Monday, August 12, 2013

When consulting firms publish online

Thought followership.
Management consulting firms have been sharing their ideas online since the appearance of the World Wide Web. This trolling for new clients has had mixed results.

A survey of 50 firms by the Bloom Group and the Association of Management Consulting Firms found:
While consulting firms have no shortage of innovative insights, many of those ideas don't appear to make it to their websites. Half the respondents published 20 or fewer articles on their websites last year. Only 30% published more than 50 articles. And two-thirds of the content was written by consultants themselves; about one-third of consultants are averse to using ghostwriters.  
Many consulting firms generate few client inquiries from their online content. Half of consulting firms say their online publications generated 20 or fewer inquiries in 2012; only 14% generated more than 100 inquiries. Despite many consulting firms’ online publications being a source of sales leads, less than a third have automated the process of sending online viewer information to business developers, and only 21% say their salespeople actively use the information marketers give them about online viewers. For online content to spawn leads, it appears that quality trumps quantity. Consulting firms whose online publications generated the highest number of client inquiries in 2012 (a group we refer to as "leaders") actually produced less content per $1 million dollar in firm revenue than did the firms with the lowest number of inquiries.  
The online content of leaders was far more often based on primary research than was laggards' content. As a result, we surmise that the leaders' content was of higher quality. In addition, the marketing function in the leaders determined which content deserved extensive marketing campaigns; this was the case in only half the laggards, where consultants made that decision. As well, the leaders were much more open to allowing online viewers to post comments this year on their firm's website. And they relied more heavily on ghostwriters to publish content, rather than wait for consultants to carve out time to pen articles. 
One conclusion of the researchers: As consulting firms move the majority of their thought leadership content online, many cling to a publishing model that's a relic of the print era: hosting a monologue rather than a dialogue with the online viewers of their content. 

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