In this State of the Industry webinar, we cover the powerful results from 2020 Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study, the power of perception of leadership, and how Sirius Decision considers vendor-neutral, third-party created content is the #1 most trusted basis for content. We also hear from Jaye Ling of Illumio, who explains their thought leadership campaign and how they built a multi-million dollar pipeline from their State of the Industry report.
In this recorded webinar, you’ll learn:
- The #1 criteria for your solution to be included in your prospects’ consideration set
- How the perception of leadership translates to having the best solution
- Why a State of the Industry report is so valuable in your market
- Content ideas to create from your State of the Industry Report
- How to drive demand, pipeline, and revenue with your report
Read Transcript Below
Tom: Hi, everybody. This is Tom Riddle from Virtual Intelligence Briefing. Thank you for joining us today for another installment of the “VIB Success Series: State of the Industry” program. Today, you’re gonna learn about the power of thought leadership. We’re going to talk about a survey that Edelman, the premier PR firm in the country, and LinkedIn do every year on thought leadership. We’re going to talk about how you can easily create thought leadership and derivative content to separate from the pack, increase decision making influence, and convert to revenue. And we’ll hear from two real-world…or hear about real-world results from two of our customers.
Today’s speakers are myself, I’m the direct of research solutions at VIB, Jaye Liang, who is the Senior Marketing Manager at Illumio, and another individual that will call, for the purposes here, Jane Doe. So, Jane found out a few minutes before the webinar, she’s actually unable to use the company name or speak for the company, but she’ll be with us speaking today.
So, the agenda, again, we’re going to talk about the Edelman LinkedIn 2020 Thought Leadership Impact Study, why that’s important. And then we’ll touch upon our state of the industry program, talk about creating the most trusted form of content and why that’s important, how the program works, case studies, and how you can attain these results, too, and finally getting started.
And so a little bit about the Edelman study. It had about 1,000 respondents, conducted worldwide. We’re gonna talk specifically, though, about the United States results. And, again, Edelman is considered the preeminent PR firm worldwide. And, of course, as mentioned, they did this study with LinkedIn. So, a really key learning from this study is that 88% of decision makers said thought leadership can be effective in enhancing their perceptions of an organization, specifically the respect for the organization that was responsible for that thought leadership increase. The perception of the organization’s capabilities increased. And this is a really important point, because the thought leadership itself content does not talk about capabilities, at all. And we’ll explain why. And the trust in an organization was is increased as well.
And so a really important point is the perception of thought leadership is the number one criteria for inclusion into a customer’s consideration set, what may they consider you. And the most trusted form of content, and this is according to SiriusDecisions, which is a marketing and sales analyst firm, a division of Forrester Research company, that vendor-neutral, third-party, end-user-based research is the number one most trusted bases of content.
And so a little bit now, drilling down on the state of the industry program, what do we do? We help you create the most trusted form of content in your own brand that vendor-neutral, third-party, end-user-based content in the volumes and varieties of topics and formats to drive multiple high-performance campaigns. And that’s gonna lead to you for, why is that important? You get higher-quality leads that convert to revenue at a higher rate. And one of our customers on the webinar today is actually gonna talk about the content’s contribution to revenue, in hard numbers.
And so how did we start with this program? About four years ago, we had a premise that if high-quality, precisely targeted surveys were everyday affordable, always delivered results, required little or no survey expertise, time, or effort, they would be a go-to solution in every marketer’s tool kit. And fast-forward to today, that’s what’s happened. And these are some of the customers that we’ve worked with on these surveys, and what you’ll hear from…and I’m paraphrasing here, obviously. But to a person, and these customers are referenceable, they’ll say it’s one of the best investments that they’ve ever made.
And so a little bit more about the most trusted form of content, as we’ve mentioned, it’s vendor-neutral, third-party content based on end users. And the reason that’s important is people wanna hear about how their peers do things. And it helps educate and motivate with this trusted form of content. And if you’re focused on the end user, what those companies are saying, well, other than the solutions themselves, they’ll automatically assume you have the best solution, it’ll be a third of must-read material, and lead to the conclusion that they need and should consider and ultimately buy from you. So, you don’t have to talk about your solution and, in fact, in thought leadership forms of content, you don’t.
