from or replace.
- From a technology perspective you should be able to explain how your solution works, form factor, points of differentiation, tech/biz benefits, roadmap and why it will enable you to be competitive and relevant for the foreseeable future.
- Lastly, you will want to provide details on your go-to-market strategy, consumption model, growth plan and long-term vision.
Tip #3: Go deeper with analyst firms that provide strategic value
During the course of speaking with particular analysts or analyst firms you may find synergies where you want to work more closely with a firm. However, as a nimble early-stage company you may not have the financial ability to work with every analyst firm. You can determine the best analysts to work with and start with a small project that also provides third-party validation and creates an asset for you when the company is emerging from stealth, making a strategic announcement or another timely event. These include whitepapers, case studies (anonymous if necessary), webinars, videos or podcasts. This provides a valuable asset and an opportunity to engage on a deeper level with analysts without having to sign up for an annual agreement out of the gate.
Tip #4: Grow your analyst relationships
I’ve seen a lot of early-stage companies begin to engage analysts and then not follow up until their next product announcement, which is sometimes close to a year later. The best way to help analysts understand is to provide regular updates. This includes success stories, new use cases, product updates and strategic relationships (partner, channel etc). This will help you get included in reports, get recognition and most importantly keep your company top of mind as the analyst talks to end users.
These are just some of the tips that we have to share. If you’re interested in a more detailed conversation, feel free to reach out to us: email@example.com.