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HOW THOUGHT LEADERSHIP IMPACTS
B2B DEMAND GENERATION
An Edelman-LinkedIn Research Study
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Executive Summary
About the Study
Key Findings Impacting Purchase Behaviors
Examples of Thought Leadership
Recommendations for B2B Marketers
Contacts
01
02
03
04
05
06
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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For B2B companies, demonstrating insights on
timely issues and trends affecting their
industries is an effective way to capture
customers' attention and create competitive
differentiation. To this end, publishing thought
leadership has become an important method
for engaging potential customers.
But beyond its ability to drive awareness, the
impact of thought leadership on generating
business opportunities has for many
companies been difficult to evaluate. Our
study of 1,300 business decision makers and
C-suite executives finds that thought
leadership goes beyond gaining attention and
impacts every stage of the B2B buying
process. Poorly executed, however, thought
leadership becomes a double-edged sword
that not only damages credibility but may
remove your firm from consideration by
potential customers. In fact, most respondents
are disappointed by the lack of valuable
insights gained from thought leadership
content. Despite the strong business
development advantages that thought
leadership appears to deliver, there’s clearly
room for improvement.
To better understand how thought leadership
impacts demand in B2B purchase decisions—
including the risks associated with poor
thought leadership efforts and how
companies can avoid such pitfalls—Edelman
and LinkedIn asked business decision makers
across several industries how thought
leadership affects their own purchase
behaviors. The results may surprise you.
Executive Summary
Strong Thought Leadership Makes Headlines.
But Does It Also Create Demand?
Thought leadership has sales
impact beyond driving awareness
It attracts invitations to bid (RFPs),
earns buyer preference by building
trust, directly contributes to wins,
and can even impact pricing
Disappointment with overall
quality of thought leadership
86% of thought leadership
consumed is considered merely
good, mediocre or poor in quality,
according to surveyed business
decision-makers
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Thought leadership is a highly subjective
term that varies widely according to factors
such as industry, topic and target audience.
Rather than universally define thought
leadership for a wide range of respondents,
this study instead aims to understand how
thought leadership influences B2B
purchase behaviors.
For the purpose of this study, thought
leadership refers to:
“Free deliverables that organizations or
individuals produce on a topic that they know
a lot about, and they feel others can benefit
from having their perspective on. Thought
leadership, in this context, does not include
content primarily focused on describing an
organization’s products or services.”
About The Study
What is Thought Leadership?
Formats of thought leadership include,
but are not limited to:
• Research reports
• Thought pieces
• Essays
• Videos
• Webinars
• Presentations (live or published online)
• Similar such items that organizations
make freely available (or in return for
submitting contact information)
Thought leadership, in this context,
does not include:
• Content primarily focused on describing
an organization’s products or services
• Paid-for client deliverables
• Subscription services
• Reports that must be purchased
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About The Study
Survey Respondents and Methodology
To help B2B companies understand the impact of thought leadership, Edelman and LinkedIn
surveyed 1,329 U.S. business decision makers across a wide range of industries and company sizes.
Company Size (Employees)
1-100 27%
101-1000 30%
1001-10,000 23%
10,001+ 21%
Seniority Level
Manager 43%
Director 33%
Vice President 10%
CXO, Partner, Owner 14%
Vetting Role
Give input 50%
Manage the process 27%
Final decision maker 23%
Additional Segments
Works for organization
that produces thought
leadership
51%
Works in high tech
industry
20%
Data collection Online, using the LinkedIn platform to
survey LinkedIn members
Fielding dates October-November, 2017
Survey length 10-15 Minutes
Margin of Error Total Sample +/- 2.8%
C-Suite Executives +/- 7.2%
Creators of Thought Leadership: +/- 3.7%
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RESEARCH FINDINGS
How Thought Leadership Influences
B2B Purchase Behaviors
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CONSIDERATION
PREFERENCE
PURCHASE
AWARENESS
Source: 2017 How Thought Leadership Impacts B2b Demand Generation[OPEN] How important are each of the following in getting you to engage with a piece of thought leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Rate each attribute on a 5 point scale where
1 is not at all important and 5 is critically important. (Top 2-Box Important). [OPEN2] Now thinking about the content itself, what are the THREE (3) most important things in getting you to engage with a piece of thought leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT:
Please select up to three below (Percent of respondent who selected that item).
Thought leadership influences customer purchase behaviors across
the entire purchase funnel
It leads decision-makers to invite companies to bid on projects
(RFPs), creates preference with buyers and deal influencers, directly
contributes to winning business opportunities and can influence a
buyer’s willingness to pay a premium for products or services.
Compared to decision-makers, creators of thought leadership tend
to underestimate its impact on influencing sales
Beyond its ability to drive awareness, very few creators of thought
leadership—typically marketers and communicators within an
organization—ascribe downstream marketing and sales impact to
their own thought leadership efforts.
B2B decision-makers are generally disappointed with the quality of
thought leadership they consume
They view most thought leadership efforts as merely good, mediocre
or poor in quality due to a lack of valuable insights gained from
reading such content. Given its potential to influence buying
decisions, improving thought leadership quality is a missed
opportunity for most companies.
Overview of Key Findings
Marketers struggle
to determine the
actual impact and
effectiveness of
thought leadership in
the buying process
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Decision makers value thought leadership and
consistently spend time with it.
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." [POV] How important do you think it is that organizations produce thought leadership which lays out a vision or point-of-view on important topics? [TIME]
On average, how much time per week do you spend reading and viewing thought leadership?
Business decision makers find thought leadership important, even critical. More
surprising: 16% of CXOs spend four hours or more per week engaging with it.
