Tuesday 21 January 2020, Leeds

The January event held in Yorkshire was hosted by DLA and the speaker was Andrew Rogerson, the managing director of Grist, who talked through the value of thought leadership.

 Andrew’s firm surveyed the C-Suite of 525 companies globally to see what they expected of thought leadership, how and when it is consumed and what would make it better.

They found that 57% thought it was a critical element when assessing the suitability of a new advisor and 42% thought it was important.  68% read thought leadership to give them the edge over competitors and two thirds said it kept them informed of emerging trends.

It was also felt that thought leadership did contain robust data from a reliable source which is good considering the trust barometer for information is at an all-time low.  Other qualities valued are fresh thinking and informed opinion.

It was believed that unsubstantiated opinions and lack of original insight is most likely to turn a reader off thought leadership.  And the people respondents most wanted to hear from were customers followed by peers and industry experts.  Sadly for professional services, advisory firms was the second to bottom answer.

In terms of research methodology, qualitative research was preferred followed closely by quantitative research.  Regarding quantitative research it is important that the target respondent was like them in terms of job responsibility, titles and function. The attribute that is most likely to inspire trust is the quality of the analysis followed by the data source.

It was found that respondents preferred their thought leadership in the form of a blog, an article in a magazine or a white paper.  Bottom of the formats were e-books and, most surprisingly, webinars and podcasts. However it is best to share thought leadership across a number of different platforms.

It was believed that thought leadership provided the most value in the decision making process by providing the reader with a solution.

Respondents discovered thought leadership through professional networks and by simply searching online.  However the good news is that 41% did find thought leadership via professional services and advisory firms.  Recommendation from colleagues was the biggest prompt to seeking out thought leadership followed by email updates/newsletters or a recommendation from a peer.  Surprisingly social media posts were near the bottom, with 28%.

Professional networks are where most respondents engaged with thought leadership followed by LinkedIn but not Twitter which came off worst.  It’s interesting to note that Monday is the day for reading thought leadership followed by Wednesday - sadly some people were reading it at the weekend.  The optimum time for a read is between 9am and 12am, followed by lunchtime 12 – 2pm.

Respondents said they actually read 29% of all thought leadership they came across and that 29% of this content had an impact on their decision making.  If it hit mark then respondents would follow up by reading related articles and check out what the press were saying on the subject.  33% said they would attend an event on the subject too.

How do we future proof thought leadership?  Apparently by making it more interactive and accessible with digital formats, bite-size pieces and infographics.  What this research shows is that thought leadership still has its place.

written by Isobel Hainsworth-Brear