A thought leader is positioned as an expert and opinion leader on a certain topic. Find out here what the advantages are of having such an expert status for B2B marketing and how you can grab attention as a thought leader.
Thought leadership: building up your status as an expert
A thought leader is someone who is an expert in a certain field and whose opinion is highly sought after for certain topics. This person is considered a pioneer and has in-depth knowledge of the industry as well as deep competence in the specialist field. This means they have insights into questions and can give insightful thoughts on developments which may impact the industry or field. The company can then profit from this one or several thought leaders, who ultimately represent the company. In this way, thought leadership, generally speaking, has a positive effect on marketing and sales – and, in the end, on sales.
LinkedIn survey: how thought leaders influence B2B decision-makers
In collaboration with the Edelmann communications agency, the LinkedIn career network published the report 2021 B2B Thought Leadership: Impact Study on how thought leadership influences the awareness and the purchasing behaviour of B2B decision-makers. These are some select key insights from the survey:
- 54 per cent of the decision-makers surveyed answered that they spend more than one hour of time a week reading literature and opinions from thought leadership content.
- 71 per cent of those surveyed said that they consume this kind of content in order to remain up to date in their business field and to find inspiration for their own company.
- Likewise, 54 per cent of the survey’s participants claimed that they read literature with thought leadership content from a certain company which they would not have considered before without this content.
- 60 per cent of those surveyed believe that thought leaders have a positive effect on the credibility of their company; and especially for small, young and/or unknown companies, they make for more awareness and reach.
How to become a thought leader: capturing strategic topics
What is needed to become a thought leader as a company or brand and to be made aware of as such? One of the most important levers for the successful positioning of a CEO or other company decision-maker is the strategic capture of relevant topics. At the same time, the thoughts should not be seen as hidden or partial product advertising. Instead, topics are suitable which are off the beaten path from the company’s everyday business, but which pay into the company’s strategic goals. The content should offer the reader added value. This, however, is no easy task. For instance, 71 per cent of those surveyed for the 2021 B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study said that they consider less than half of the content they read to be valuable.
What’s more: those who have excellent knowledge of their specialist field should try to take it to the streets. Successful press relations are essential for the status as a thought leader and for the brand awareness of a company. Above all, special interest literature is considered especially trustworthy among many decision-makers in the industry.
The podcast format is also excellent for explaining in part complex and multifaceted products and services in the B2B segment, and then making this explanation available to the wider public. Other advantageous ways to bring attention to your thought leadership is by having a personal blog or a company blog, or by publishing guest reports on other websites.
And last but not least, career networks such as LinkedIn or XING are essential in the B2B segment for positioning yourself or your company as an expert. For buyers in B2B companies, getting in touch with potential sellers is easy and common when they have identified a thought leader in these networks.
Best practice: Siemens distinguished with an award
The technology company Siemens has completely internalised the thought leadership idea. It was distinguished with the Thought Leadership Award 2022, which honours the best communication regarding big public debates within the business and society realms. The jury explained their reason for this with a “continuous and strict communication for all five different topics”. Also on their own channels, Siemens continually communicates the five major topics of digitalisation, diversity, green sustainability, New Work and future-proof business, and connects these with their own competencies in the area of digitalisation.