53%
55%
9 in 10 find it
important
Important
Very important/critical
38%
35%
4+ hours
1-3 hours
12%
16%
38%
33%
Half spend an hour
or more/week
AWARENESS
Business
decision makers
(total sample)
C-Suite
executives
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Thought leadership is key to gaining the attention of decision
makers in the awareness stage of the purchase funnel.
44%
55%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it helps us with lead generation and getting
new contacts that we can call on/Yes, it makes it more likely that potential clients will return or answer our calls/Yes, it generates incoming calls from potential clients. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [ENGAGED] How
frequently has the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You started following the writer/organization to automatically receive their update /You gave the organization your contact information for follow up / You
reached out to the organization/writer that produced the content to follow up on some of the points raised. (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time.
“Gave the organization my
contact information”
THE ATTRIBUTION GAP
How creators of thought
leadership view its impact
compared to decision-makers
42%
“It helps with lead
generation.”
33%
“It generates
incoming calls from
potential clients.”
31%
42%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
“Reached out to the
organization to follow up”
AWARENESS
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“Reading thought leadership is one of the best
ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of
thinking an organization is likely to deliver.”
63%
64%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
52%
49%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
“Looking through its thought
leadership is one important way I vet
an organization.”
A majority of business decision makers use thought leadership
to vet an organization and understand its caliber of thinking.
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it gets us more RFPs.
INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [PREMIUM] How much do you agree or disagree with these statements? Reading its thought leadership publications is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of thinking an
organization is likely to deliver to its clients. Looking through its thought leadership publications is one important way I vet an organization that I am thinking about working with (Top 2-Box Agree). [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after
you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You invited the organization or person that produced the piece to bid or propose on a project when you had not been considering them previously (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time).
CONSIDERATION
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Thought leadership led to 41% of C-Suite executives
including a company in an RFP opportunity.
37%
41%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." [OPEN] How important are each of the following in getting you to engage with a piece of thought leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Rate each
attribute on a 5 point scale where 1 is not at all important and 5 is critically important. (Top 2-Box Important). [OPEN2] Now thinking about the content itself, what are the THREE (3) most important things in getting you to engage with a piece of thought
leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Please select up to three below (Percent of respondent who selected that item).
Note: Refers to RFPs
where the vendor was not
previously in the buyers’
consideration set.
“After seeing its thought leadership,
(I/we) invited an organization to
propose on a project.” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP
How creators of thought
leadership view its impact
compared to decision-makers
17%
of creators who publish
thought leadership
believe that it attracts
RFP opportunities to
their business.
CONSIDERATION
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Strong thought leadership increases the respect
and admiration of decision-makers.
88%
90%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
“My respect and admiration for the
organization increased (after engaging
with thought leadership).” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP
How creators of thought
leadership view its impact
compared to decision-makers
60%
of creators who publish
thought leadership
believe that it enhances
their organization’s
brand reputation.
PREFERENCE
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [MARKETING] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it increases our brand recognition /
Yes, it enhances our brand reputation / Yes, it builds trust in our organization among potential clients. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece
of thought leadership? Your respect and admiration for the writer or organization increased / Your respect and admiration for the writer or organization decreased /It increased your opinion of how strong that organization's capabilities are - it enhanced their
reputation in your mind / It increased your trust in the organization. (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time.
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Over 80% of business decision makers said thought
leadership has increased their trust in a vendor organization.
82%
81%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [MARKETING] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it gets us more RFPs.
INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [PREMIUM] How much do you agree or disagree with these statements? Reading its thought leadership publications is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of thinking an
organization is likely to deliver to its clients. Looking through its thought leadership publications is one important way I vet an organization that I am thinking about working with (Top 2-Box Agree). [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after
you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You invited the organization or person that produced the piece to bid or propose on a project when you had not been considering them previously (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time).
“It (thought leadership) increased
my trust in the organization.” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP
How creators of thought
leadership view its impact
compared to decision-makers
49%
of creators who publish
thought leadership believe
that it builds trust with
potential customers.
PREFERENCE
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Nearly half of business decision makers said thought leadership
has directly led them to award business to a company.
45%
48%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
“It (thought leadership) has directly led
me to decide to business to a company.” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP
How creators of thought
leadership view its impact
compared to decision-makers
20%
of the creators of thought
leadership said “it helps us
close and win.”
Compared to decision-
makers, thought leadership
is more than 2X as effective
at helping to win business
than its creators believe.
PURCHASE
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it gets us more RFPs.
INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [PREMIUM] How much do you agree or disagree with these statements? Reading its thought leadership publications is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of thinking an
organization is likely to deliver to its clients. Looking through its thought leadership publications is one important way I vet an organization that I am thinking about working with (Top 2-Box Agree). [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after
you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You invited the organization or person that produced the piece to bid or propose on a project when you had not been considering them previously (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time).
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Close to half of decision-makers feel thought leadership helps
companies command a premium for their products and services.
49%
47%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer - NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it gets us more RFPs.
INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [PREMIUM] How much do you agree or disagree with these statements? Reading its thought leadership publications is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of
thinking an organization is likely to deliver to its clients. Looking through its thought leadership publications is one important way I vet an organization that I am thinking about working with (Top 2-Box Agree). [ENGAGED] How frequently has
the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You invited the organization or person that produced the piece to bid or propose on a project when you had not been considering them previously (Net of
sometimes, often, and almost every time).
”I am more willing to pay a premium to
work with an organization that has publicly
articulated a clear vision for the future.” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP
How creators of thought
leadership view its impact
compared to decision-makers
10%
of creators said thought
leadership “allows us to charge
more than our competitors
who produce lower quality
thought leadership.”
Compared to decision-
makers, thought leadership
is nearly 5X as effective at
commanding a premium for
products and services than
its creators believe.
PURCHASE
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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP CAN
BE A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD
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45%
53%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
Up to this point, we’ve seen that thought leadership
offers many underestimated and potentially
unrealized advantages to its producers.
