I’ve been spending about a quarter of my time in the Bay Area for the better part of this year, a lot of my vendor-facing time has been with start-ups, and I spent much of my HostingCon time with start-ups whose executives have never interacted with analysts in the past, so a couple of FAQs are top of mind at the moment.
Emerging technology companies often ask me, “How do I get on your radar screen?” and sometimes, “How do I get you to write about our company?” (Venture capitalists often ask the same questions on behalf of their portfolio companies, too.)
I wrote a post about making a briefing request before; if you haven’t read it, I’d encourage you to do so, before continuing on with this post. So let’s assume that you’ve gone and asked for a briefing, and now you’re wondering what you should be doing to use that time to make a convincing case for why an analyst should continue to follow you.
Gartner analysts, as a matter of policy, do not take client relationships into account when deciding whether or not to follow a company. We choose which briefing requests we do or don’t take, and which companies we write about, solely based on whether or not we and our clients find a company to be of interest. If you’re a vendor client, you are always entitled to make an inquiry, tell us about your business, and ask specific questions — i.e., whether or not we find you worthy of covering in general, we are required to fulfill such requests — but it doesn’t get you any other special privileges with regard to coverage.
So, what makes a vendor interesting?
Client interest. If our end-user (IT buyer) clients are calling and asking about you, we want to know as much about you as possible, so that we can intelligently answer questions. If competitors and investors are calling and asking about you, ditto.
Unique vision or technology. If you’re doing something cool and different, either in implementation or the way you’re thinking about the market, that’s always of interest to us. We’re always interested in market mavericks, as well as people along the bleeding edge who might be tomorrow’s market leaders. We’re also hugely interested in blue-ocean companies, doing something that nobody else is.
Meaningful differentiation. Even if you’re not doing something that’s really unique, you should be able to articulate the things that meaningfully differentiate you from the competition, both in terms of where you see your company going, and the actual features and roadmap of your product or service.
Rapid growth. Evidence of market traction in terms of customer wins, especially enterprise customer wins, and fast revenue growth, is an indicator that we need to pay attention to you, because you’re clearly growing in importance. We like metrics, by the way. Knowing how many customers you have, how much you’ve grown recently, and the ballpark of your revenues, lets us know where you are adoption-wise.
Management team track record. If we know your management team from previous successes, we are much more likely to believe that your new venture will succeed, and will exhibit interest accordingly. (Also, if we have a prior relationship with you, our interest in interacting is likely to carry across between the companies you work for.) First-rate investors help, too; they’re usually a sign that some very smart people think you have a clue.
In short, your goal, if you’d like me to cover you, is to try to convince me that I need to know about you, because you’re going to be successful, my clients are going to want to know about you, and you’re going to be doing something interesting that’s worth my time to learn about. In other words, convince me that spending time researching you is not a waste — that I won’t be filling my brain with information that won’t translate to eventual client value.