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Thought leadership is crucial in establishing brand authority and influencing industry conversations. And, if you’ve already read our previous article on the benefits of thought leadership, you know exactly why.

Indeed, as businesses strive to distinguish themselves in competitive markets, the role of thought leadership becomes increasingly evident. From setting benchmarks for innovation to driving the strategic discourse and shaping market trends – these campaigns have the power to engage decision-makers and position companies at the forefront of their industries.

In this article, we’ll show you the best thought leadership campaigns to date. We’ll also delve into what makes them so good so you can learn from the best in the game.

But first, a quick recap…

What are thought leadership campaigns?

Thought leadership campaigns are pivotal to a successful content strategy, especially in B2B.

As you know, it goes beyond basic content creation – it’s about establishing a voice that commands respect and attention. It’s about authority and expertise. And, most of all, it’s about strategic positioning.

At the heart of thought leadership campaigns is insightful content that engages and resonates. This includes detailed white papers, dynamic blog posts, and interviews with industry leaders, all providing insights that foster meaningful dialogue. These elements work together to cement your brand’s status as a thought leader in your industry.

Before we dive into the best thought leadership campaigns, let’s briefly break down what makes these campaigns successful.

Key elements of successful campaigns

Success hinges on several elements that collectively enhance the impact of your message. Each of the elements discussed below plays a crucial role in defining your content’s authority, ensuring it resonates with its intended audience.

Innovative content:

Any successful thought leadership campaign requires an innovative approach to content creation which breaks traditional moulds to engage audiences deeply. Some of the most remarkable campaigns consist of:

  • Interactive webinars for real-time, in-depth exploration of topics with live feedback.
  • White papers that address complex industry issues with a robust analysis of (usually) proprietary data.
  • Immersive digital experiences like serialised video or podcast episodes that captivate audiences, leaving a lasting impression.

Data-driven insights through a human lens:

Integrating data into your thought leadership content is non-negotiable. However, our brand research for a fintech client aiming to position themselves as an industry leader has brought to light something rather revelatory.

Data analytics isn’t everything.

Indeed, while many brands dabble in data-backed thought leadership, those that bring to life “bigger picture” cultural perspectives through a unique point of view are the ones that manage to distinguish themselves.

  • Leverage unique cultural insights: Identify key cultural trends or shifts that resonate with your target audience and integrate these insights to add depth and a unique voice to your brand’s narrative.
  • Emphasise distinctive viewpoints: Differentiate your thought leadership by crafting a distinct standpoint that reflects not just data but also personal interpretations of it. Our research suggests that decision-makers want multiple outlooks from across value chains, alongside your brand’s point of view on the topic.

Engagement strategies:

Active engagement is crucial to amplifying the impact of your thought leadership content. To effectively engage your audience, consider:

  • Strategically using social media to amplify your content’s reach. Use analytics to refine strategies and increase interaction.
  • Organising roundtable discussions with other thought leaders and influencers. These discussions will enrich your content and build a community around shared interests and continuous innovation. These sessions should allow participants to contribute, learn, and share openly.

By implementing these, you’ll ensure your content resonates, driving engagement and establishing your brand’s authority. So, it’s no coincidence that the campaigns we explore in the next section all implement some of these aspects.

Best B2B thought leadership content

Now, let’s analyse some of the most innovative examples of thought leadership. We’ll break them down into actionable steps to examine what exactly made them tick. Read until the end for a practical list of best practices you can implement in your strategy to enhance your brand positioning, educate potential customers, and drive engagement.

Verizon places reports at the heart of its campaign

Verizon Business launched an extensive thought leadership campaign to promote Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), a cloud-based solution that streamlines network access to enhance cybersecurity.

Through an all-around strategy containing thought leadership pieces, Verizon strategically positioned SASE as more than a product. SASE became an essential component of modern enterprise infrastructure.

Campaign elements:

  • Research and reports library: The heart of the campaign, this resource hub is hosted on the SASE landing page and is filled with detailed information about the functionalities and benefits of SASE. It aims to educate potential customers about its crucial role in safeguarding against evolving cyber threats and improving business agility.
  • Targeted advertising: We’re confident in asserting that the resource library is the heart of the campaign because Verizon also deployed targeted ads on LinkedIn to reach decision-makers and industry leaders. The content of the ads? Their SASE reports. The adverts highlighted key insights, such as the potential of SASE to enable Zero-Trust Networking, improve business agility, and reduce operational costs.


Verizon's SASE landing page featuring a thought leadership library

Verizon’s thought leadership library takes the visitor down the funnel towards conversion through a landing page requiring key first-party information.