But, as we’ll see later, not all thought leadership
rates as “good” or even rises to “mediocre.”
When it is executed poorly or fails to connect with
an audience, it can serve as a net detriment to
business development. At the Preference stage,
for example, business decision-makers indicated
that a company’s thought leadership resulted in
a decrease in trust and admiration.
“My respect and admiration for the
organization DECREASED.”
More than half of C-Suite decision makers have lost
respect and admiration for an organization because of
its poor thought leadership content.
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it increases our brand
recognition / Yes, it enhances our brand reputation / Yes, it builds trust in our organization among potential clients. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after you
have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? Your respect and admiration for the writer or organization increased / Your respect and admiration for the writer or organization decreased /It increased your opinion of how strong that
organization's capabilities are - it enhanced their reputation in your mind / It increased your trust in the organization. (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time.
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Over 30% of business decision makers have removed
companies from consideration after engaging with what
they viewed as poor thought leadership content.
30%
35%
Business decision makers
C-Suite executives
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer - NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it gets us more RFPs.
INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [PREMIUM] How much do you agree or disagree with these statements? Reading its thought leadership publications is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of thinking an
organization is likely to deliver to its clients. Looking through its thought leadership publications is one important way I vet an organization that I am thinking about working with (Top 2-Box Agree). [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after
you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You invited the organization or person that produced the piece to bid or propose on a project when you had not been considering them previously (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time).
“Directly led me to decide to NOT award
a piece of business to a company.”
Once again, we find that thought leadership must
be handled carefully. Potential customers factor
quality of thought leadership into their evaluation
and buying processes.
When it needed to count the most—closing the
sale—companies’ thought leadership resulted in
roughly a third of the surveyed business decision
makers indicating that it decided not to reward its
authors with their business.
The lesson: thought leadership requires care in its
crafting but also its delivery. Our survey offers
guidance here as well.
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WHAT DRIVES
ENGAGEMENT WITH
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
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Nearly 1 in 2 business decision makers are disappointed in the overall
quality of thought leadership and nearly all feel it is a missed opportunity.
26% 60% 14%
Missed opportunity:
86%
could be better
Poor/Mediocre Good Very good/
excellent
Percentage of the time
respondents gain valuable
insight from thought
leadership:
44%
Percentage of survey
respondents who are
disappointed by this:
51%
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." [QUALITY] What would you say is the overall quality of most of the thought leadership you read? [BUSINESS] What percentage of the time do you gain
insights from the thought leadership you are exposed to that helps you do your job better or move your business forward? [CONSIDER] How would you characterize that percentage? (Net of "Far lower than I think it should be" and "lower than it should be".).
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Relevance, timeliness and referral from
trusted sources matter most to decision makers.
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." [OPEN] How important are each of the following in getting you to engage with a piece of thought leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Rate each
attribute on a 5 point scale where 1 is not at all important and 5 is critically important. (Top 2-Box Important). [OPEN2] Now thinking about the content itself, what are the THREE (3) most important things in getting you to engage with a piece of thought
leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Please select up to three below (Percent of respondent who selected that item).
Importance of each trigger in getting respondents to engage with thought
leadership (3 most important triggers shown)
Sources
Forwarded by someone I
know and respect
Comes from a source
that I have opted into
Forwarded by my boss
Topic is something I am
currently working on
Ideas are completely
new and original
It is short and easily
absorbed
84%
86%
68%
48%
67%
70%
63%
63%
53%
50%
34%
36%
Content
Business
decision makers
(total sample)
C-Suite
executives
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49
50
67
45
53
71 78%
79%
66%
63%
63%
64%
Thought leaders must deliver facts, insights
and substance… quickly.
Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." [TYPICAL] Below you’ll find a list of typical components in thought leadership materials. For each, please rate how valuable or useful you
generally find it to be on a 5 point scale where 1 is not at all valuable and 5 is extremely valuable. (Top 2-Box Valuable)
Percent who rate each factor as important in getting them to
engage with thought leadership (top 3 shown)
Facts and InsightLength
Short-form 3-4 page
documents
Short-form 3-4
minute videos
Snackable media
that can be digested
in 1-2 minutes
Identification of new
trends or issues that I
should know about
The analysis of the causes and
drivers underlying important
current events and issues
The data (e.g., charts,
infographics, key facts or figures)
%
%
%
%
%
%
Business
decision makers
(total sample)
C-Suite
executives
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THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
IN ACTION
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Businessolver: Workplace
Empathy Monitor
“Businessolver’s thought leadership study, the
Workplace Empathy Monitor, helped us focus our
brand awareness and marketing efforts on a central
theme for the year, but perhaps most importantly,
provided us with a coordinated way to drive
engagement with our key prospects. We’ve been able
to leverage the power of cross-functional marketing
and sales channels to truly connect with our current
and potential customers, and start an important
conversation with our prospects and peers about a
topic that matters to the industry, our target
customers and employees.”
What It Is
Businessolver, a Des Moines-based provider of employee benefits technology, was
trying to find its place in a crowded marketplace. Central to this mission of evolving
Businessolver’s brand messaging was creating the Workplace Empathy Monitor, a
study that exposed a wide gap between CEOs and employees in how empathy is
employed in U.S. workplaces to inspire workforces and keep them engaged and
productive.
Insight
Feedback from the front lines of Businessolver's customer service and sales teams
revealed that their customers wanted not just benefits administration tools but a
better understanding of what benefits employees actually need the most. This
desire to better understand the employee led the company to conduct research on
the topic of empathy in the workplace and its impact on business productivity.
