The Results Are In: Research Shows Thought Leadership Helps Drive B2B Demand

Results From An Edelman/LinkedIn Study


Many B2B companies still wonder if content driven thought leadership generates demand impacting the bottom line.

A new Edelman and LinkedIn study of 1,300 business decision makers and C-suite executives should put this dilemma to rest.

Results show -

When done right: thought leadership goes beyond building awareness and affects every stage of the B2B journey.

When poorly executed: thought leadership hurts credibility and eliminates companies from consideration by potential customers.

The blog is the social media rug that ties the room together

There are many ways to establish subject matter expertise through the regular publishing of thought leadership - perhaps none is better [or abused more] than the good old company blog.

78% of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing - but few are ready to the make the large investment in first-rate content producers.


Here are three data-proven ways to improve your thought leadership with blogging and content marketing that does not require executive sponsorship.



Know product-oriented content is not the same as idea-oriented content.

People look to content for information, inspiration, and entertainment. By focusing content marketing on delivering value, not selling, your audience is far more willing to engage you in conversation.

Still a little publishing gun shy? According to Havas Group’s 2017 Meaningful Brands survey, a full 84% of people expect brands to create content. Forrester even found that the average person consumes 11.4 pieces of content before making a final purchase decision.

According to the Edelman/LinkedIn study:
A majority (64%) of business decision makers use thought leadership to vet an organization’s caliber of thinking.

There is a clear connection between content and business results: 41% of C-suite executives included a company in an RFP opportunity after consuming thought leadership and nearly half said it led them to award business.


Do one thing well with each piece of content.

Rather than publishing to fill a content quota or boiling the ocean with every piece of material, the best thought leaders know how to make a lasting impact by telling their story across a mixture of pieces - freeing each article to do a single thing exceptionally well.

Edelman/LinkedIn study:
Customers want information they can quickly absorb. Short-form, 3-4 page documents rank higher than bite-sized media and short videos. This offers writers plenty of room to establish a point of view without the time-consuming process of a deep dive. Backed by the right data and illustration, a short white paper is still a powerful method to push readers through the marketing funnel. New trends, issues, and relevant analysis perform well.

  Fig.1   Percent who rate each factor as important in getting them to engage with thought leadership (top 3 shown)

Percent who rate each factor as important in getting them to
engage with thought leadership (top 3 shown)


Publish consistently.

Regularly producing interesting content poses a real challenge, but with frequency (and value) comes trust, as your audience begins to rely on you as a regular source of valuable knowledge.  

Finding the optimal publishing frequency only comes from practice and data, but the Edelman/LinkedIn study offers a clear takeaway: to stay top of mind of decision makers, the more you publish, the better your chances of creating demand with thought leadership.

If you still need a reason to start a blog to show your thought leadership, get this.

When the study’s respondents were asked what gets them to engage with a piece of thought leadership, the top responses were:
1. Thought leadership was forwarded by someone I know and respect
2. Thought leadership was forwarded by my boss
3. Thought leadership came from a source that respondents opted into


You have to give to get. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time is all it takes – if you’re not publishing, you’re missing out.