New research underscores the importance of strong thought leadership for B2B businesses
A study by Edelman and LinkedIn on over 1,300 C-level executives and decision makers revealed that content marketing plays a primary role in the entire B2B marketing funnel – from firm awareness to sales of services. Here's how.
Decision makers value thought leadership, and spend considerable time on it.
90% of C-suite executives and decision makers surveyed found thought leadership important. Half of executives surveyed reported that they spend more than an hour per week on thought leadership, and 1/5 spent over 4 hours per week on thought leadership, underscoring the importance of thought leadership to business decision makers.
Strong thought leadership content is great for a brand's reputation
Not only do executives spend considerable time on thought leadership, they use it to evaluate firms that are publishing content. 90% of C-Suite executives surveyed agreed that their respect and admiration for an organization increased after engaging with strong thought leadership.
And over 80% said that thought leadership has increased their trust in a vendor organization.
Thought leadership content drives the middle of the marketing funnel
Despite the fact that only 33% of thought leaders surveyed thought that their content was generating incoming calls from potential clients, the study found that in reality, 55% of C-suite executives had given an organization their contact info in exchange for content, and 42% said that they'd reached out to an organization following strong content.
Furthermore, 64% of executives agreed that 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, and 49% agreed that reading thought leadership is an important way that they vet organizations.
Moreover thought leadership led 41% of decision makers to include a company in an RFP opportunity, and 40% of business executives reported that good content directly contributed to their decision to trust an unknown company.
Good thought leadership directly impacts the bottom of the funnel, leading directly to new business and higher premiums
When executives were surveyed about the impact of thought leadership on their buying decisions, 48% of C-level executives said that good thought leadership content directly led them to award business to certain firms over others. And nearly half of decision makers reported that they are more willing to pay a premium to work with an organization that has publically articulated a clear vision for the future, underscoring the importance of strong, public content for B2B firms.
Thought leadership is incredibly undervalued in its ability to draw in new business
Despite the overwhelming evidence above that content plays a major role in business generation, when asked if their content was driving business only 17% of thought leaders believed that their content was generating RFP proposals, and only 20% attributed sales directly to their thought leadership efforts, indicative of a massive gap in attribution of strong content's ability to generate business.
Plainly stated, companies that are not offering good thought leadership content are missing out on business opportunities.
Thought leadership is a double-edged sword.
Strong thought leadership impacts the entire marketing funnel, from firm awareness, to firm trust, and, eventually to revenue generation. However weak content can be equally impactful for a firm's reputation. The study found that over 50% of C-level executives had lost respect for an organization because of poor thought leadership, and over 30% had removed companies from their consideration set as a direct result of weak thought leadership.
The current thought leadership landscape is lacking.
Executives reported that they do not gain valuable insights from over 50% of the thought leadership they consume. And only 14% of executives believed that the majority of content they've consumed has been very good or excellent in quality.
The silver lining here is that there is ample space for talented firms to showcase their knowledge and establish themselves as trusted resources in their fields.
So how might a B2B firm create engaging content to drive potential customers down their marketing funnel, while avoiding potentially damaging content?
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