Our research with buyers of consulting services demonstrates just how important thought leadership is to them. Every year we survey senior end-users of consulting services, asking them to tell us their perceptions of the world’s leading consulting firms. In November and December 2017, given a choice of fifteen attributes, 3,197 clients ranked “Innovative approach” as the most important attribute when thinking about a firm, closely followed by “The methodologies the firm uses” and “Quality of thought leadership”. So, clearly, thought leadership—viewed as important in itself as well as being a route to demonstrating your innovative approach—needs to be a priority for any firm wanting to stand out from the crowd.
Many of these end-users of consulting services will, at some stage, arrive at your website. And according to SimilarWeb, for most consulting firms, the most popular route to your website is via search—in other words, they’re not arriving on a page that you have carefully directed them to. Firms need to do everything in their power to ensure that these visitors, wherever they enter your site, appreciate your thought leadership.
In order to simulate the end-user’s web search experience, we searched for three hot topics (analytics, blockchain, robotics) in conjunction with the names of leading consulting firms. And then, based on the entry point Google led us to, assessed how well relevant thought leadership was promoted by nine different consulting firms—and how easy it was to find more thought leadership.
While some firms scored well (Bain topped the list, followed by McKinsey), we saw plenty of opportunities for improvement. Here are three you may wish to consider:
- Promote relevant thought leadership on every page given that any page could be the entry point for a key potential client. And offer a succinct and informative description—an opaque title is unlikely to encourage the busy executive to click through.
- Make it really obvious where to find further thought leadership. Accenture, Bain & Company, KPMG, and McKinsey consistently offer a prominent link to “Insights”. Other firms expect the user to do more work, clicking on the “burger menu” to unearth the right link. And some firms don’t even do this.
- Ensure content can be filtered by industry. Executives tell us that they want thought leadership tailored to their industry. Make sure they can find it.