Why It Works
The survey findings and implications were packaged into a wide range of materials
that targeted key sales prospects. Additionally the study became the central focus
of in-person event engagement and incorporated into sales conversations with
prospects and customers. In eight months, Businessolver’s sales teams saw 40%
increase in inbound RFP requests (year-over-year), and most importantly, 8%
increase in sales – all connected to marketing efforts around the new positioning
and thought leadership platform.
Learn more at businessolver.com/empathy Rae Shanahan
Chief Strategy Officer,
Businessolver
PwC: Annual CEO Survey
“For any organization, thought leadership is an
important vehicle for sharing points of view related to
what's happening in the world. It helps executives and
leaders distill complex ideas to their fundamental
purpose. As a global network of firms, we know that
developing and publishing thought leadership can
catalyze change, inspire transformation, mitigate risk,
and impact critical decisions across business
leadership and even among audiences we might not
have anticipated.”
What It Is
For the last twenty years, PwC has interviewed CEOs in dozens of countries to gain
insights into the “tone at the top” for global business. The survey covers critical
topics ranging from digital disruption to globalization. The study is further supported
by exclusive CEO interviews and other media assets, and is launched annually at the
World Economic Forum in Davos.
Insight
While there is predictably high interest in business leaders worldwide, much of it is
anecdotal rather than wide-ranging and comprehensive. Further, PwC observed a
shift where the power-distance between CEOs and their company’s customers was
shrinking, providing an opportunity to help put their audience's ears closer to the
doors of corporate leadership.
Why It Works
The PwC CEO Survey has become a thought leadership franchise that gives it a
reason to have a top-level discussion with its customers, prospects, executives, and
media year after year. This creates annual anticipation for the study and its two-
decade history enables it to point to trends over time. In addition to the core study,
PwC publishes a series of rich content to showcase findings in an easy-to-digest
manner including videos featuring the global chairman, category-specific insights
and interviews with key CEOs. LinkedIn posts, interactive graphs, infographics and
timelines are optimized for social media and content sharing.
Learn more at ceosurvey.pwc
Bob Moritz
Global Chairman,
PwC
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Top performing B2B content categories on LinkedIn as measured by
overall engagement (total views, likes, comments and shares)
Timeframe: March-May 2017
Trending Topics by Industry
Technology – Software
1. Leadership development
2. Sales and distribution
3. Artificial intelligence
4. Strategy alignment
5. Leadership accountability
6. Security analysis
7. Sales effectiveness
Technology – Hardware
1. Lean manufacturing
2. Silicon carbide
3. Design principles
4. C-level leadership
5. Algorithm design
6. Data center construction
7. Data center consolidation
Manufacturing
1. Order fulfillment
2. Claims investigations
3. Graphics processing units
4. Facilities management
5. Waste disposal
6. Shipping and receiving
7. Plastics engineering
Oil & Energy
1. Energy audits /assessments
2. Solar energy
3. Climate change impacts
4. Sustainability consulting
5. Wind energy
6. Gas chromatography
7. Seismology
Professional Services
1. Management accounting
2. Sales and distribution
3. Strategy alignment
4. Human resources information systems
5. Marketing activations
6. Pay equity
7. Policy analysis
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Examples of Highly Engaged Thought Leadership Content on LinkedIn
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Recommendations for
B2B Marketers
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How to Make B2B Thought Leadership Work Harder
Thought leadership, done well, can
drive tangible business demand
Align thought leadership strategy
with demand generation efforts
• Align with sales and company
leadership to elevate thought
leadership as a cross-functional
business development discipline
• Explore thought leadership topics at
the intersection between timely
industry trends and your company’s
growth priorities
• Use sales-enablement tactics such as
customer engagement playbooks and
content sharing tools to directly engage
high-value customers and prospects
Customers want high quality
insights, not just product messages
Focus on delivering value,
not selling
• Aspire to journalistic-quality content
that goes beyond products and services
to educate customers
• Help customers understand the drivers
of current issues and how to be better
professionals day-to-day
• Explore how your thought leadership
can be an episodic franchise, rather
than a single event, to generate opt-in
subscribers (and captive audience)
over time
In B2B, personalization of content is
vital to breaking through the noise
Know your customer
• Engage frontline sales and customer
relationship managers to learn what topics
most concern current customers and
prospects on a day-to-day basis
• Evaluate the B2B buyer committee to
determine how customer pain points may
vary by function, seniority and role within
the decision-making process
• Instead of a one-to-many editorial
approach, consider granular
personalization, targeting and delivery of
content to niche audiences that is enabled
by marketing technology (e.g. website
personalization, marketing automation,
account-based marketing platforms)
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How to Make B2B Thought Leadership Work Harder
Customers need information they
can quickly absorb
Be timely, and brief
• Know the channels where your
prospects spend time and optimize
media formats accordingly
• Create short, snackable media that
quickly capture attention and entice
readers to consume longer-from
content assets
• Evaluate tools and data platforms
that signal timely content
consumption behaviors such as
search engines, predictive intent
data, account-based marketing (ABM)
and marketing automation
Plan for ROI before executing
thought leadership
Close the attribution gap
• Plan for an analytics and measurement
approach that will help you understand
content performance from awareness
through purchase
• Align sales and marketing on KPIs such
as MQL, SQL and other measures of how
content drives customer behavior (e.g.
marketing-originated or influenced leads)
Referral from trusted sources drives
engagement with thought leadership
Harness the power of employees
• Know whom your buyer is likely to know
and respect—they are your most
effective amplifiers
• Consider developing a social-digital
footprint for senior executives and
subject matter experts who can attract
relevant followers, creating a direct
distribution channel for thought
leadership content
• Encourage employees to share thought
leadership content across their
professional social networks – especially
those who are well connected to the
target audience (e.g. customers,
prospects, industry influencers, etc.)
