Using Thought Leadership to Drive Results

February 21, 2019

The foundation of branding in B2B marketing is and has been thought leadership. Almost every B2B marketer has developed some piece of content that is meant to push the needle in how customers and prospects view a company in the market. Beyond that though, thought leadership can drive significant impact throughout the buyer’s journey. However, the value of that content is consistently undervalued by the Marketers who make that content and the Sellers who are selling the goods and services of the company the thought leadership represents, creating an Opportunity Gap, as we found in our latest research.

In late 2018 Edelman and LinkedIn surveyed over 1200 Marketers, Sellers, and Decision Makers for the second year to understand the value of thought leadership. Our most surprising finding was that throughout the purchase funnel, the Buyers (or Decision Makers) valued quality thought leadership significantly higher than the Creators (Marketers) and Sellers of the content. This leads to underuse of a valuable asset in a company that could be driving greater brand awareness and, ultimately, sales.

The research conducted was able to find the impact that quality thought leadership can have whether a company is trying to build brand awareness, drive consideration, or help post-sale with cross-selling or making a customer an influencer. And if a goal is to drive influence with executives, we found that almost half of all C-Suite executives are willing to share contact information after receiving quality thought leadership, with over 60% of C-Suite execs willing to pay a premium for companies that have consistent, quality thought leadership.

To dig deeper, we conducted interviews with three top executives at large B2B organizations to get their takes. John Bell, VP of Enterprise Digital Marketing at Travelers, discussed how everything his team develops is designed to help solve real challenges customers may face. Jessica Jensen, Global Director of Marketing at Qualcomm, discussed the importance of thought leadership in Qualcomm’s marketing efforts to build authentic credibility for their executive team. Finally, Katica Roy, CEO of Pipeline Equity, mentioned the importance of thought leadership in creating a community.

Edelman and LinkedIn worked together to take the quantitative and qualitative research to help B2B Marketers find ways to actually implement strategies in the building out of thought leadership that can drive real impact. With that, we developed the Thought Leadership Flywheel. This framework is meant to help B2B Marketers capitalize on the potential of thought leadership and build business momentum. Our hope is all B2B Marketers can use this research and framework to close the gap and drive the greatest value possible from the content they create.

Learn more about the findings of our research here