Why your brand needs thought leadership – according to 10 industry experts

Emily Taylor Gregory

For many companies, thought leadership is now an established part of the B2B marketing toolkit. If you haven’t already been convinced of the benefits, here are why 10 industry experts think it should be part of your marketing strategy.

1. Michael Brenner Marketing Insider Group

“Thought leadership is important for both B2C and B2B companies, but I think it is especially important in B2B. This is because of the complexity and length of the decision-making process in B2B environments and the large number of people involved. Thought leadership content can help anyone involved in the business decision making process to gain alignment across their company regarding the problems they are facing. It can help them to “name” the problem. For marketers, thought leadership allows us to define the category or context of our solution in customer terms. Branding is all about being associated with the questions our buyers are asking.”

2. Paul Suchman CBRE

“When we examine companies in this class and how they steward their brands, we see great examples of thought leadership — brands like IBM, GE and Accenture. What they are all doing is taking ownership of issues that are driving their respective industries forward. By owning these issues, by owning these ideas and responding to evolving marketplaces, these brands are in effect redefining and leading their industries. Thought leadership campaigns align with how world-class professional services firms utilise marketing to deliver value to their clients, to their stakeholders, and hopefully distance themselves from their competitors.”

3. Paul Lockstone Barclaycard

“We’re a very data-rich organisation, but for a long time we didn’t do much with it. Turning that data into insightful, informative communications has enabled Barclaycard to establish itself as a leading commentator on spending trends. It’s helped to change people’s perceptions of who we are.” 

4. Parker Ward Capgemini

“Thought leadership is absolutely crucial to creating that separation in the marketplace, whether that’s deepening a relationship you have with someone or just making somebody sit up and listen. When everyone out there’s trying to do that same thing, there’s a real dearth of actual insight. Trust is an ongoing issue in our industry, where we have to be taken at our word or prove that we know what we’re talking about. If we lose that trust, we don’t have anything at all.”

5. Alison Tattersall Barclays Bank

“The real nub of B2B marketing is making it really relevant. We need to show our clients that we understand the communities in which they operate and the businesses and the sector that they serve and operate in. I think the economic and political landscape is so interesting and unusual at the moment that people are desperate for information and opinions from different trusted sources. To me, it’s inviting that conversation and inviting that opinion and perspective to engage in a dialogue with clients and with prospects.”

6. Paul English Grant Thornton

“We’re often challenged as marketers to be bold and to be innovative, but there are often a thousand reasons not to do something and a queue of people to pour cold water on ideas.

Which brings me to Lewis Caroll. Alice: “This is impossible.”, The Mad Hatter: “Only if you believe it is.””  

7. Simon Rhodes Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

“Thought leadership is becoming a major pillar of go-to-market strategies across a wide range of B2B sectors. Genuine thought leadership will deliver an evidence-based point of view on the topics that keep your clients awake at night. Cultivating high-quality, robustly-researched content that focuses on your niche expertise is the foundation for a good thought leadership programme.

8. Peter Richards Lloyd’s Register

“You’ve got to have a point of view. It may seem like an obvious statement to make, but when we identified a gap in the market, we were determined to fill it. It’s now giving us an edge because we can talk about it credibly.”

9. Alastair Gornall Non-executive Chairman, FT Longitude

“I think any major brand nowadays, especially in B2B, is looking to be a thought leader in its own market. It underpins the whole reputation of that organisation, in terms of its innovation, its product development and its ability to help solve issues and problems for clients. In my view, thought leadership is a fast-moving part of the marketing mix, and there are huge gains to be made by getting it right.”

10. Rob Coveney DNV GL

“Thought leadership initiatives can help companies to grow their profile as a credible commentator on industry trends. They provide DNV GL with a valuable platform for our people to talk about issues that matter to our target clients, alongside our target clients. Our most successful thought leadership programmes have seen good success in targeting the C-suite, but also provide the opportunity to segment our key messages towards other target audiences.”

Learn more about what the creators and consumers of thought leadership think about this form of brand marketing in our recent research on the topic.

Get more views and insights from several of these leading figures in our Thought Leadership Insights Podcast here.

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About the author: Emily Taylor Gregory

Emily is our marketing director, responsible for the brand, marketing and communications strategies for FT Longitude and the Thought Leadership Network. Emily leads our content and events programmes, our digital marketing channels, as well as our speaking engagements and PR activity, working closely with our editorial and research teams to develop and promote insight and best practice at the cutting edge of thought leadership.

Before joining FT Longitude, Emily spent 14 years working in various marketing roles in the publishing and technology sectors.

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