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TO LEARN MORE CONTACT:
Joe Kingsbury
U.S. Managing Director, B2B
Edelman
joe.kingsbury@edelman.com
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Edelman & LinkedIn: How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation

  • 1. HOW THOUGHT LEADERSHIP IMPACTS B2B DEMAND GENERATION An Edelman-LinkedIn Research Study Powered by
  • 2. Powered by Executive Summary About the Study Key Findings Impacting Purchase Behaviors Examples of Thought Leadership Recommendations for B2B Marketers Contacts 01 02 03 04 05 06 TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • 3. Powered by For B2B companies, demonstrating insights on timely issues and trends affecting their industries is an effective way to capture customers' attention and create competitive differentiation. To this end, publishing thought leadership has become an important method for engaging potential customers. But beyond its ability to drive awareness, the impact of thought leadership on generating business opportunities has for many companies been difficult to evaluate. Our study of 1,300 business decision makers and C-suite executives finds that thought leadership goes beyond gaining attention and impacts every stage of the B2B buying process. Poorly executed, however, thought leadership becomes a double-edged sword that not only damages credibility but may remove your firm from consideration by potential customers. In fact, most respondents are disappointed by the lack of valuable insights gained from thought leadership content. Despite the strong business development advantages that thought leadership appears to deliver, there’s clearly room for improvement. To better understand how thought leadership impacts demand in B2B purchase decisions— including the risks associated with poor thought leadership efforts and how companies can avoid such pitfalls—Edelman and LinkedIn asked business decision makers across several industries how thought leadership affects their own purchase behaviors. The results may surprise you. Executive Summary Strong Thought Leadership Makes Headlines. But Does It Also Create Demand? Thought leadership has sales impact beyond driving awareness It attracts invitations to bid (RFPs), earns buyer preference by building trust, directly contributes to wins, and can even impact pricing Disappointment with overall quality of thought leadership 86% of thought leadership consumed is considered merely good, mediocre or poor in quality, according to surveyed business decision-makers
  • 4. Powered by Thought leadership is a highly subjective term that varies widely according to factors such as industry, topic and target audience. Rather than universally define thought leadership for a wide range of respondents, this study instead aims to understand how thought leadership influences B2B purchase behaviors. For the purpose of this study, thought leadership refers to: “Free deliverables that organizations or individuals produce on a topic that they know a lot about, and they feel others can benefit from having their perspective on. Thought leadership, in this context, does not include content primarily focused on describing an organization’s products or services.” About The Study What is Thought Leadership? Formats of thought leadership include, but are not limited to: • Research reports • Thought pieces • Essays • Videos • Webinars • Presentations (live or published online) • Similar such items that organizations make freely available (or in return for submitting contact information) Thought leadership, in this context, does not include: • Content primarily focused on describing an organization’s products or services • Paid-for client deliverables • Subscription services • Reports that must be purchased
  • 5. Powered by About The Study Survey Respondents and Methodology To help B2B companies understand the impact of thought leadership, Edelman and LinkedIn surveyed 1,329 U.S. business decision makers across a wide range of industries and company sizes. Company Size (Employees) 1-100 27% 101-1000 30% 1001-10,000 23% 10,001+ 21% Seniority Level Manager 43% Director 33% Vice President 10% CXO, Partner, Owner 14% Vetting Role Give input 50% Manage the process 27% Final decision maker 23% Additional Segments Works for organization that produces thought leadership 51% Works in high tech industry 20% Data collection Online, using the LinkedIn platform to survey LinkedIn members Fielding dates October-November, 2017 Survey length 10-15 Minutes Margin of Error Total Sample +/- 2.8% C-Suite Executives +/- 7.2% Creators of Thought Leadership: +/- 3.7%
  • 6. Powered by RESEARCH FINDINGS How Thought Leadership Influences B2B Purchase Behaviors
  • 7. Powered by CONSIDERATION PREFERENCE PURCHASE AWARENESS Source: 2017 How Thought Leadership Impacts B2b Demand Generation[OPEN] How important are each of the following in getting you to engage with a piece of thought leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Rate each attribute on a 5 point scale where 1 is not at all important and 5 is critically important. (Top 2-Box Important). [OPEN2] Now thinking about the content itself, what are the THREE (3) most important things in getting you to engage with a piece of thought leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Please select up to three below (Percent of respondent who selected that item). Thought leadership influences customer purchase behaviors across the entire purchase funnel It leads decision-makers to invite companies to bid on projects (RFPs), creates preference with buyers and deal influencers, directly contributes to winning business opportunities and can influence a buyer’s willingness to pay a premium for products or services. Compared to decision-makers, creators of thought leadership tend to underestimate its impact on influencing sales Beyond its ability to drive awareness, very few creators of thought leadership—typically marketers and communicators within an organization—ascribe downstream marketing and sales impact to their own thought leadership efforts. B2B decision-makers are generally disappointed with the quality of thought leadership they consume They view most thought leadership efforts as merely good, mediocre or poor in quality due to a lack of valuable insights gained from reading such content. Given its potential to influence buying decisions, improving thought leadership quality is a missed opportunity for most companies. Overview of Key Findings Marketers struggle to determine the actual impact and effectiveness of thought leadership in the buying process
  • 8. Powered by Decision makers value thought leadership and consistently spend time with it. Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." [POV] How important do you think it is that organizations produce thought leadership which lays out a vision or point-of-view on important topics? [TIME] On average, how much time per week do you spend reading and viewing thought leadership? Business decision makers find thought leadership important, even critical. More surprising: 16% of CXOs spend four hours or more per week engaging with it. 53% 55% 9 in 10 find it important Important Very important/critical 38% 35% 4+ hours 1-3 hours 12% 16% 38% 33% Half spend an hour or more/week AWARENESS Business decision makers (total sample) C-Suite executives
  • 9. Powered by Thought leadership is key to gaining the attention of decision makers in the awareness stage of the purchase funnel. 44% 55% Business decision makers C-Suite executives Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it helps us with lead generation and getting new contacts that we can call on/Yes, it makes it more likely that potential clients will return or answer our calls/Yes, it generates incoming calls from potential clients. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You started following the writer/organization to automatically receive their update /You gave the organization your contact information for follow up / You reached out to the organization/writer that produced the content to follow up on some of the points raised. (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time. “Gave the organization my contact information” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP How creators of thought leadership view its impact compared to decision-makers 42% “It helps with lead generation.” 33% “It generates incoming calls from potential clients.” 31% 42% Business decision makers C-Suite executives “Reached out to the organization to follow up” AWARENESS
