We Read The Edelman 2024 B2B Thought Leadership Report So You Don’t Have To

Get Cremarc’s perspective on what the top 5 takeaways mean for your content For the sixth year, in collaboration with…

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Edelman 2024 B2B Thought Leadership Report

Get Cremarc’s perspective on what the top 5 takeaways mean for your content

For the sixth year, in collaboration with LinkedIn, Edelman has just released its B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report. Surveying some 3,500 management-level professionals, the 2024 report explores how good thought leadership can do more than just increase brand awareness.

More than half of decision-makers and C-suite leaders spend an hour or more a week reading thought leadership content.* Whether it’s a webinar or whitepaper, research report or Powerpoint deck, thought leadership puts your unique expertise and strategic guidance in front of an audience that matters.

This year’s Thought Leadership Impact Report acknowledges that it is a tough climate for B2B marketers. “At any given time, a staggering 95% of business clients are not actively seeking goods or services. …Getting buyers off the sidelines has become imperative. B2B companies need to prompt buyers to rethink their challenges as a first step to stimulating demand.”

Here’s five ways thought leadership can provide a much-needed competitive edge:

Thought leadership should light a fire in customers to pursue what you’re selling.

The Edelman 2024 report finds nearly three-quarters of decision-makers consider thought leadership to be a more trustworthy basis to assess a business’ capabilities and competencies than its marketing materials. If the thought leadership is consistently of high quality, the more favourable the impression.

What’s more, 60% of decision-makers say a piece of thought leadership revealed they were missing out on a significant business opportunity.

What this means for you:

If you are channelling all your resources into flashy sales presentations and product sheets, but penny-pinching on top-of-funnel content, you could be missing the mark. What might be “just a whitepaper” to you could be the difference between a prospect picking your business or looking elsewhere.

Thought leadership has the potential to lead customers to research products or services they were not previously considering. This indicates the power of the soft and insightful sell, revealing previously untapped business opportunities that would have fallen on deaf ears if not for great thought leadership.

Effective thought leadership can be a money-maker.

Just under a quarter of decision-makers attribute thought leadership to the reason why they began buying or partnering with the organisation. Plus, 60% say good thought leadership makes them willing to pay a premium.

86% of decision-makers would be likely to invite a company to participate in an RFP process based on their thought leadership content. This is far higher than companies expect; only 38% of thought leadership producers anticipate such an outcome.

What this means for you:

If you are finding you have too many out-of-market buyers biding their time, thought leadership is a proven catalyst for initiating conversion. What’s more, credible content can be the leverage needed to boost sales efforts and accelerate pricing power.

If conversations are stalling, then consider whether customers would prefer to hear a fresh point of view over the same old sales patter.

If you don’t make your customers think differently, your competitors will.

70% of C-suite leaders say a piece of thought leadership from a competitor has made them question an existing relationship with a supplier. More than half have found thought leadership to show them that there are suppliers who are smarter and have a better understanding of their industry than the ones they’ve got.

To hammer the point home, a quarter of decision-makers have ended or significantly scaled back working with a supplier due to a piece of thought leadership by a competitor.

What this means for you:

A competitor’s insights can sow seeds of doubt you can’t afford to ignore. Thought leadership is an opportunity to showcase your expertise and grasp of buyers’ challenges. Those who are able to articulate their point of view credibly and creatively have the power to steal business from you.

Are you making yourself heard, and are you reassuring your customers that you know what you’re talking about?

You must prove thought leadership’s ROI if you want to secure the resources needed to amplify it.

One in five B2B companies have no processes in place at all to measure the effectiveness of their thought leadership output. 42% simply look to an increase in website traffic to prove ROI and nothing more.

Less than a third of B2B companies can link sales leads back to specific pieces of thought leadership and, perhaps as a result of this, half of B2B companies say they are too under-resourced to produce good content.

What this means for you:

Failure to deliver clear measurement of sales impact is encouraging a nervousness around thought leadership initiatives. Companies cannot afford to be complacent by not delivering in this space, yet the cycle of negative reinforcement is creating barriers, reducing resources and limiting internal engagement.

Getting to grips with what thought leadership can deliver as a sales and marketing tool is vital. By going beyond basic metrics and proving the true business effects, the necessary capacity and competency to create great content will be unlocked.

Delivering clear understanding and showing the way forwards, underpinned by robust research, are the thought leadership trifecta.

Decision-makers consider great thought leadership to have strong research (55%), brings clarity to their challenges (44%) and offers clear guidance (43%).

Just 15% of decision-makers say the quality of the thought leadership they consume is excellent. Less than half consider it to be good.

To stand out, decision-makers are looking for expert authors (62%) and interesting, unusual formats (66%).

What this means for you:

Truly impactful and effective thought leadership means raising the bar. This is not such a tall order in a sea of mediocre efforts.

Taking the time to conduct credible research and understand the needs of your audience will be time rewarded. Thinking beyond tried-and-test formats and venturing into creative territories could also be fruitful, inviting jaded buyers to come on a journey with you.

You can read the full Edelman report here.

Feeling inspired? Find out about thought leadership at Cremarc here and get in touch.

*All stats referenced are from Edelman’s B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report 2024.

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