Although thought leadership is increasingly indispensable to B2B companies seeking to be recognized for their expertise, executives have a dim view of the content that’s available today, according to a recent study spearheaded by Buday Thought Leadership Partners that was produced in partnership with Rattleback and Phronesis Partners.
In fact, less than a quarter of the executives we surveyed (23%) said the thought leadership content they’ve read is of extremely high value; four out of 10 said that it was only of moderate value. But while they question its quality, 68% said thought leadership is “very” or “extremely” important to them. In fact, 70% use it to inform decision making at each stage of the buying process.
These are among the top findings presented in our latest report, “Rethinking Thought Leadership.” In addition to surveying U.S. B2B executives who consume thought leadership (TL), we polled 163 executives at B2B companies that produce thought leadership in the management consulting, IT services, tech, law, investment banking, venture capital, private equity, and accounting sectors to understand what separates organizations that excel in thought leadership (“TL Leaders”) from those that struggle with it (“TL Laggards”).
Among the biggest differences was the importance TL Leaders place on being perceived as a top expert in their domain. Not surprisingly, 100% of TL Leaders said being regarded as a top expert in their domain was “extremely” or “highly” important – both today and by 2027. Conversely, only 47% of TL Laggards said being recognized as a thought leader is extremely or highly important today, and even fewer (33%) believe it would be so four years from now.
The report is the result of the most comprehensive cross-industry study on thought leadership undertaken by Buday TLP and its partners. Here are six of our biggest findings:
- Consumers of thought leadership devour the content when it is compelling – and evidence-based.
- Many producers of thought leadership do not realize how important their content is to their largest customers. (Executives at companies with revenues between $20 billion and $50 billion who read thought leadership rated its importance as 4.43 on a scale of 1-5, which was much higher than companies with revenues below $20 billion, who rated it less than 4.00 on this scale.)
- For producers of thought leadership, creating exceptional content is extremely difficult.
- The biggest challenge for producers of thought leadership is managing the tug-of-war over promotional spending.
- The best way for TL producers to bring their expertise to market is through video and audio.
- A supportive business culture is essential to thought leadership excellence.
Our research reveals that all producers of thought leadership must up their games to consistently deliver high-value content and meet their customers’ heightened expectations. The report offers recommendations for thought leadership practitioners – including researchers, writers, designers, marketers, business strategists and sales leaders – on how to develop better content and market it better.
In addition to surveying thought leadership consumers and producers, we also interviewed executives from the automotive, consumer packaged goods, media and entertainment, and public sector.
Click on the link below to read the full “Rethinking Thought Leadership” report. For more information, contact Bob Buday at Bob@BudayTLP.com.
 152 B2B executives answered 22 questions; 5800+ answered five omnibus questions.