Thought leadership articles published in leading trade publications can be more powerful than we think, according to a 2019 study by Edelman public relations partnering with LinkedIn. So, we are all on the same page, a thought leadership article can be defined as:
A thought leadership article is typically an educational article that positions the author, usually a top person in a B2B organization, as an industry expert. The author shares his or her insights and gives advice, all intended to help others in that industry.
While the article does not directly sell or promote a product or service, the quality of the article and its credibility has power, increasing brand awareness, trust, loyalty, and with it, sales.
Thought leadership articles are often published in leading trade publications, but they may also be presented in formats such as blogs, videos, infographics, on LinkedIn, in webinars, and presentations.
The Edelman/LinkedIn study involved 1,200 U.S. business decision-makers, content creators, and salespeople. The companies ranged in size from those with 200 employees or less, to companies with 10,000 employees or more. It was conducted online with a margin of error of 2.3 percent.
According to the researchers, the gist of what they found was that:
“Not only does thought leadership content influence most buyers, but it also can help brands win, retain, and grow more customer business.”
Among their findings were the following:
- 90% believe that thought leadership articles increase trust in a B2B organization and that it enhances an organization’s brand reputation
- 75% said they would follow and pay closer attention to a company based on a well written and credible thought leadership article
- 92% believe such articles increase their respect for a B2B organization
- 58% reported they would give business to a company based on their thought leadership articles82% said that a thought leadership article written by someone they know, or respect, is a crucial factor in getting readers to read the article and connect with an organization
- 57% said they preferred short, “snackable” thought leadership articles that can be digested in a few minutes
It should be noted that the “credibility and quality” of the material can make a big difference in its impact and ability to turn words into sales.
For instance, 60 percent of those surveyed said they would stop reading articles from a thought leader if it lacked credibility or was poorly written. Further, nearly 50 percent said they would lose respect for an organization that published articles of poor quality.
The key takeaways of the study are that thought leadership articles do have power, they are an effective marketing strategy, especially for B2B organizations, and if credible and well written, they do have the ability to turn words into sales.
Sidebar: Key Points in the Study:
B2B companies know that thought leadership matters. When done well, it can make specialized expertise accessible, strengthen a business’s reputation, and spark meaningful conversations that lead to real business results. But when poorly executed, thought leadership can not only damage a brand’s reputation, it also can tangibly hurt a company’s sales efforts.
B2B marketers and salespeople significantly underestimate the impact of thought leadership on demand generation and sales efforts compared to actual feedback from B2B buyers.
Each year, decision-makers are spending more time reading thought leadership; in fact, most do so for at least an hour per week.
The majority of decision-makers said they gain valuable insights from thought leadership only half of the time, and they are disappointed by the lack of high-quality thought leadership.
Thought leadership marketing. It’s more powerful than marketers think
More content on Thought Leadership marketing available here.