How to plan thought leadership tailored to your sectors

Posted by Andrew Rogerson | 19-07-17


Sector marketing is a go-to strategy for B2B firms these days – and not without justification. But how do you create a thought leadership strategy that best exploits the approach?

Grist research found that 53% of FTSE 350 C-suite executives most want to hear from sector experts in the thought leadership they read. Only their clients’ views (57%) matter more.

Similarly, research by White Space discovered that 53% of senior executives want to read thought leadership targeted at their sector.

The reason for this sector fixation is simple. In the B2B sphere, success lies in demonstrating a deeper understanding than your competitors of your clients’ requirements. And their requirements are continually shaped by the dynamics of their industry.

Sector marketing methods

Survey-driven thought leadership content is well placed to meet this demand for sector perspectives. So how do you produce sector-based, thought-leading research that will resonate with your audiences?

There are two principle approaches:

1. Market-specific research

The first is to identify the key issues affecting the individual sectors you target, and create a tailored piece of research for each. DAC Beachcroft’s Insurance Market Conditions and Trends report is a good example of this approach.

The report shows how forward-looking DAC Beachcroft is as a firm, including a top-50 legal predictions for the sector. It emphasises the role that the firm could play not just as legal experts but also as risk advisors and more general experts on the insurance industry’s business landscape.

Focusing on specific markets means you’re likely to hone in on the real hot topics in each one and dive deeply into the issues. However, it can become expensive if your firm operates in a large number of sectors. Not to mention labour-intensive, as you’ll need a different research questionnaire for each market.

2. Pan-sector research

The second method involves creating a single piece of pan-sector, even global thought leadership piece which can give you a much bigger bang for you buck, then tailoring the outputs for each of your target industries. PwC’s high-profile CEO Survey does this to good effect.

The approach demands a large research sample, to enable robust sector splits of the results. PwC surveys 1,700 CEOs globally, breaking down the findings for some 16 different markets.

The larger the sample, of course, the more the survey will cost. But as it’s a single research exercise, the price per sector is lower, and only one questionnaire is needed.

Plus, this approach allows you to compare and contrast sectors, which generally makes for compelling reading by offering a different perspective.

It also means you can cut the data in other ways if needed – by region or company size, for example. You can also segment respondents by how they answer certain strategically important questions, which adds depth to your content.

Selecting your thought leadership strategy

Which method to use depends on whether the issues facing your target sectors are uniform or distinct – the people selling and delivering your services will know. 

If you’re mostly providing the same services across sectors, comparing and contrasting is the way to go, so take the pan-sector approach. If clients in different sectors are buying different services, then tailored research will provide greater value.

Either way, your survey will require a fair bit of investment upfront. If it’s your first attempt at sector marketing, you may want to start with a smaller research exercise, to get buy-in from the business before rolling out.

The benefits of sector marketing

Done well, either approach to sector research will provide compelling thought leadership content, which can drive your attract-convert-close marketing strategies over many months.

It also generates a wealth of PR fodder, as you can target the sector media in each industry.


Get in touch

At Grist, we’ve helped many B2B brands to create and implement sector-based thought leadership campaigns. Please drop us a line if you’d like to discuss your sector marketing needs.

Andrew Rogerson

Written by Andrew Rogerson

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