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Think About It

New Research from Edelman and LinkedIn: Thought Leadership Significantly Impacts B2B Buying, but Low Quality Content Damages Reputation and Sales Efforts 

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 B2B marketers and salespeople significantly underestimate the impact of thought leadership on demand generation and sales efforts, compared to actual feedback from B2B buyers, according to new research from Edelman and LinkedIn.

 The 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study  “How Thought Leadership Drives Demand Generation” reveals a majority of B2B buyers use thought leadership content to vet the capabilities of potential vendors (55%) and understand the caliber of their thinking and services (69%). 

 As a result, nearly six in 10 buyers said strong thought leadership has directly led them to award business to a company. Conversely, 29% have decided not to award business to a particular company due to what they viewed as poor thought leadership content. 

Despite ability of thought leadership to attract and grow business, most B2B marketers and sellers also struggle to measure its impact. Though thought leadership consumption among senior decision-makers is also on the rise; 58% spend an hour or more per week consuming thought leadership content, an increase of 8% from 2017. 

The majority, (60%), said they gain valuable insights from it only half of the time or less. This signals a missed opportunity for B2B companies to not only improve the quality of their content-producing efforts but also capture ongoing feedback on whether thought leadership is resonating, or risking, engagement with customers and prospects. 

 Other key findings from the 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study include:

  • Thought leadership has a tangible impact on how B2B decision-makers see an organization – good and bad. 
  • 89% say strong thought leadership has increased their opinion of an organization’s capabilities
  • 45% have issued an RFP to a company after engaging with its thought leadership content (when that company was not previously in their consideration set)
  • 55% increased the amount of business conducted with an existing vendor/partner because of strong thought leadership
  • 58% are willing to pay a premium to work with brands that have articulated a clear vision for the future in their industry (over an organization that does not publish thought leadership at all)
  • 46% have lost respect for an organization after reading what they viewed to be poor thought leadership content

 There is more tension between how B2B thought leadership producers and sellers see value in thought leadership. 

  • While 59% of sellers say thought leadership broadens perception of their organization’s capabilities, only 18% of marketers are able to attribute sales leads resulting from thought leadership efforts 
  • 49% of sellers do thought leadership to establish themselves in the field
  • Just 26% of sellers say thought leadership helps them win business (compared to 58% of buyers who say thought leadership has directly led them to award business to a company)
  • 12% of sellers believe thought leadership generates RFP opportunities (compared to 45% of decision-makers who have invited a company to bid on a project due to its thought leadership content)
  • Almost one third (29%) of sellers say thought leadership helps cross sell to current clients and customers

 Joe Kingsbury, U.S. Managing Director, B2B at Edelmansays “Thought leadership continues to be a double-edged sword for B2B companies, Buyers increasingly rely on thought leadership to vet prospective vendors and partners, especially as the customer journey becomes more digital and ‘self-service.’ But done poorly, it can jeopardize customer relationships before they even begin.”

 

 

 

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