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B2B thought leadership research

Circle is an expert in B2B thought leadership research. We’ll help you to become a thought leader in your sector by:

  • Mapping the information landscape to identify a resonant, unique angle
  • Conducting primary research which adds fresh energy to the debate
  • Using our in-house writers to turn research insights into engaging, hard hitting content
  • Working with your PR and marketing agencies to maximise reach

Over the last decade we’ve supported dozens of world-leading B2B brands in their thought leadership and PR activity. Brands like Vodafone, SAP, Oracle and Bing. We couple this extensive experience with a deep understanding of B2B marketing and how the market consumes content.

The result is research which makes a real difference.


Our guiding principles

Our guiding principles

Through this extensive experience and the self-funded research undertaken by our CircleLabs™ team, we’ve developed a deep understanding of how to create a successful thought leadership campaign. This is encapsulated in our 7R model:

1. Resonant. Rather than diving in and producing a piece on what seems to be the latest hot topic; pause. Speak with as many people in your market as possible. What are their pressures and priorities? What interests them? What information would they bite your hand off for? This will ensure your chosen angle is valuable and in demand

2. Rare. Before committing to a particular route take each of the subject areas identified in your discussions with the market and identify competitors for similar mind space (remember, these are competitors for share of mind not necessarily direct competitors).  Then audit everything already published, map out the angles taken and identify areas of white space.  This will ensure that the thought leadership you produce is not only in demand, but unique

3. Road mapped.  Unique and compelling angle in hand, a thought leadership strategy is needed.  At its core should be a theme which will guide all of your activity in a coherent manner and allow a series of complementary pieces to be created.  This gives focus, establishes you as an authority in the subject area and ensures marketing of each subsequent piece benefits from investment in the last

4. Robust. The temptation now is to leap in and publish a paper detailing ‘our view on…’.  But nowadays readers demand more.  They expect real substance.  Conducting an exclusive survey is a great tool in this respect, but remember that B2B audiences are likely to be research savvy so settle for nothing less than a reliable, representative and solidly executed piece of work.  Likewise, be careful not to turn the outputs into an explicit sales pitch that a smart audience will see straight through

5. Rounded. The best thought leadership goes the extra mile in delivery. Each piece in the series contains not only exclusive survey findings, but other content which gives flavour and facilitates action. Ask yourself if the reader would value best practice guides. What about case studies? Would video or interactive content add another dimension?

6. Rooted. To become known as the ‘go to place’ on a subject, you need to give people somewhere to go. Develop a separate brand for your thought leadership programme and a micro-site to call home

7. Re-used. You’ve invested a lot of effort in producing highly valuable content. To ensure as high a return as possible it needs to be packaged in a way that appeals to diverse consumption preferences. Publish reports, create video, produce infographics, develop sales tool-kits, run seminars…quite simply, milk the content dry

Read Case Study


Vodafone had noticed a critical change in the mind-set of their business customers.  Telecommunications were no longer being viewed simply as a ‘utility’, but as a strategic business consideration.  This had two important implications. One, business customers wanted to work with a supplier who understood the business environment and their strategy. And two, rather than just talk to ‘technology’ roles about providing communications, Vodafone needed to talk to ‘business’ roles about their challenges

Creating a research-led thought leadership programme was the perfect response to this situation.  High value content could not only raise brand visibility and create opportunities for one-on-one sales discussions, it could do so in a way which firmly positioned Vodafone as a partner who understood the world of work.

Recognising this, Vodafone engaged long-term partners Circle Research and Geometry to help create the Perspective series.  Two years in and the programme has won several awards and delivered an ROI in excess of 8,000%.

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