And so thought leadership content is also the quickest way and most efficient way to stand out from the crowd. In every market segment, you know, there’s 50 to 100 companies. I spent time, about a week, earlier this year, at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco, and there were 700 vendors there. And you know what? At a high level, most all their messages sounded the same. So, it’s really important to be able to stand out from that crowd. And what we’re gonna talk about today is how thought leadership can be the quickest, most efficient way to stand out from the crowd and assert that thought leadership. And it’s actually easier to do than you think. And the key thing is you don’t have to be an actual leader in your market. As the Edelman survey pointed out, that if they perceive you as a thought leader, they’ll automatically assume you’ve got great capabilities. So a real quick way to stand out from the crowd.
And so what is the state of the industry program? Let’s talk about the components of the program for a moment. So, as mentioned, it enables you to create the most trusted form of content for thought leadership and demand gen, an important point in the volumes and varieties of topics and formats required to drive several high-performance campaigns. In fact, our customers typically get a year’s worth of content out of this program, to help you assert thought leadership and generate high-performance leads that create opportunities and convert to wins. And again, one of our customers will talk about some hard revenue numbers of what they realize from these reports.
So, we create a comprehensive 18 to 22-question survey, employing survey best practices. And the questions are designed, one, for stand-alone value, but also to work together to yield a cornucopia of production-ready, compelling charts, statistics, insights, and money quotes that we make it very easy for you to curate from to create this killer content. And we’re gonna show you, actually, a formula for making that content that’s proven to work. And so how do we do that? After we’ve developed a survey, we go out and we collect 250-plus, typically 350-plus, but minimum of 250 completed responses from engaged, precisely targeted personas.
Again, we employ survey best practices for engagement and accuracy, with QC at every stage of the survey process. Then we do a comprehensive analysis on the results in a format that makes it surprisingly easy to develop high-performance content that converts. And again, you can create a year’s worth of compelling content in those volumes and varieties in different formats. And we’re gonna show you the examples of those formats from a thought leadership report. Webinars, infographics, social, blog series, press releases, sales decks, investor decks, event decks, and more.
And, so, 90% of the time and effort for this program is on our side. The program is complete in about six weeks. You’re the sole owner of all the survey results. And, again, we’re gonna show you some compelling customer examples in a few minutes.
So, one of the keys to doing a great survey is targeting the personas precisely. So, for us, we’ve got a 2-million-plus community of professionals in IT, OT, HR, and other areas. And the key is they respect our brand. And the reason why is because they are promised to receive the survey results first. It makes them important in their organization. It empowers them to inform, to educate, and advocate for the solutions they need. It provides them the proof points they need, which, in this case, will be your solutions. So we’ll use precise filtering, and then we do additional in-survey screening to make sure these people, even if we know they’re the right titles and roles, that they are in and around the information enough to give well-informed answers. And, again, we only include those who complete the survey. And there’s a bunch of good reasons for that we could discuss on a follow-up call.
And so it’s a unique offering. People ask us, “Are you an analyst firm?” And the answer is no. Analyst firms talk about you and your competitors, and that’s great if you happen to be an industry leader and a darling of the analyst firms. What we do is we help you control your own thought leadership destiny through the most trusted form of content, again, which is vendor-neutral, end-user-based. But the important thing, it’s in your own brand. And so both of these models have high value, which successful companies understand.
Another thing I wanted to mention as an aside, and we get asked this sometimes, “Well, how do you compare to this other form of report, which is a multi-sponsor report?” And, well, you know, it’s a dying model. It screams of “I paid to have my logo included on the cover of this report,” with other companies, by the way. And because of that, it lumps you in with that least common denominator competitor, associates you with that rather than you uniquely standing out from the crowd. So it has that opposite effect to that.
