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Some brands win big, yet others fail: Quality thought leadership content can be the differentiator

Rather than a roll of the dice, thought leadership content needs to be thought of as a calculated investment with risks and rewards. Done well, thought leadership content is influential. It provides clarity, showcases expertise, probes challenging questions, and unlocks opportunities. After consuming thought leadership content, 47% of C-level executives voluntarily shared their contact information, a 2019 B2B Edelman and LinkedIn study revealed. That’s a huge return on investment!

Done poorly, however, thought leadership content is just fluff. Empty, salesy, and at best, pursuing a unique point of view. Only 18% of decision makers in the same study encountered thought leadership content that was excellent or impactful. This is where the risk lies. A brand’s reputation comes under the scanner every time its marketing team hits publish.

Here are important insights from content marketing agency Edisol on understanding thought leadership content in the right light.

High-quality thought leadership can influence the influencers “The C-suite isn’t the regular audience and conventional modes of marketing won’t cut the mustard,” says Nirati Agarwal, Head – Content and founder of Edisol. “Because thought leadership reveals an organisation’s mettle and makes trust tangible, it holds the key to unlocking this audience. Brands must offer C-execs something they don’t know and back it with reliable data. If their content can help decision-makers make that next decision, the brand will be in business.”

The perspectives of decision-makers – managers, directors, VPs, CXOs, owners, and partners – on thought leadership are extremely revealing. Here are some highlights from the Edelman and LinkedIn 2020 study :

Decision-makers Agree that thought leadership
59% Is a reliable tool for assessing a company’s competence
41% Can lead them to pay a premium to work with the company
71% Is a top way to assess the calibre of the organisation’s thinking

In terms of ROI, thought leadership scores well on all fronts.

Purchase decision Effectiveness of thought leadership
Invited a new business to bid on a project 39%
Awarded business to the company 49%
Increased business with the company 52%
Purchased new products/ services 51%

Thought leadership isn’t a guaranteed ladder to success Think of thought leadership as an investment: If it doesn’t suit the market, there’s no avoiding huge losses.

1. 38% of decision-makers agreed that poor-quality thought leadership content may lead to diminished respect and admiration for a company, as per the 2020 study. This figure was 46% in 2019.

2. 25% decided not to award business to an organisation because of low-quality thought leadership, as per the 2020 study. And this figure was 29% in 2019.

These statistics prove that thought leadership cannot be a matter of trial and error. It has lasting consequences on trust and reputation, and eventually brand growth.

Strategies that boost thought leadership efforts High-quality thought leadership is rare but rewarding. How do brands create content that not just holds the ground but makes it past the lines of defence and onto the tables of decision-makers? Here are some best practices recommended by Edisol.

  1. Publish wholesome content: Thought leadership content needs gravity if it is to draw in results. Thought leaders should challenge the way readers think, publish data to back up their position, and have strong opinions.
  2. Keep the formats absorbing: Thought leadership is a type of content that draws from experience and expertise and seeks to influence audiences with insights and solutions. It isn’t confined to a format. Blogs, magazine-style reports, video, and podcasts—all can do the trick based on where the audience is.
  3. Pay attention to emotional intelligence: In this pandemic-driven era, integrating empathy into content is crucial as audiences want content that resonates with their experiences. While thought leadership should provide insights or answer questions, it must also explore emotional pathways towards brand loyalty and advocacy.

“Thought leadership is largely an untapped content asset,” explains Jocy Fernandez, Head – Creative, Edisol.“ Most brand leaders have hard-earned industry secrets, counter-cultural opinions, fresh perspectives, niche expertise, and an insightful vision. What they often lack is the wherewithal to convert their resources into assets that can be published.” Edisol is changing the game for leaders seeking thought leadership that blends research and intellectual rigor with storytelling and strategies for effective distribution and engagement.

With high-quality thought leadership content, it is possible to change perspectives and contribute to the knowledge quotient of your audience, while gaining on multiple fronts that affect the bottom line.

 [EW1]Can link this study: https://www.edelman.com/research/2019-b2b-thought-leadership-impact-study

 [EW2]Can link this study: https://www.edelman.com/research/2020-b2b-thought-leadership-impact-study

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