Strategic execution:

  • Content strategy: By partnering with S&P Global Market Intelligence, Verizon ensured that the reports are relevant and resonate with the needs and challenges of modern enterprises. Backed by robust data and presented in an accessible format, these reports are both authoritative and educational.
  • Engagement tactics: The campaign engages users through a mix of written and visual content. This approach helps in illustrating complex technical concepts in a more digestible manner, increasing the time spent on the site and improving accessibility.
  • Personalised experience: To access these valuable reports, potential customers were directed to a landing page that required them to input key personal details. If you’ve read our previous article on first-party data, you’ll know that this step is pivotal in lead gen, as it enables Verizon to tailor future comms and offerings based on this information.


Verizon's LinkedIn ad for SASE

Verizon’s targeted LinkedIn ad pushing the SASE report. 

Outcome and impact

The strategic use of a content library, coupled with targeted advertising and a data-driven approach to customer engagement, not only enhanced Verizon’s reputation as an innovator in cybersecurity solutions but also drove significant impact, with ads that reached 200.000 prospects.

Rackspace leverages strategic partnerships for innovative insights

Rackspace Technology has recently organised the Solve IT Outlook Summit to disseminate insights from global IT leaders on forthcoming trends and challenges. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to bolster their position in cloud infrastructure and managed services space, leveraging a comprehensive media hub with diverse content formats — videos, podcasts, and written pieces.

Campaign elements:

  • Summit and media hub: The summit is the campaign’s focal point, with discussions and expert panels distilled into a report, which is available on a dedicated landing page. This page features the summit video, highlights key findings, and offers the report for download as a PDF.
  • Multimedia content delivery: Utilising various content formats, Rackspace enhances the accessibility and engagement of their insights, catering to different audience preferences.
  • Targeted LinkedIn advertising: The campaign extended to LinkedIn with various ad formats. A set of ads promoted report downloads, while another contained an image carousel visually showcasing summit findings. These ads strategically targeted IT decision-makers and aligned with Rackspace’s brand aesthetics.


Rackspace's thought leadership hub called Solve

Rackspace has a thought leadership hub called Solve, which contains a variety of content formats, from video and podcasts to reports and white papers.

Strategic execution:

  • Integrated content strategy: The campaign employed an integrated content approach, linking videos, podcasts, and written reports to provide a holistic view of the summit’s insights.
  • Dynamic visual engagement: Engaging visuals on the landing page and in ads made complex information accessible and memorable, particularly through the image carousel ads.
  • Strategic partnerships: The summit was organised in partnership with Dell and VMWare, two giants in the IT space. Collaborating with industry leaders helped enrich the insights shared at the summit while expanding Rackspace’s network, opening doors for future cooperation.

Rackspace's report landing page visually displaying the key findings through a dynamic scroll
The landing page visually displays the report’s key findings through a dynamic scroll.

Outcome and impact

Rackspace’s campaign exemplified how integrated thought leadership can extend a brand’s influence in the tech industry. By merging thorough research, varied content forms, and targeted digital marketing, Rackspace cemented its status as a leader in tech innovation.

Given this holistic approach to content strategy, it’s perhaps not surprising that Rackspace ranks second in our latest Elevate Top 50 for Cloud Infrastructure & Managed Services.

Microsoft looks at tech through a human lens

Microsoft’s Cloud Cultures series is a pioneering thought leadership campaign that delves into how different cultures interact with and are influenced by cloud technology, particularly focusing on Microsoft Azure. The campaign sits at the intersection of human and tech, illustrating how digitalisation impacts societal and business practices across various regions.

Campaign elements

  • Episodic video series: The campaign consists of high-quality videos, released in a serial format, featuring Corey Sanders, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Cloud for Industry, as he travels to eight different countries. These episodes, which resemble travel diaries, follow Sanders engaging with local professionals across various industries. They discuss the implementation of Microsoft Azure and how local cultural contexts have shaped its use. The episodes blend professional discussions with relaxed interactions, showcasing striking landscapes, hip urban scenes and other culturally significant backdrops.
  • Multimedia content hub: The Cloud Cultures page acts as a central hub for the campaign, hosting all episodes. Each episode is given a dedicated page that not only streams the video but also provides extensive textual content on the showcased case studies or use cases.


