How to Build an Analyst Briefing Deck for Your Start-up
How many times have you rebuilt your company’s pitch deck? Too many to count? You’re not alone.
Building a pitch deck is confusing process. You probably have several versions sitting in a folder so you can easily pick out the deck that best matches the person(s) you’re pitching. Maybe you’ve already used one or more of those decks for an analyst briefing. How do you know if your briefing deck met the analyst’s expectations, or even delivered the information they were hoping for?
An analyst briefing is an opportunity to engage with an industry expert who’s actively talking to your potential buyers and writing research in your space. Many industry analyst firms accept briefings at no cost to you. You can usually find a briefing request form somewhere on the research firm’s website.
A briefing is accepted and scheduled when an analyst aligned to your space agrees to learn more about your product, innovation or customer base. They might take the briefing because they’ve never heard of your company, are particularly intrigued by your niche market, or maybe they’re actively writing research and could use your conversation to echo or inform research observations.
Either way, before you create your briefing deck it’s important to understand how briefing calls work. They’re basically a one-way communication street, unlike inquiry calls, which are two-way dialogue (usually under NDA).
Briefings are a vehicle to share information, with acceptance that you’re going to get little to no feedback. However if you’re doing a briefing with an analyst firm that you subscribe to you can schedule an inquiry call afterward to get feedback and thoughts from the analyst.
It’s important to put time and thought into your briefing, especially as you won’t have that guaranteed feedback loop.
So, what’s the point of a briefing call?
Analyst briefings are a platform. A way to build market awareness and amplify your brand. Many analysts contribute to industry publications, do podcasts and blog, so in some cases a strong briefing can result in the analyst writing or mentioning the work you’re doing in some way. You might get an invitation to participate in an analyst survey as a result of the briefing too. Sometimes (read: often times) the result of a positive briefing isn’t immediate. Regardless, a briefing is an opportunity to connect with an industry expert and build a relationship over time. I’ve known many CEOs and founders who developed genuine and long-lasting friendships with industry analysts.
But back to the deck. If you’re going to do a briefing with possibly no pre-existing relationship and no defined outcome, how do you know what you’re supposed to cover?
Think of a briefing as a relationship, not a transaction.
Many of the analysts you’ll meet along the way have spent years working in leadership, development and research roles on the corporate side of the fence. No matter what firm these analysts represent, they themselves are innovators and love to engage with peers and industry experts with unique POVs or observations, whether they’re paying for a research seat or not.
Do your homework. Put the same amount of effort into this briefing as you’d put into an inventor, prospect or partnership. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Check out the research the analyst has produced. Knowing what the analyst has written about will help you connect themes and relate your story to their area of focus.
Read their bio. Pay attention to their background and experiences. Tailor your talk track and anecdotes to relate to their perspective.
Don’t make the conversation about you. This isn’t an opportunity for self-congratulatory fanfare. This is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on a market challenge and why your product/service/solution is making industry headway and helping end users.
Now it’s time to start constructing. A strong pitch deck starts with storytelling, no matter who you’re pitching to. You can repurpose content you already have but tweak it to add context or emphasis based on the analyst you’re briefing. You can even add some market observation quotes or stats from the analyst’s firm to correlate your messages.
Lean on personal or customer anecdotes, a compelling case study or introductory narration to set the stage for why your company exists and most importantly – why it matters.
You won’t have a lot of time for your briefing (usually 30-45 minutes), so keep it brief! Use minimal copy on slides, work with a designer to make it visual – focus on telling your narrative in a visually compelling way. You want your deck to be cohesive and self-explanatory; analysts will often keep and refer to decks so make it clear and compelling.
Try to limit your deck to 15 slides or less. You can include supporting data/slides as appendices.
Now, let’s add some substance, and bring life, purpose and storytelling to your deck!
Company Overview (Your Origin Story)
Usually 1 overview/brag slide that showcases key business details like where you’re based, office locations, how many employees you have, key timeline details like fundraises or when your product was launched.
If you’re in stealth mode or super early stage, use this slide to highlight you and/or your team’s background, why you’re rallying around invention.
Market Positioning (The Market Problem)
Clearly state the market problem you’re solving for by highlighting industry drivers. Use stats and anecdotes.
Market fit – how you identify or most closely relate to current solution/tech categories.
High level GTM strategy (market/industry focus, who you’re selling to).
Key differentiation points. Use context or data here if possible that support tangible outcomes.
Introduce your product and its key value prop(s).
Include product architecture diagrams (if applicable), portal or interface screenshots, links to virtual demos etc.
Highlight delivery and distribution models.
Proof Points (Examples/Outcomes) – Use throughout and/or Appendices
Highlight use cases/case studies.
Include any metrics/data points.
Name customers/logos if you can, but remember this information is technically “public”, so if your customer or early adopters aren’t comfortable being named publicly consider anonymous case studies with details like: “national airline” or “global consumer products enterprise”.
1 slide highlighting high level roadmap details like planned capabilities and market expansion.
Allow a few minutes for questions just in case there are any. If you do get feedback from your analyst, be sure to address it in your deck. If the analyst asks for materials that you haven’t covered, be sure to follow-up with that information after the call.
It’s best practice to send a PDF of your deck to the analyst the day before your briefing. Sometimes that’s tough to do, but it is appreciated. Make sure you follow-up with the analyst immediately after the briefing with the PDF and offer to answer any questions they might have. They may invite you to schedule another briefing when you’ve got news or roll out a new product, or they may even refer you to a colleague covering a lateral niche.
Analyst engagement is another one of those levers that’s under-utilized in early growth stages, mostly because most believe that it’s not worth it, unless you’re investing budget in the relationship. In truth, the relationships you develop with industry analysts can stay with you through your company’s lifetime, and beyond.
Like most things brand related, a little effort goes a long way. 💫