  • 10. Powered by “Reading thought leadership is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of thinking an organization is likely to deliver.” 63% 64% Business decision makers C-Suite executives 52% 49% Business decision makers C-Suite executives “Looking through its thought leadership is one important way I vet an organization.” A majority of business decision makers use thought leadership to vet an organization and understand its caliber of thinking. Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it gets us more RFPs. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [PREMIUM] How much do you agree or disagree with these statements? Reading its thought leadership publications is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of thinking an organization is likely to deliver to its clients. Looking through its thought leadership publications is one important way I vet an organization that I am thinking about working with (Top 2-Box Agree). [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You invited the organization or person that produced the piece to bid or propose on a project when you had not been considering them previously (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time). CONSIDERATION
  • 11. Powered by Thought leadership led to 41% of C-Suite executives including a company in an RFP opportunity. 37% 41% Business decision makers C-Suite executives Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." [OPEN] How important are each of the following in getting you to engage with a piece of thought leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Rate each attribute on a 5 point scale where 1 is not at all important and 5 is critically important. (Top 2-Box Important). [OPEN2] Now thinking about the content itself, what are the THREE (3) most important things in getting you to engage with a piece of thought leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Please select up to three below (Percent of respondent who selected that item). Note: Refers to RFPs where the vendor was not previously in the buyers’ consideration set. “After seeing its thought leadership, (I/we) invited an organization to propose on a project.” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP How creators of thought leadership view its impact compared to decision-makers 17% of creators who publish thought leadership believe that it attracts RFP opportunities to their business. CONSIDERATION
  • 12. Powered by Strong thought leadership increases the respect and admiration of decision-makers. 88% 90% Business decision makers C-Suite executives “My respect and admiration for the organization increased (after engaging with thought leadership).” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP How creators of thought leadership view its impact compared to decision-makers 60% of creators who publish thought leadership believe that it enhances their organization’s brand reputation. PREFERENCE Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [MARKETING] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it increases our brand recognition / Yes, it enhances our brand reputation / Yes, it builds trust in our organization among potential clients. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? Your respect and admiration for the writer or organization increased / Your respect and admiration for the writer or organization decreased /It increased your opinion of how strong that organization's capabilities are - it enhanced their reputation in your mind / It increased your trust in the organization. (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time.
  • 13. Powered by Over 80% of business decision makers said thought leadership has increased their trust in a vendor organization. 82% 81% Business decision makers C-Suite executives Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [MARKETING] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it gets us more RFPs. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [PREMIUM] How much do you agree or disagree with these statements? Reading its thought leadership publications is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of thinking an organization is likely to deliver to its clients. Looking through its thought leadership publications is one important way I vet an organization that I am thinking about working with (Top 2-Box Agree). [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You invited the organization or person that produced the piece to bid or propose on a project when you had not been considering them previously (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time). “It (thought leadership) increased my trust in the organization.” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP How creators of thought leadership view its impact compared to decision-makers 49% of creators who publish thought leadership believe that it builds trust with potential customers. PREFERENCE
  • 14. Powered by Nearly half of business decision makers said thought leadership has directly led them to award business to a company. 45% 48% Business decision makers C-Suite executives “It (thought leadership) has directly led me to decide to business to a company.” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP How creators of thought leadership view its impact compared to decision-makers 20% of the creators of thought leadership said “it helps us close and win.” Compared to decision- makers, thought leadership is more than 2X as effective at helping to win business than its creators believe. PURCHASE Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it gets us more RFPs. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [PREMIUM] How much do you agree or disagree with these statements? Reading its thought leadership publications is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of thinking an organization is likely to deliver to its clients. Looking through its thought leadership publications is one important way I vet an organization that I am thinking about working with (Top 2-Box Agree). [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You invited the organization or person that produced the piece to bid or propose on a project when you had not been considering them previously (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time).
  • 15. Powered by Close to half of decision-makers feel thought leadership helps companies command a premium for their products and services. 49% 47% Business decision makers C-Suite executives Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer - NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it gets us more RFPs. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [PREMIUM] How much do you agree or disagree with these statements? Reading its thought leadership publications is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of thinking an organization is likely to deliver to its clients. Looking through its thought leadership publications is one important way I vet an organization that I am thinking about working with (Top 2-Box Agree). [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You invited the organization or person that produced the piece to bid or propose on a project when you had not been considering them previously (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time). ”I am more willing to pay a premium to work with an organization that has publicly articulated a clear vision for the future.” THE ATTRIBUTION GAP How creators of thought leadership view its impact compared to decision-makers 10% of creators said thought leadership “allows us to charge more than our competitors who produce lower quality thought leadership.” Compared to decision- makers, thought leadership is nearly 5X as effective at commanding a premium for products and services than its creators believe. PURCHASE
  • 16. Powered by THOUGHT LEADERSHIP CAN BE A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD
  • 17. Powered by 45% 53% Business decision makers C-Suite executives Up to this point, we’ve seen that thought leadership offers many underestimated and potentially unrealized advantages to its producers. But, as we’ll see later, not all thought leadership rates as “good” or even rises to “mediocre.” When it is executed poorly or fails to connect with an audience, it can serve as a net detriment to business development. At the Preference stage, for example, business decision-makers indicated that a company’s thought leadership resulted in a decrease in trust and admiration. “My respect and admiration for the organization DECREASED.” More than half of C-Suite decision makers have lost respect and admiration for an organization because of its poor thought leadership content. Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer – [NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it increases our brand recognition / Yes, it enhances our brand reputation / Yes, it builds trust in our organization among potential clients. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? Your respect and admiration for the writer or organization increased / Your respect and admiration for the writer or organization decreased /It increased your opinion of how strong that organization's capabilities are - it enhanced their reputation in your mind / It increased your trust in the organization. (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time.
