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By Emily Frumberg

What exactly is thought leadership, and what are the qualities that define thought leaders?

Thought leadership is the art of positioning your company and its people at the forefront of a specific industry. Leaders have in-depth knowledge, which they need to parlay to those in the need “to know.” As such, they become a much sought-after resource to media and potential clients, solidifying your brand with insight and authority.

Thought leaders engage prospects and customers in non-sales, industry-related conversations, and become a valued source for insights and commentary on the latest industry news and trends. By gaining the trust of prospective customers, when the time comes to make a purchase, customers will turn to the thought leader.

With that in mind, thought leadership is especially necessary for the B2B (business-to-business) landscape. An effective thought leadership platform is a critical element for establishing credibility with prospects/customers, and is an incredibly effective way to bridge trust between B2B businesses and prospects. Thought leadership can help prospects involved in the business decision-making process to gain alignment across their company regarding the problems they are facing — helping them “name” the solution.

According to the recent 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study, B2B marketers and salespeople significantly underestimate the impact of thought leadership on demand generation and sales efforts, compared to actual feedback from B2B buyers. Effective thought leadership also creates access to high-value decision makers, and senior decision-makers are willing to pay more to work with companies who have clearly articulated their vision through thought leadership. So, while thought leadership is often a means to drive awareness and visibility for a business, the study proves that it does a lot more than just that. A strong thought leadership strategy can help build a business, get that business more opportunities that it wouldn’t ordinarily be able to access, and help that business perform even better with key audiences than businesses even realize.

Elements of a strong thought leadership platform

There are a myriad of ways to position your organization as a thought leader in the industry, alerting key target audiences and appropriate centers of influence.

Your name in the press

This could include having your expert commentary on industry trends published, having a feature article published or having an op-ed that is authored by one of your company’s executives, run in an industry trade publication. To develop true thought leadership, media exposure is a must.

Production of original research

To produce original data, a company can conduct customer surveys or perform a more in-depth study with the help of a third party. This information is highly useful for reporters, and the more your research is published, the more credible prospects will view your organization, and the more they will recognize your organization as a leader in the industry. Further, providing research allows your organization to become a source of information and online content.

Publish content on your blog

Publishing content on your organization’s blog is a tried-and-true way to enhance your thought leadership platform. By providing reports, research, insightful commentary and analysis on trends in the industry, you are positioning yourself as an expert on key topics.

Speaking at industry events

From keynote speeches to panel discussions, events and conferences are chock-full of opportunities to provide insightful commentary for prospects.

Trade show participation

By attending and participating in trade shows, you open the door for the opportunity to meet with key industry reporters and position your company leaders as first-recourse sources for stories.


Thought leadership is a widespread and often extremely effective PR and marketing strategy. When done well, it can make specialized expertise accessible, strengthen a business’ reputation and spark meaningful conversations that lead to tangible business results.

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