Can you measure the impact of thought leadership on your business?

Can you measure the impact of thought leadership on your business?

Thought leadership – it’s a critical tool in the marketer’s toolbox. But it can be hard for marketers to prove its value for the business.

As marketers come under growing pressure to demonstrate the value of thought leadership campaigns, a new framework has been launched by the Thought Leadership Network (TLN).

TLN, a new membership initiative between the Financial Times and Longitude, marked its launch with a report into ways marketers can begin to measure the impact of thought leadership marketing on a business.

But this raises the question: is it realistically possible to achieve this?

A new framework

It comes on the back of research that found that only 42% of marketing leaders say they can quantitatively prove the long-term impact of marketing spend and only 52% in a Kantar study said they are confident their organisation has the right balance between short-term performance marketing and long-term brand building.

The report includes a framework intended to form the basis of discussion. While admitting there are no hard-and-fast rules for the process, it lays out six principles. These form the basis, the report says, of effective thought leadership measurement.

The principles begin with organisational alignment which, the report concludes, far outweighs engagement metrics, brand recall or revenue conversations in ensuring the success of thought leadership campaigns. Its ambitious recommendations also include ‘fully integrating thought leadership into the DNA of the business – it must not be seen as a discrete marketing activity.’

98%Senior marketers find thought leadership measurement highly challenging
82%Unhappy with their current approach
86%Focus on what is easiest to measure
63%Under pressure to show short-term returns

The framework also puts serious thought into issues such as categories of thought leadership.

Three are described:

  • Reimagine – in which activity aims to pivot the organisation into a new reality
  • Renovate – attracting new and existing customers by focusing on past successes and moving into new areas
  • Reinforce – strengthening customer loyalty and retention.

The report is clear that thought leadership effectiveness should not be considered simply at the campaign level but at the portfolio level.

State of play

In a straw poll conducted by TLN on the issue, 98% of senior marketers said they found thought leadership measurement highly challenging, while 82% admitted to being unhappy with their current approach. Meanwhile, 86% of respondents confessed to focusing on what is easiest to measure and 63% said they were under pressure to show short-term returns.

Tia McPhee (see main image), Global Brand Director at the Financial Times, and a member of the advisory board for TLN, says, “More and more global brands rely on content and thought leadership to deliver their marketing message. We know thought leadership has a real impact on business perceptions, but it remains a challenge for marketers to prove its worth. It’s vital to have tools that allow us to demonstrate the value of these initiatives.”