Article By Nick Turney, SVP, National Business Marketing Lead, Edelman Canada.

A large part of B2B work is warming qualified leads, priming and nurturing them to go through an accelerated buyer’s journey. There is often a strong focus on capturing low hanging fruit or converting prospects into low hanging fruit. But as our latest joint Edelman/LinkedIn Thought Leadership study shows, 95% of businesses are in fact not shopping for products and services.

In other words, the vast majority of potential business remains untapped – or, to use a familiar analogy, like ripe fruits on the highest branches, out of reach for those unwilling to climb.

Thought leadership has the power to change this. It empowers companies to introduce different ideas and perspectives on industry challenges, effectively sowing the seeds for future engagement. This strategy not only captures attention at the inception of the customer journey but also enriches subsequent stages, thereby boosting the likelihood of conversion.

We will be expanding further on the role thought leadership can play in marketing and communication activities, and how this should come to life to drive value back to the organization, but overall, businesses should:

  • Leverage thought leadership as a core part of the full marketing and communications mix
  • Embrace technology that make thought leadership turnkey and measurable
  • Include regional relevancy
  • Involve and align internal stakeholders

As we work with our clients, our counsel has always been to take advantage of the full funnel. It’s not about trying to force a prospect down, but rather, have content in place that can intercept and capture them wherever they are in their journey. Thought leadership stands out as an indispensable component of this strategy, serving as both an initial engagement tool and a nurturing element that enhances direct marketing and sales efforts' effectiveness.

Yet, the mistake we often see is treating thought leadership as a separate workstream, removing it from mid/lower funnel activities. This can diminish its potential impact on the broader strategy, particularly in terms of driving measurable results. To be effective, thought leadership needs to work in concert with all activities, and be tracked and measured accordingly, showing ROI back to the business. Having the right data is critical to help understand the value of that content.

Explore the findings 

Tellingly, our study shows that incorporating thought leadership into your marketing and communication strategy not only broadens your engagement reach beyond immediate opportunities but also cultivates your potential market. Three-quarters of decision-makers (73%) and C-suite leaders (74%) told us they find an organization’s thought-leadership content a more trustworthy basis for assessing its capabilities and competencies than traditional marketing materials and product sheets. This trust underscores the critical role of thought leadership in establishing credibility and authority in the marketplace.

Moreover, over half (54%) of decision-makers report that consistent production of thought-leadership content has prompted them to research a company’s offerings or capabilities further. And, more than three-quarters of decision-makers and C-suite executives admit that a specific piece of thought leadership has driven them to investigate a product or service they had not previously considered.

When discussing with clients, we often hear that cost is a barrier to engaging thought leadership, but the reality is that it isn’t out of reach. The fast-paced nature of the business environment necessitates a versatile marketing approach, and technology has made these solutions very accessible and turnkey.

Though a lot of thought leadership content is high level enough where learnings can be applied regardless of regions, where we’ve found success is helping our clients take global thought leadership content and adding a regional lens to it. Canada shares similarities with our neighbour to the south, but there are still important regional differences, including infrastructure, policy and language. By tailoring our thought leadership content to have regional insights and tie to in market offerings, we are able to provide that extra level of relevancy to connect with Canadian businesses. This also ensures a through line that connects IP with down funnel sales activities, creating a cohesive narrative for prospects. This means that as we plan for thought leadership content, it includes involving key stakeholders from our clients across the board including marketing, communications, sales, and products.

What these insights tell us is that including thought leadership as part of a marketing and communications strategy enables businesses to look beyond just the existing low hanging fruit, to a vast world of untapped potential customers.

Want to find out more?

Explore the global findings.