  • 18. Powered by Over 30% of business decision makers have removed companies from consideration after engaging with what they viewed as poor thought leadership content. 30% 35% Business decision makers C-Suite executives Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." Producer - NEW] Within your organization, is thought leadership effective in generating new business? Yes, it gets us more RFPs. INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: select all that apply; Consumer - [PREMIUM] How much do you agree or disagree with these statements? Reading its thought leadership publications is one of the best ways to get a sense of the type and caliber of thinking an organization is likely to deliver to its clients. Looking through its thought leadership publications is one important way I vet an organization that I am thinking about working with (Top 2-Box Agree). [ENGAGED] How frequently has the following occurred after you have engaged with a piece of thought leadership? You invited the organization or person that produced the piece to bid or propose on a project when you had not been considering them previously (Net of sometimes, often, and almost every time). “Directly led me to decide to NOT award a piece of business to a company.” Once again, we find that thought leadership must be handled carefully. Potential customers factor quality of thought leadership into their evaluation and buying processes. When it needed to count the most—closing the sale—companies’ thought leadership resulted in roughly a third of the surveyed business decision makers indicating that it decided not to reward its authors with their business. The lesson: thought leadership requires care in its crafting but also its delivery. Our survey offers guidance here as well.
  • 19. Powered by WHAT DRIVES ENGAGEMENT WITH THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
  • 20. Powered by Nearly 1 in 2 business decision makers are disappointed in the overall quality of thought leadership and nearly all feel it is a missed opportunity. 26% 60% 14% Missed opportunity: 86% could be better Poor/Mediocre Good Very good/ excellent Percentage of the time respondents gain valuable insight from thought leadership: 44% Percentage of survey respondents who are disappointed by this: 51% Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." [QUALITY] What would you say is the overall quality of most of the thought leadership you read? [BUSINESS] What percentage of the time do you gain insights from the thought leadership you are exposed to that helps you do your job better or move your business forward? [CONSIDER] How would you characterize that percentage? (Net of "Far lower than I think it should be" and "lower than it should be".).
  • 21. Powered by Relevance, timeliness and referral from trusted sources matter most to decision makers. Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." [OPEN] How important are each of the following in getting you to engage with a piece of thought leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Rate each attribute on a 5 point scale where 1 is not at all important and 5 is critically important. (Top 2-Box Important). [OPEN2] Now thinking about the content itself, what are the THREE (3) most important things in getting you to engage with a piece of thought leadership? INSTRUCTIONAL TEXT: Please select up to three below (Percent of respondent who selected that item). Importance of each trigger in getting respondents to engage with thought leadership (3 most important triggers shown) Sources Forwarded by someone I know and respect Comes from a source that I have opted into Forwarded by my boss Topic is something I am currently working on Ideas are completely new and original It is short and easily absorbed 84% 86% 68% 48% 67% 70% 63% 63% 53% 50% 34% 36% Content Business decision makers (total sample) C-Suite executives
  • 22. Powered by 49 50 67 45 53 71 78% 79% 66% 63% 63% 64% Thought leaders must deliver facts, insights and substance… quickly. Source: 2017 Edelman/LinkedIn Study "How Thought Leadership Impacts B2B Demand Generation." [TYPICAL] Below you’ll find a list of typical components in thought leadership materials. For each, please rate how valuable or useful you generally find it to be on a 5 point scale where 1 is not at all valuable and 5 is extremely valuable. (Top 2-Box Valuable) Percent who rate each factor as important in getting them to engage with thought leadership (top 3 shown) Facts and InsightLength Short-form 3-4 page documents Short-form 3-4 minute videos Snackable media that can be digested in 1-2 minutes Identification of new trends or issues that I should know about The analysis of the causes and drivers underlying important current events and issues The data (e.g., charts, infographics, key facts or figures) % % % % % % Business decision makers (total sample) C-Suite executives
  • 23. Powered by THOUGHT LEADERSHIP IN ACTION Powered by
  • 24. Businessolver: Workplace Empathy Monitor “Businessolver’s thought leadership study, the Workplace Empathy Monitor, helped us focus our brand awareness and marketing efforts on a central theme for the year, but perhaps most importantly, provided us with a coordinated way to drive engagement with our key prospects. We’ve been able to leverage the power of cross-functional marketing and sales channels to truly connect with our current and potential customers, and start an important conversation with our prospects and peers about a topic that matters to the industry, our target customers and employees.” What It Is Businessolver, a Des Moines-based provider of employee benefits technology, was trying to find its place in a crowded marketplace. Central to this mission of evolving Businessolver’s brand messaging was creating the Workplace Empathy Monitor, a study that exposed a wide gap between CEOs and employees in how empathy is employed in U.S. workplaces to inspire workforces and keep them engaged and productive. Insight Feedback from the front lines of Businessolver's customer service and sales teams revealed that their customers wanted not just benefits administration tools but a better understanding of what benefits employees actually need the most. This desire to better understand the employee led the company to conduct research on the topic of empathy in the workplace and its impact on business productivity. Why It Works The survey findings and implications were packaged into a wide range of materials that targeted key sales prospects. Additionally the study became the central focus of in-person event engagement and incorporated into sales conversations with prospects and customers. In eight months, Businessolver’s sales teams saw 40% increase in inbound RFP requests (year-over-year), and most importantly, 8% increase in sales – all connected to marketing efforts around the new positioning and thought leadership platform. Learn more at businessolver.com/empathy Rae Shanahan Chief Strategy Officer, Businessolver