And so here are some examples of content I’ve developed in the program. And we’ll get into this in a little bit more detail, but example of a state of the industry report, a blog series. And I’m gonna touch a little bit more on the blog series and how the survey deliverables help you with ideation in that regard. So, webinars. Very important point is media interviews. So, it’s one thing to have a media outlet, quote a few words or a couple of stats from your survey. But really what you want is that information to be compelling enough that they want to interview somebody on your team to discuss those results and how they apply to you. So, that’s a key point. So, it’s gotta be a really insightful, interesting, and credible survey to accomplish that. Our customers use us for presentations at industry events as well, infographics, and more. And a key point, and we’re gonna talk about that in a minute, is a formula to make it surprisingly easy to develop this impressive, impactful content.
And so a little bit more. I mentioned ideation. So, another nice point about the survey, and we’re gonna talk about how we develop these questions to yield these kinds of results, is ideation. So, besides doing a foundational thought leadership report, the contents of the survey, the deliverables, give you a lot of ideas but a high variety of facets, of topics, for ideation to create other forms of content. Anybody in the audience that’s been tasked with developing a blog series or writing blogs knows that, hey, it’s pretty easy to come up with the first couple of ideas, things you’ve always thought about, have been passionate about. But once you run out of those ideas, it can be tough the next week you have to do a new blog post. “Well, what am I gonna write it on?”
So, here’s an example of a customer that started with a four-part blog series. And the cool thing is, because these topics are slightly different, different facets, but they all tie together, it makes an actual series. And if somebody reads the first one and likes it, the odds are they’re gonna read the rest. So, in this case, they actually were able to produce seven different blog posts over a six-month period.
And so now, let’s hear from Jaye Liang. Jaye is a Senior Marketing Manager at Illumio, a leader in security segmentation, Zero Trust eXtended platforms.
Jaye: Thank you. Thanks to the VIB team for having me. I’m Jaye Liang, with Illumio. I’m Senior Marketing Manager there. So, a little bit about Illumio. We’re a Zero Trust leader, and we focus on security segmentation to stop lateral movement.
I love what I do because we are collectively on a mission to enable every organization to realize a future without high-profile breaches. I’m personally responsible for demand generation and account-based marketing. And my challenge may not be [inaudible 00:15:17] in where I’m always looking for ways to identify our market, engage with them, and position Illumio in a favorable light to partner with them on their journey to better security. But where I started working with VIB is we really wanted to get some insight to find out how, you know, IT security professionals are addressing security segmentation in their organizations. So, we really wanted to work together to conduct a survey. So we worked with the VIB team to fine-tune our survey questions, to ensure we received the insight that we were looking to gather at the end, and that the survey was launched to the right people within reach. And once the survey was launched, it took about four to six weeks when we had the results in our hands where we were able to just run with it and create and build, you know, Illumio’s first state of security segmentation report and enough stackable content to repurpose in social email content syndication and other demand generation channels.
I definitely highly recommend the service, as the team is great to work with. They’re so invested with our success, and the results, as I mentioned, were just very clear and concise and made it easy for us to run with. And to date, this report is the second most visited piece of content on our website. It’s pretty much the gift that keeps giving for us, because we keep using it in different ways. We take this and, you know, some of the stats and, you know, promote it. So it’s just the gift that keeps giving. And we actually have another survey lined up for our next topic. So, really happy with the results, [inaudible 00:17:00] the value that I was looking for. So, thank you [inaudible 00:17:06].
Tom: Thank you very much, Jaye. And now let’s hear from Jane Doe.
Jane: Can you hear me, Tom?
Tom: I can.
Jane: Hello, everyone. Yes, I had to be anonymous due to company restrictions. But I just wanted to mention I’ve been working with Tom and the VIB team since 2017. And, actually, so, we had two reports that we’ve been doing. The third one is in the works right now for 2020. And they’ve just been one of the best lead generation assets that I’ve seen in my career. It’s a mix of having really, you know, objective, third-party…uninvolved neutral third-party data that we’ve collected that the end users find very interesting to see [inaudible 00:17:59].
We’ve used this as a way to also, you know, cross-promote our presentations at executive events and at user group meetings where we’ve had our board members present the findings. It’s been really successful, and you can see where this report, you have a graphic image that’s compelling. And just to give you some of the results here, you can see that there’s about, I think, a total of 1800 leads gleaned since 2018 in terms of the return in $2 million worth of [inaudible 00:18:38] deals and another additional $3 million in the pipe that we helped to close in 2020.
