The Great B2B Fintech Thought Leadership Deficit

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  • B2B decision-makers say thought leadership influences what they think about your business and their purchasing choices.
  • A study linked high-quality thought leadership to an increase in requests for proposals.
  • High-quality thought leadership is often substantial, timely, and well-distributed.

B2B fintech startups raised more than $910 million in combined funding as of January 2021, a sign of rising competition.

The boom in B2B fintech is likely to make it harder to stand out and gain new clients that are needed to scale. 

How your B2B fintech thinks — and how you communicate how you think differently than competitors is now just as important as the products and services you develop. 

With thought leadership content, B2B fintech companies can boost their reputation in the industry, gain potential clients, and attract the right kind of capital. 

Only 11 percent of financial services companies believe their thought leadership is extremely effective

What Your Buyers Think About Thought Leadership Content

Edelman Business Marketing and LinkedIn conducted a study, which shows how B2B decision-makers consume thought leadership content and how B2B companies can effectively publish thought leadership. The study found:

  • 89 percent said thought leadership enhances their perception of organizations
  • 49 percent said thought leadership influences their purchasing decisions
  • 59 percent saw thought leadership as a trustworthy basis for assessing an organization’s capabilities and competencies.

A separate 2020 study by Grist identified three reasons why executives consume thought leadership content. They do so:

  • To make better decisions (65 percent)
  • To evaluate your expertise (60 percent) 
  • To understand best practice (57 percent).

This data shows how useful thought leadership can be — when it’s done well. It also highlights the risks of doing it poorly. B2B fintech companies should invest only in thought leadership content that can meet the high bar set by knowledgeable buyers, partners, and investors.

An Edelman-LinkedIn study found only 15 percent of decision-makers rate the thought leadership they read as very good or excellent

Your B2B fintech company should avoid dipping your toes into thought leadership unless you can commit significant amounts of internal and expertise to produce your content. 

How Your Buyers Judge Your Thought Leadership Content

What exactly makes thought leadership content attractive to decision-makers?

The Edelman-LinkedIn study revealed that one of the factors that lead to successful thought leadership content is substantial points, those that:

  • Explain what industry decision-makers have overlooked
  • Explore potential challenges or new opportunities
  • Offer actionable competitive intelligence.

Timeliness and brevity matter too. About 87 percent of decision-makers value thought leadership that addresses a topic they’re currently working on or thinking about, while 75 percent find short and easy-to-absorb content very compelling.

Lastly, B2B decision-makers also value thought leadership content that is distributed effectively. Most of them reported consuming the content from researching a specific topic or coming across it in their daily routine, receiving it directly from someone else, or seeing the content on paid or earned channels.

This is why B2B fintech companies should treat production processes, content formats, and distribution with great care. 

The Thought Leadership Deficit in Financial Services

A 2020 study, Profiting From Thought Leadership, revealed only 11 percent of financial services companies believe their thought leadership is extremely effective. 

The best thought leadership is forged through experience. The study found the longer a company has been writing and publishing thought leadership content, the more likely it is to be better at it than other companies. The most effective thought leadership marketers have an average of 7.6 years of experience, which is more than 70 percent longer on average than the least effective thought leadership marketers.

Other traits of successful thought leadership producers are

  • Having all the resources you need to produce thought leadership
  • Allocating your thought leadership budget in proportion to the revenue contribution and growth potential of your products and services. 

In 2020, the average budget of companies that excel at thought leadership content was 6.5 percent of annual revenue. That covers research, marketing events, and editorial resources.

The study also revealed the most effective thought leadership marketers have a solid strategy. They align thought leadership spending with their overall service line spending, adjusted for the growth potential of other existing or new services. Even with an ample budget, thought leadership marketers still must consciously allocate their resources where they’re needed.

What Genuine Thought Leadership Can Do For Fintechs 

The differences between companies that produce high-quality thought leadership versus those that produce low-quality thought leadership are stark. The Edelman-LinkedIn study found producers of high-quality thought leadership can reap rewards. 

  • Companies that produce high-quality thought leadership content increase their brand recognition and reputation, expand perceptions of capabilities, and building trust. 
  • Great thought leadership allows businesses can lead to requests for proposals (RFPs), win business, enable cross-selling, and get the next sale more often than companies that produce low-quality content. 

The most effective marketers said thought leadership content gave them a price premium of almost 15 percent, according to the Profiting From Thought Leadership study. It pays to create high-quality thought leadership content, but it’s a difficult process. As the B2B fintech space continues to grow, companies will see increased competition. If you want to use thought leadership to stand out, you’ll need to excel at it.

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