How the pandemic changed thought leadership

I am regularly asked how the pandemic has changed thought leadership content – and whether any changes will prove permanent. My answers are “a lot” and “yes”. Here’s why…

The business world has changed dramatically, particularly for the B2B buyers and sellers with whom I work. And I’m clear that the changes they have faced will not be reversed. Don’t take my word for it though.

Research from McKinsey revealed that 3 in 4 B2B sellers now say that selling online is at least as effective for them, although there are many who still prefer face-to-face selling.

Whilst the number of face-to-face meetings has declined, live chats and webinars over the last two years have proven surprisingly effective. These outlets, according to McKinsey, “have emerged as the predominant channels for interacting and closing sales with B2B customers”.

Although “20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales”, remote conversations have simplified the ability for buyers to get information, or place orders. The time savings, convenience, and safety from working online have become clearer with “70% – 80% of B2B decision-makers, preferring remote human interactions or digital self-service”.

McKinsey’s research also shows that 9 out of 10 buyers and sellers believe that these new models, the online and virtual world, will stay. To sell in this environment, however, organisations need to change the way they talk about and present themselves. And this is where thought leadership comes back into focus as a highly effective form of business content.

Even before the pandemic, the 2020 Edelman LinkedIn Thought Leadership Study reported that B2B decision-makers are spending meaningful time reading, listening to, or viewing thought leadership content. And today’s new business models have created a new and fertile environment for thought leadership when face-to-face is not a regular option.

All recent experience suggests that businesses are looking afresh at the content they produce and reaching this same conclusion.

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