Study unpacks high relevance of thought leadership in B2B markets

By our News Team | 2022

LinkedIn-Edelman report says high-quality thought leadership will be a highly effective tool in demonstrating value to customers.

International public relations consultancy Edelman and LinkedIn have jointly released the 5th annual B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report, which reveals that high-quality thought leadership will be more important than ever for organisations seeking to break through with decision-makers at current and prospective clients.

This year’s report, set against the backdrop of economic uncertainty in 2023, is based on input from close to 3,500 management-level professionals. The aim of the global report is to help marketers, communicators and salespeople understand the relevance of thought leadership in the global B2B environment.

Thought Leadership

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“As budgets tighten and resources shrink, B2B companies have difficult decisions to make on how and where to spend their marketing [resources],” said Joe Kingsbury, Managing Director of Edelman Business Marketing. 

“While there are many tactics in the marketer’s toolbox – advertising, trade shows, in-person sales pitches and more – our report reveals that high-quality thought leadership will be a very effective tool in demonstrating value to customers.”

“Increased economic uncertainty makes the B2B purchase cycle more complex,” said Tusar Barik, LinkedIn’s Agency and Partner Marketing Director. “Thought leadership is an essential tool that can help B2B marketers reach decision-makers, communicate the long-term value of their brands, and influence future buyers’ purchase decisions.”

Notable highlights from the research include:

Economic uncertainty will force B2B buyers to distinguish between which products and services are must-haves vs. nice-to-haves. 

Just over half (55%) of decision-makers say that, as budgets are cut, products and services deemed ‘nice-to-haves’ rather than ‘must-haves’ will be where any necessary spending reductions come from. Providers in this category will need to do more than meet minimal expectations and instead prove they are essential to helping prospective customers succeed during tough times.

A similar percentage (54%) of respondents say that non-critical companies can increase their chances of winning business by proving that they will increase profit margins or minimise losses, while 51% say they can do so by showing they can help them outperform, or take market share, from competitors.

Thought leadership is one of the most effective tools an organisation can use to demonstrate its value to customers during a tough economy.

Sixty-one percent of decision-makers say that an organisation’s thought leadership can be moderately, or a lot more, effective at demonstrating the potential value of its products and services compared to traditional product-oriented marketing.

Half of C-suite executives say that high-quality thought leadership has more impact on their purchase decision-making during economic downturns than when times are good.

Decision-makers expect high-quality thought leadership to offer a strong, data-backed point of view on how to succeed during a downturn.

Just over half (55%) of decision-makers say it’s more important than ever for the suppliers of non-essential products and services to produce high-quality thought leadership in order to win business during economic uncertainty.

Forty-three percent of decision-makers expect the thought leadership they consume to demonstrate an understanding of their organisation’s major pain points, while 48% expect the content to identify new opportunities or industry trends stemming from economic uncertainty (48%).