You’ve no doubt read on other websites about the need to bring a publishing model to thought leadership marketing. We actually think the opposite is true: If you’re following a publisher’s mindset with your online journal, you'll miss a big opportunity to sell more productively. Let me explain.
Professional services firms have had their own management journals at least since 1964, when consultancy McKinsey & Co. brought its McKinsey Quarterly publication to market. Since then, many other professional firms have followed suit, including Booz & Co., AT Kearney, Accenture, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and big law firm Morrison Foerster.
In fact, B2B companies of every type now publish fancy journals for their customers, the most recent of which we are aware is from Google. In 2011, the search engine colossus unveiled Think Quarterly to impress the advertising world with its online marketing expertise.
It's a very good thing for B2B firms to have online journals. Since so many executives are doing much of their reading online these days, companies that sell complex services and products better have thoughtful content online. Yet that doesn’t guarantee that customers are reading their journals. In fact, new research we have conducted shows that some B2B online journals are not highly read at all. Further, there’s a huge gap in readership between them and publications of B2B firms such as McKinsey and Booz, which have commanded large online audiences.
Why this big gap? Marginal content may be one reason. But just as important is the model that one brings to an online management journal. If it’s a publishing model -- conducting a closed monologue with your audience -- you’re likely to have only a small online readership. If it's an open dialogue, in which you get your audience to participate online in healthy discussions on the topics you write about, your online journal can become an effective selling tool, not just a marketing tool.
My colleague Tim Parker, affiliate Jeff Pundyk (former publisher of McKinsey Quarterly) and I wrote an article that we hope will begin to alter the mainstream thinking about the B2B online management journal. You can read it here.
We welcome your comments.