So, this is an ongoing thing, and as Tom mentioned, this is an asset that is good for a year. So every year, we just re-up our contract because they’re so easy to work with. It’s up to our team to come up with kind of the survey themes. We’re thinking ahead of what’s interesting for the end users to read, what’s interesting for cross-analysts and, you know, to push out there that’s something new. And it’s been working really well. And I guess that’s, you know, kinda coming back to why I love marketing is that you can do both creative and analytical work at the same time, and you use both of those means to rise above the noise in a very noisy cybersecurity land. So, thank you very much for all…
Tom: [crosstalk 00:19:37]
Jane: …for what you do.
Tom: And thank you very much. I appreciate your continued support for what we do. Okay. And now let’s talk about, how do you create that great content? Well, we provide you with deliverable [inaudible 00:19:54] kit that has 20-plus questions, the responses to those questions grouped by topic sections, including role-based and drill-down questions. And so what you get is 25 to 30 production-ready, editable charts, plus we provide you the underlying data. And so you get insights, statistics, also data cuts. It’s important to know, you want in your report…you may want to segment by roles, by company sizes. Or let’s say somebody says a challenge is extreme for them. You may wanna know about how they answered other questions about the solutions they have today or the lack of those solutions. Those are key things that you wanna include in the report.
And almost every question has an option where they can add more, a “Care to elaborate?” option where they can type in anything additional they wanna say. And this is awesome for capturing those money quotes that humanize that data, that either talk about that pain that they’re experiencing every day, or the joy, or the value from overcoming that or having a solution that’s capable of doing more.
So, there’s a simple formula for creating super-effective content. And if I was to show you a piece of content from which this report is an excerpt, and I do this on customer calls, the first thing I hear is, “Well, that’s super-impressive, but I think that would be hard for us to do internally on a tight budget. We just don’t have the bandwidth or the skill sets to do that.” Well, there’s a very easy formula. What I did is I analyzed the reports that our customers produce. And I looked to see, from their feedback, which ones were the absolute most compelling in terms of the value that they delivered, the number of leads, the revenue, and all that. And what I found was there’s a very simple formula. And in this case, there’s a section header, which is specific to a certain grouping of questions. And then simply why they ask that question.
Then showing the chart, again, this chart is production ready and editable. You can change font size and colors and things like that. So show the chart, and then talk about the chart, what that means, and then close with a money quote or two that humanizes that data. And so this is a rinse and repeat formula that’s tried and true to work, and it’s actually very easy to execute on.
And so a little bit about…I’m gonna pick up the pace here, because we’ve got seven more minutes, and we need to have time for that drawing at the end…is that there’s a certain methodology for developing the questions to meet the goals of informing and educating decision makers with this must-read content to provide the social proof that makes that need clear to them and others in the organization and to focus their interest on you, and to do so in a way that can yield those volumes and varieties of topics in formats required to drive those campaigns. I’m not gonna spend a lot of time on this other than to say there’s certain components or modules that classically go into a good state of the industry survey. But I wanna mention that these are all tuned to your specific needs, and a key point is every program is unique. No two are similar. In fact, in most cases, the only questions that are similar between two surveys are, “What is your role and your title?” and things like that.
And so a little bit about the success list here. And these are things you should look for, whether you’re planning on doing a survey internally or looking at somebody else to help you with that. We touched on a bunch of these here in this presentation so far. So, these are included in the slide deck. We’ll send you the slide deck. And we could talk more about this in a follow-up call, depending on your level of interest. And I’ll just take a second, because we’ve got a few other moments to summarize.
So, we talked today about the power of thought leadership. We gave you some examples from one of the most trusted PR firms in the world, comprehensive study. We’ve talked about how easy it is to actually create this thought leadership and derivative content to separate you from the pack and to increase the decision maker influence, your influence with decision makers, and how to convert to revenue. And, hopefully, we’ve given you confidence that you can do this, too, with this tried and true formula. And programs start at $15,000. That’s all. And, actually, the typical program is about $15,000. And again, this program is engineered to meet into those types of budgets.
So, thanks again for your time today. Very much appreciated, and we look forward to following up with you and helping you understand how this can work for you. Thanks again.