February 21, 2024

Being Thoughtful about Thought Leadership: How to Build Credibility and Influence

Just saying something is a thought leadership piece doesn’t make it so – just check your LinkedIn feed. But there’s no denying its importance in marketing, as a recent LinkedIn/Edelman study reported that 58% of B2B decision makers said thought leadership was one of the top three factors that differentiates a company from its competitors. To produce real valuable content that will establish your brand as a known, credible expert, the information has to be high quality, provide some semblance of innovation or a new perspective, but not just novel for novel’s sake as the objective is to educate your audience. That’s the quid pro quo. Credibility and leadership are granted in exchange for insightful, educational information that, will, over time, establish your brand as a trusted, reputable entity whose efforts result in positive changes, influence decisions, and inspire action – which is the essence of leadership.

Defining Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is more than just a buzzword or a catch-all description for your company’s sales literature. It's a strategic approach to content creation and industry engagement that positions an individual or a company as a credible expert in their field. Thought leaders don't merely regurgitate existing information; they offer innovative perspectives, share valuable insights, and inspire action within their target audience. Thought leadership isn't about self-promotion but about delivering real value to your audience.

Why Do It?

Competitive Differentiation

In a cluttered marketplace – and what marketplace isn’t?, finding separation from your competition is critical. In a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 55% of decision-makers said they spend over an hour per week consuming thought leadership content. That’s significant mindshare, and when you consistently provide valuable insights and unique perspectives, your brand will become memorable and distinct.

Building Trust and Credibility

Becoming a thought leader is synonymous with building trust and credibility within your industry. By consistently delivering high-quality, insightful content, you establish yourself as a reliable source of information. Decision-makers are more likely to trust and respect a brand that has a track record of providing valuable insights.

Influencing Decisions and Inspiring Action

Thought leading companies have the power to influence their audience's decisions and inspire action. When they consistently share valuable information, they become a go-to resource for industry knowledge. This influence can translate into increased engagement, conversions, and customer loyalty. And keep in mind, your audiences want your best thinking: as Demand Gen Report found, 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders.

Attracting and Retaining Customers

Companies with thought leaders often attract more customers and retain existing ones. Your thought leadership content can help potential clients understand your expertise, making them more likely to choose your products or services over competitors. Additionally, thought leaders tend to have better customer retention rates due to the trust they've built.

Strengthening Brand Reputation

A strong thought leadership presence enhances your brand's reputation. People naturally gravitate towards brands they perceive as experts in their field. Over time, this can lead to increased brand loyalty and advocacy. According to LinkedIn and Edelman's study, 88% of B2B decision-makers believe that thought leadership enhances a brand's reputation. But putting out unsubstantial or more sales-oriented content, will do the opposite and diminish the brand, so be diligent about what goes out on behalf of your company.

Do it Right

If you and your company currently produce thought leadership content or are looking to start, it’s only worth it if you do it right and that means approaching it as a strategic initiative that can significantly impact your marketing efforts across brand perception, competitive differentiation, purchasing consideration and customer loyalty. By consistently providing high-quality, innovative, and educational content, you can differentiate your brand, build trust and credibility, influence decisions, and inspire action. Well-crafted and consistent thought leadership is a powerful tool for B2B marketers and those that embrace the role of a thought leader will see their brand’s position strengthen as it becomes a trusted and influential company in its industry.

Roland Deal

President & Co-Founder, Audyence