  • 25. PwC: Annual CEO Survey “For any organization, thought leadership is an important vehicle for sharing points of view related to what's happening in the world. It helps executives and leaders distill complex ideas to their fundamental purpose. As a global network of firms, we know that developing and publishing thought leadership can catalyze change, inspire transformation, mitigate risk, and impact critical decisions across business leadership and even among audiences we might not have anticipated.” What It Is For the last twenty years, PwC has interviewed CEOs in dozens of countries to gain insights into the “tone at the top” for global business. The survey covers critical topics ranging from digital disruption to globalization. The study is further supported by exclusive CEO interviews and other media assets, and is launched annually at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Insight While there is predictably high interest in business leaders worldwide, much of it is anecdotal rather than wide-ranging and comprehensive. Further, PwC observed a shift where the power-distance between CEOs and their company’s customers was shrinking, providing an opportunity to help put their audience's ears closer to the doors of corporate leadership. Why It Works The PwC CEO Survey has become a thought leadership franchise that gives it a reason to have a top-level discussion with its customers, prospects, executives, and media year after year. This creates annual anticipation for the study and its two- decade history enables it to point to trends over time. In addition to the core study, PwC publishes a series of rich content to showcase findings in an easy-to-digest manner including videos featuring the global chairman, category-specific insights and interviews with key CEOs. LinkedIn posts, interactive graphs, infographics and timelines are optimized for social media and content sharing. Learn more at ceosurvey.pwc Bob Moritz Global Chairman, PwC
  • 26. Powered by Top performing B2B content categories on LinkedIn as measured by overall engagement (total views, likes, comments and shares) Timeframe: March-May 2017 Trending Topics by Industry Technology – Software 1. Leadership development 2. Sales and distribution 3. Artificial intelligence 4. Strategy alignment 5. Leadership accountability 6. Security analysis 7. Sales effectiveness Technology – Hardware 1. Lean manufacturing 2. Silicon carbide 3. Design principles 4. C-level leadership 5. Algorithm design 6. Data center construction 7. Data center consolidation Manufacturing 1. Order fulfillment 2. Claims investigations 3. Graphics processing units 4. Facilities management 5. Waste disposal 6. Shipping and receiving 7. Plastics engineering Oil & Energy 1. Energy audits /assessments 2. Solar energy 3. Climate change impacts 4. Sustainability consulting 5. Wind energy 6. Gas chromatography 7. Seismology Professional Services 1. Management accounting 2. Sales and distribution 3. Strategy alignment 4. Human resources information systems 5. Marketing activations 6. Pay equity 7. Policy analysis
  • 27. Powered by Examples of Highly Engaged Thought Leadership Content on LinkedIn
  • 28. Powered by Recommendations for B2B Marketers Powered by
  • 29. Powered by How to Make B2B Thought Leadership Work Harder Thought leadership, done well, can drive tangible business demand Align thought leadership strategy with demand generation efforts • Align with sales and company leadership to elevate thought leadership as a cross-functional business development discipline • Explore thought leadership topics at the intersection between timely industry trends and your company’s growth priorities • Use sales-enablement tactics such as customer engagement playbooks and content sharing tools to directly engage high-value customers and prospects Customers want high quality insights, not just product messages Focus on delivering value, not selling • Aspire to journalistic-quality content that goes beyond products and services to educate customers • Help customers understand the drivers of current issues and how to be better professionals day-to-day • Explore how your thought leadership can be an episodic franchise, rather than a single event, to generate opt-in subscribers (and captive audience) over time In B2B, personalization of content is vital to breaking through the noise Know your customer • Engage frontline sales and customer relationship managers to learn what topics most concern current customers and prospects on a day-to-day basis • Evaluate the B2B buyer committee to determine how customer pain points may vary by function, seniority and role within the decision-making process • Instead of a one-to-many editorial approach, consider granular personalization, targeting and delivery of content to niche audiences that is enabled by marketing technology (e.g. website personalization, marketing automation, account-based marketing platforms)
  • 30. Powered by How to Make B2B Thought Leadership Work Harder Customers need information they can quickly absorb Be timely, and brief • Know the channels where your prospects spend time and optimize media formats accordingly • Create short, snackable media that quickly capture attention and entice readers to consume longer-from content assets • Evaluate tools and data platforms that signal timely content consumption behaviors such as search engines, predictive intent data, account-based marketing (ABM) and marketing automation Plan for ROI before executing thought leadership Close the attribution gap • Plan for an analytics and measurement approach that will help you understand content performance from awareness through purchase • Align sales and marketing on KPIs such as MQL, SQL and other measures of how content drives customer behavior (e.g. marketing-originated or influenced leads) Referral from trusted sources drives engagement with thought leadership Harness the power of employees • Know whom your buyer is likely to know and respect—they are your most effective amplifiers • Consider developing a social-digital footprint for senior executives and subject matter experts who can attract relevant followers, creating a direct distribution channel for thought leadership content • Encourage employees to share thought leadership content across their professional social networks – especially those who are well connected to the target audience (e.g. customers, prospects, industry influencers, etc.)
  • 31. Powered by TO LEARN MORE CONTACT: Joe Kingsbury U.S. Managing Director, B2B Edelman joe.kingsbury@edelman.com Powered by HOW THOUGHT LEADERSHIP IMPACTS B2B DEMAND GENERATION An Edelman-LinkedIn Research Study