Top-Shelf Tip No. 116:

"Thought leadership is the ability to aggregate followers around ideas to educate, influence and inspire."

Jeanine Moss

Survey Says: Thought Leadership Impacts Sales

With today's social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter, it's becoming much easier to showcase the knowledge and expertise of your organization through posted content from subject matter experts or thought leaders.

In the B2B world of companies, many are using thought leadership to build a reputation and strategically position themselves in the minds of potential customers. But beyond its ability to drive awareness and shift perception, not as much effort has been put into the direct impact that thought leadership has on sales.

For the first time, public relations giant Edelman and social media titan LinkedIn have collaborated on a study that explores how thought leadership influences the behaviors of business decision-makers and C-suite executives. We share their study results from more than 1,300 respondents in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Thought leadership influences customer purchase behaviors across the entire buying process.

  • The survey results show that nine out of 10 business decision makers find thought leadership to be important.
  • Over 15 percent of C-suite executives spend four or more hours per week engaged with it.

Thought leadership has meaningful impact on attracting requests for proposal invitations, creating preference with buyers and directly contributing to sales wins.

  • Over 80 percent of business decision makers said thought leadership has increased their trust in a vendor organization.
  • Nearly half of business decision makers said thought leadership has directly led them to award business to a company.
  • Close to half of decision makers feel thought leadership helps companies command a premium for their products and services.

Be careful on the quality of content.

  • More than half of C-suite leaders surveyed have lost respect for an organization because of its poor thought leadership.

Align thought leadership strategy with demand generation efforts.

  • Use sales enablement tactics such as customer engagement playbooks and content sharing tools to directly engage high-value customers and prospects.

Know your customer and personalize the content accordingly.

  • Learn what topics most concern your customers and determine customer pain points by function, seniority and role within the decision-making process.

Focus on delivering value, not selling.

  • Make sure your content is educational to the customer and addresses both current issues and how they can be successful.
  • Know the channels where your customers spend time and gather information.
  • Create measures on how content drives customer behavior, and promotes qualified leads in sales and marketing.

Source: Joe Kingsbury is U.S. managing director, B2B at Edelman, one of the world's oldest and largest public relations firms that helps clients communicate, engage and build relationships with their stakeholders.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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