Key findings

Executives are consuming more thought leadership, but from fewer sources. For marketers, the challenge will be to reverse the trend of “more is better”.

Key finding #1

Audiences are confused or overwhelmed by the volume of content they encounter with more than half noting that ‘intrusiveness’ has increased in the last 12 months

3 in 5 global executives sometimes feel confused or overwhelmed by the volume of content they encounter

56% of executives think that intrusiveness has increased

Key finding #2

Still marketers continue to churn out content

80% of marketers plan to increase their output of thought leadership this year

Yet marketers believe on average only a quarter of all thought leadership content is engaged with

Key finding #3

Internal issues can be a barrier to thought leadership development

More than 60% of marketers strongly agree or somewhat agree that internal alignment is a barrier to creating effective thought leadership

Media partners 50%
Customers / other external stakeholders 47%
All employees 49%
Outside consultants 45%
Sales executives 36%
PR and communication executives 31%
Content strategists 30%
C-suite 27%
Marketing executives 25%
Internal subject matter experts 20%
Division heads / business unit heads 19%

Those not involved in thought leadership development but who should be

Key finding #4

On a more positive note, the vast majority of executives recognise an improvement in presentation, aesthetics and delivery

67% noticed an increase in optimisation of content across devices

63% note improvement in ease of access and navigation

60% saw an increase in visual or aesthetic appeal of delivery

Key finding #5

Executives have become more selective about the thought leadership they consume because of volume

75% of executives have become more selective

Just over 80% cite volume of content as the reason for being more selective

Key finding #6

Executives remain hungry for thought leadership content

33% of executives consume thought leadership daily

Just under 20% of executives have increased consumption “a lot” over the past 12 months

Key finding #7

The rewards are big for those who get it right. After consuming compelling thought leadership

76% of senior executives are influenced in their purchasing decisions

67% would be willing to advocate for that brand or organisation externally

83% would be influenced in their choice of business partner

Key finding #8

Marketers see thought leadership as a flexible strategy that can help with a range of goals

Differentiate company from the competition 47%
Gain recognition for your company/key individuals as authority in their field 42%
Build awareness of company brand 34%
Increase new revenue 27%
Pave the way for a change of direction/entry into a new market 20%
Further/support company’s issues or policy agenda 17%

Key finding #9

Thought leadership attributes

The qualities executives most associate with compelling thought leadership

Innovative 40%*
Big Picture 36%*
Transformative 36%*
Credible 35% *

* % of executives associating their top three qualities with compelling thought leadership

The qualities executives associate with unimpressive thought leadership

Superficial 34%*
Sales driven 31%*
Biased 28%*

* % of executives associating their top three qualities with unimpressive thought leadership

Key finding #10

Credibility is based on the quality of research, not the brand; nearly half of executives would consider a new source of content if it were a “source of hard facts”

Quality or nature of research analysis 55%
Credible data 55%
Expert opinion 33%
Evident or declared interest by the provider 14%
Secondary data validation 13%
The brand plays an active role 7%
The media / public profile of the provider 5%
No branding at all 3%
Other, please specify 1%
I do not trust thought leadership 1%