Microsoft's Cloud Cultures landing page
Microsoft’s all-encompassing Cloud Cultures landing page

Strategic execution

  • Serialised content strategy: The serialised content approach sees each episode’s page featuring an “Upcoming” section that teases the next episode. This format maintains audience anticipation for future content. Additionally, a “Related articles” section encourages a rich content experience, increasing user engagement and dwell time. To expand reach outside Microsoft’s core audience, all videos were uploaded on YouTube, where they feel right at home among other travel content.
  • Targeted advertising and localisation: Microsoft strategically uses targeted advertising on LinkedIn, customising promotions to resonate with specific cultural markets. For instance, ads for the Poland episode were specifically written in Polish and targeted at a Polish audience, enhancing its relevance and effectiveness.
  • Human element: Central to the Cloud Cultures series is the human element which brings to life the tangible impacts of tech through the stories of individuals using Microsoft Azure in their daily professional and personal lives. This human-centric approach makes Microsoft relatable and deepens viewer engagement with the content.


Microsoft’s LinkedIn ad for Cloud Cultures.

Microsoft’s ad for the Poland episode of its Cloud Cultures series is aimed at a Polish audience.

Impact and outcomes

The Cloud Cultures series achieved significant reach and engagement, utilising platforms like YouTube and LinkedIn for distribution and promotion. This strategy broadened the campaign’s audience, captivating viewers with its compelling narrative and visually stunning content.

Additionally, by tailoring ads to reflect local languages, Microsoft successfully engaged diverse global audiences, demonstrating a deep understanding of and sensitivity to cultural nuances. This strategic approach enhanced Microsoft’s global brand perception, setting a benchmark for international tech campaigns.

Despite the substantial budget which must have fuelled the campaign’s high production and broad scope, the focus on humanising technology serves as a scalable model that smaller businesses can adapt to enhance their own brand relevance and appeal.

Overview: best practices

Looking at these three case studies, here’s a list of best practices you can also implement in your campaign:

  • Tailored and informative content: Establishing a robust resource library that educates and engages targeted audiences effectively.
  • Precise market targeting: Supplementing with targeted advertising to reach decision-makers and industry leaders, enhancing brand visibility and engagement.
  • Multimedia content delivery: Incorporating a variety of content formats such as videos, podcasts, and written pieces to cater to diverse audience preferences and increase accessibility.
  • Strategic partnerships: Collaborating with industry giants to enrich content and expand network opportunities, leveraging shared expertise.
  • Human-centred storytelling: Focusing on the human aspect of technology to make content more relatable and engaging, thereby deepening viewer connection.

These practices underscore the importance of a well-rounded and strategically diverse approach to thought leadership, essential for achieving lasting impact in competitive markets.

This being said, the most effective strategies are the ones that keep an eye on the future. So, keeping informed on upcoming trends is pivotal in staying ahead of the curve.

Future trends in thought leadership

As we advance, thought leadership is poised to evolve significantly, reflecting ongoing changes in technology, societal expectations, and business norms. We believe these emerging trends are likely to shape the future of this type of content:

  • AI for personalised content delivery: AI is already transforming how content is curated and delivered. By analysing large datasets about audience preferences and behaviours, AI enables you to tailor materials that resonate on a personal level with each segment of your audience. Moreover, AI-driven analytics will help thought leaders predict trends, allowing them to address topics that are on the verge of gaining prominence.
  • Greater emphasis on sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR): As global concerns about environmental issues and social inequality continue to grow, businesses are expected to take stronger stands on CSR and sustainability. Thought leaders will likely craft content that showcases how integrating sustainable practices and social responsibility can drive long-term business benefits. This shift will require thought leaders to present evidence-based outcomes of sustainable practices, potentially influencing industry standards and consumer expectations.
  • Increased use of multimedia formats: The digital era has ushered in a plethora of multimedia tools that thought leaders can utilise to craft more engaging and immersive content. From interactive infographics and videos to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences, these technologies offer new ways to present complex data and abstract concepts in digestible and engaging formats. For instance, VR could be used to simulate the impact of climate change or demonstrate the effectiveness of new technologies in real-world scenarios, providing a more profound understanding and a stronger emotional connection to the content.

The future of thought leadership will see a more sophisticated use of emerging technologies to inspire action that drives change. As these trends gain momentum, they will likely set new standards for how thought leadership is practised across industries.

…and if you want to keep track of future trends in brand, marketing and digital, consider subscribing to our monthly newsletter via the big yellow subscription box on the right. 

In conclusion

The transformative power of well-executed thought leadership campaigns cannot be overstated. For companies looking to establish or cement their market position, investing in thought leadership is not just beneficial; it’s essential. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, so too should the strategies we use to influence and engage.

Not sure where to start?

At Dusted, we specialise in delivering content strategy solutions for ambitious clients across a range of B2B sectors. Reach out to us and let’s explore what options meet your specific organisational needs.

Your journey to strategic thought leadership awaits – so get in touch now to book a call! We can’t wait to hear from you.