How to Reach the C-Suite via Thought Leadership

How to Reach the C-Suite via Thought Leadership

I sat down with Gareth Lofthouse, one of the co-founders of the thought leadership agency Longitude, to get a preview of the findings in their study, “Learning from the Leaders.” First of all, do you draw a distinction between thought leadership content and other content marketing? Gareth Lofthouse: There is an awful lot of content out there at the moment, which, at best, is interesting opinion and not much more than that. Good thought leadership does more than that. It and that’s why you see research as a big part of the thought leadership mix. Gareth Lofthouse: What was really, really encouraging for me with this research (and we surveyed over 1000 senior executives from a cross-section of industries, in terms of how they engage with this type of content) is that they value thought leadership…providing it’s good. And “good” executive-level thought leadership content means: It provides new insight It’s relevant to my problem It’s backed by credible research That came across very strongly. But if you take those three things and then you bring them to life in a way that’s easy to consume and interesting to engage with, there’s a hunger for it. Gareth Lofthouse: It shows that senior executives use it to inform decision-making. What do you see on the horizon, in terms of executive thought leadership? There’s definitely a sense that the model as practiced by corporates needs to move on from something where you do a project that starts with a very heavy-duty survey.

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For the last several years, dire warnings of “content shock” have cast doubt on the continued ability of thought leadership content – or any kind of content marketing – to deliver results. But new research provides fresh encouragement for thought leadership marketers, especially those targeting senior-level decision makers.

I sat down with Gareth Lofthouse, one of the co-founders of the thought leadership agency Longitude, to get a preview of the findings in their study, “Learning from the Leaders.”

First of all, do you draw a distinction between thought leadership content and other content marketing?

Gareth Lofthouse:
There is an awful lot of content out there at the moment, which, at best, is interesting opinion and not much more than that. At worst, it’s self-serving and rather salesy. Good thought leadership does more than that. It and that’s why you see research as a big part of the thought leadership mix.

Good thought leadership content

The C-Suite has always been difficult for marketers to reach, let alone engage in a meaningful way. Does your new research identify any promising new paths for getting content to the corner offices?

Gareth Lofthouse:
What was really, really encouraging for me with this research (and we surveyed over 1000 senior executives from a cross-section of industries, in terms of how they engage with this type of content) is that they value thought leadership…providing it’s good.

And “good” executive-level thought leadership content means:

  • It provides new insight
  • It’s relevant to my problem
  • It’s backed by credible research

That came across very strongly. They like opinion, but opinion on its own is not enough. It has to bring something else, some evidence behind the assertions being made.

But if you take those three things and then you bring them to life in a way that’s easy to consume and interesting to engage with, there’s a hunger for it. There’s enough going on in the world, enough challenges that these executives are uncertain about, so actual insight that tells them something they don’t know, that helps them solve their business problems, is valuable enough for them to engage with.

Other things we found include how long they spend consuming thought leadership.

  • On average, in this research, senior executives are spending four hours consuming different forms of thought leadership content every week.

If you compare that to some of the metrics that digital marketers talk about, measuring success in terms of seconds and minutes, that shows something that has real power.

What did the research say about the impact of effective thought leadership?

Gareth Lofthouse:
It shows that senior executives use it to inform decision-making. For example, when they perceive a brand to be exceptionally good at thought leadership, then they are more likely to favor that brand in terms of considering them for business tenders.

You’ve looked at how senior people use and consume content – but what are your observations on their role in formulating, projecting and leveraging thought leadership? Do they need to be thought leaders themselves?

Gareth Lofthouse:

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