Edelman and LinkedIn launch new study on thought leadership and buying behaviour

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Edelman and LinkedIn have collaborated on a new research study of more than 1,300 business decision-makers and C-suite executives that explores how thought leadership influences their behaviors throughout the B2B purchase process.

The study built insights from nearly 3,600 business decision-makers across industries in the UK, USA, Canada, Singapore, Australia, and India.

The same Edelman-LinkedIn study found that B2B buyers are likely to pay more to work with companies having a strong leadership presence. Thought leadership can have a high ROI.

The data reveals the following preferences when it comes to valuable content:

  • 81% of decision-makers want provocative insights that challenge their assumptions rather than validation of their current thinking.
  • 80% want thought leadership that includes 3rd party data from trusted sources rather than just proprietary insights from the publishing company.
  • 77% are interested in hearing from deep subject matter experts delving into specialized topics over senior executives speaking to high-level business issues.
  • 64% favor a more human, less formal tone of voice rather than an academic intellectual voice.

Also, it’s not enough to reach your audience; you must resonate with them. Understanding your audience is crucial. Research shows that almost 50% of decision-makers feel that most thought leadership does not seem to be executed with their specific needs in mind.

Gartner reports that the buyer journey is more complex than ever: today’s typical purchase committee includes “six to 10 decision makers‚ each armed with four or five pieces of information they have gathered independently and must de-conflict with the group. At the same time, the set of options and solutions buying groups are expanding as new technologies, products, suppliers, and services emerge.”

Thought leadership can play a critical role in influencing this group, but only if you’re able to address a variety of needs.


In today’s digital-first B2B environment, thought-leadership content is more important than ever.

Design your content plan to achieve specific strategic business objectives like changing brand perceptions, earning trust, filling in media blind spots, and recruiting talent.

To break through the noise, be approachable and fun as well as informative and educational. Doing so can help you grab the attention of key decision-makers when it matters — both early and throughout the buying process.