Thought leadership is all about having interesting and attention-grabbing insights on the big problems facing your customers.
You could be using these insights in interesting articles and blogs, well-argued reports and white papers, and also delivering them in videos, LinkedIn posts and of course face-to-face in meetings and when speaking at events.
But is there research out there showing it brings commercial benefits for B2B businesses?
Yes, there's plenty!
For instance, when it comes to generating demand and increasing sales, below are some highlights from recent research by global comms agency Edelman (in this case based on 1.3K US business decision-makers in 2017):
- 41% of C-Suite executives include companies on RFPs directly through their thought leadership
- A majority of decision-makers use it to vet organisations and understand the calibre of their thinking
- It is key to getting the attention of decision-makers in the awareness stage of the funnel (ie it ensures you are already strongly positioned before they go into buying mode)
- Nearly half said good thought leadership has directly led to them awarding business to a company
Also, this is borne out by the experience of our clients - for instance this case study of the impact of thought leadership in helping the growth of SaaS innovator GlobalExpense.
Other research, this time from professors at Exeter and Said business schools, found that thought leadership was one of only three proven ways for consultancy firms to change their reputation. (See this blog for full details).
Of course, for these sorts of benefits your thought leadership needs to be impactful, credible and relevant.
When "thought leadership" is stale, me-too or really a thinly disguised sales pitch, the impact is negative.