After years of uncertainty surrounding the idea of thought leadership, many B2B brands are seeing a renaissance in how they approach it. Empowered with more concrete evidence that thought leadership drives sales, marketers have embraced it with gusto.
Research Demonstrates Thought Leadership’s Unique Power in B2B Content Marketing
In terms of digital marketing, thought leadership is content that establishes a new way of doing things, looking at problems, or adapting to trends – and also makes the case why that way of thinking is superior in practice.
It differentiates not only what brands do, but how and especially why.
Leadership content is complex, since it often involves conducting independent research, compiling existing data in new ways, and delivering insightful analyses for the future.
Compared to an average company blog post, thought leadership is longer and more sophisticated. It might take weeks or even months in comparison to lead time of a short blog.
But is it worthwhile? Real B2B decision-makers suggest the answer is yes.
A recent report from LinkedIn and Edelman Digital discovered:
- Over 80% of respondents said thought leadership content grew their trust in a brand.
- More than 50% considered it a “major element” when vetting vendors and partners.
- Leadership content had prompted 42% of c-suite executives to follow up.
Making Thought Leadership Work for You
Thought leadership can enhance revenue in many different ways:
- It can accelerate long B2B sales cycles by giving you pride of place in buying decisions.
- It can inspire a purchasing decision where no immediate plans to make one had existed.
- It can simplify the process by motivating a high-authority individual to take action.
However, this type of content can also be a double-edged sword. Poorly informed content can undermine your other digital marketing efforts and might even lead to a lost sale.
With this in mind, it’s crucial to have a consistent and long-term strategy for thought leadership. Content should revolve around an enterprise’s area of expertise and leverage its unique strengths.
You can start by delving into the data your organization generates and collects on a regular basis. This can serve as a treasure trove of fuel for your content – simply by finding the message within the data that’s of greatest interest to your industry, you can make unique contributions.
Many organizations find that the best way to deliver incisive, effective strategy is to specialize down, focusing on the production of a single annual report on key industry topics. This also allows you to cultivate a following through quarterly or biannual updates.
Thought leadership is in transition from a key differentiator to a B2B “must have.” When you add to the conversation in your space, you can truly vie for market leadership.