[Research Round-Up] New Study Shows the Continuing Value of B2B Thought Leadership

Source:  Edelman and LinkedIn(This month’s Research Round-Up discusses the sixth edition of the B2B thought leadership impact study by Edelman and LinkedIn. This research has consistently provided valuable insights about the impact of thought leadership content on the perceptions and behaviors of business decision-makers.)

Edelman and LinkedIn recently published the findings of their 2024 B2B thought leadership impact study. The study involved a survey of 3,484 business leaders (all LinkedIn members) from a wide range of industries and company sizes. The survey was conducted November 30 – December 14, 2023, and included respondents from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, Australia, and India.

The study defined “thought leadership” as “content that offers expertise, guidance or a unique point of view on a topic or in a field.”

Some of the study results were reported by type of survey respondent. The three categories used in the study were: 

B2B Decision-Makers – “Company executives who consume thought leadership and are involved in making final decisions on their company’s choice of professional service providers or products.”

C-Suite Executives – “Company owners, partners and founders who consume thought leadership and who have complete or partial ownership of a company, or C-Suite-level executives with responsibility for a business function.”
Producers of Thought Leadership – “Managers (and higher) who both consume thought leadership and work for an organization that produces free thought leadership.”
Here’s a recap of some of the study’s major findings.
As with previous editions of the study, the researchers asked survey participants about their consumption and overall view of thought leadership content.
52% of B2B Decision-Makers and 54% of C-Suite Executives said they spend (on average) an hour or more per week reading thought leadership content.
73% of B2B Decision-Makers said an organization’s thought leadership content is more trustworthy than its other marketing materials for assessing the organization’s capabilities and competencies.
48% of B2B Decision-Makers said the overall quality of the thought leadership content they read is good, but only 15% said it is very good or excellent.
Thought Leadership and Out-of-Market Buyers
A major theme of this study is the value of using thought leadership to engage potential buyers who aren’t ready to buy. Findings in the 2024 study indicate that good thought leadership content can stimulate demand among out-of-market buyers by prompting them to rethink their status quo.
For example, more than 75% of B2B Decision-Makers and C-Suite Executives said thought leadership content had led them to research a product or service they hadn’t previously considered, and of these respondents, 60% said thought leadership content had made them realize their organization could be missing out on a significant business opportunity.
The study also addressed the importance of providing thought leadership content to existing customers. The survey found that good thought leadership content (from a competitor) can lead many B2B buyers to question whether they should continue working with an existing supplier and realize that other suppliers had a better understanding of their challenges.
What Drives the Quality of Thought Leadership
The Edelman/LinkedIn study also asked participants about the attributes of effective thought leadership content.
Sixty-two percent of B2B Decision-Makers said that average or above average thought leadership content is produced or written by prominent or well-respected experts, and 66% said it has a unique format or style that makes it stand apart from other thought leadership content.
B2B Decision-Makers also identified three other attributes that characterize the highest quality thought leadership.
55% said it is supported by strong research and data
44% said it helps them better understand the challenges and opportunities their business is facing
43% said it includes concrete guidance and case studies
The Takeaway
Like its predecessors, the 2024 Edelman/LinkedIn B2B thought leadership impact study provides marketers important insights into the impact of thought leadership on the perceptions and behaviors of B2B buyers. It also confirms the continuing power and value of authoritative and well-crafted thought leadership content.

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