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Managing your knowledge for maximum value

- Joanne Casey
In today's data soaked and hyper-connected world, the answer to almost any question can be found via your favourite search engine (what did we do before Google?) This access to information is changing the way we market services and how clients buy.  

According to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) 57% of B2B clients have begun researching their purchase and started the decision-making process online - before contacting a supplier or vendor! 

Using content marketing 

B2B businesses have been using thought leadership (or 'content marketing' as its becoming known) in their marketing and business development activities for some time.  White papers, special reports, email updates, newsletters and seminars are a great way to showcase your expertise and add value for clients and prospects.  It is becoming increasingly clear that if you are not, then your competitors certainly will be. 

The Content Marketing Institute's recent Content Marketing in Australia: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report found that 81% of Australian companies are producing more content than they did a year ago.  Which shouldn't be surprising when you consider B2B firms deal in knowledge - it is a key asset and often the 'product' that drives revenue.

It should be relatively easy then to simply package this knowledge, tailor it to specific needs or questions from your clients and send it out into the world to delight and amaze (while sitting back and waiting for the new referrals to flood in)!

As anyone who has ever had to produce a piece of 'thought leadership' knows - it's not that simple! Quality content of any type takes time and effort to produce and then more time and effort to distribute.  This time and effort needs to be squeezed in around client requirements and the demands that come from running a business. 

This doesn't need to be a time consuming or difficult process though.  It is all about working efficiently and getting the most value possible from the resources you have available to you. 

stop re-inventing the wheel

B2B businesses create knowledge every day as they deliver their services to clients.  This knowledge is an asset that is kept in the minds, inboxes and hard drives of every person working in the business.  Finding efficient ways to capture this knowledge and storing it in a centralised, accessible format is a key challenge that, if overcome, can provide a real competitive advantage.

Developing a strong knowledge management platform that captures knowledge as it is created (in all parts of the business); analyses it for other uses and ways to extract value and makes it accessible to all parts of the organisation (in a timely manner) will allow anyone to have quick and ready access to the most up to date information on a particular topic.  This allows for efficiencies in servicing clients, and allow the time and effort you invest in creating content for your marketing  activities to be focussed on providing insights and adding value, rather than creating each piece of content from scratch.  

To truly deliver value, a knowledge management platform must touch all parts of the business and be supported by three foundation elements:

  • Knowledge Sharing Culture:  A knowledge sharing culture that embraces innovation, encourages collaboration and fosters relationships is essential.  To encourage knowledge sharing behaviours the platform must easily be able to report on how these behaviours are returning value to the business.   Wins should be celebrated and those of your team who exhibit and champion these behaviours held up as role models.

  • Reporting (tools & processes):  To demonstrate the value your knowledge sharing culture is providing, it is important the tools used to create knowledge are collecting the right information to measure and deliver that value.  Tools alone are not enough.  They need to be supported by a range of processes that create insights and move knowledge around the business in a timely manner.  Ensuring the right people, get the right information at the right time to maximise its impact.  These tools and processes need to integrate with current workflows to encourage adoption.

  • Centralised, Accessible Knowledge Hub:  Once captured and analysed it is important that those who need this knowledge can find it and use it.  A central hub that is accessible across the firm; provides accurate information in a timely manner and is in a format that is useful increases efficiency and enables high levels of service delivery to clients. 

The result is a more efficient team that is able to make informed decisions, react quickly to changing priorities and provide efficient, high level service to clients, fostering stronger relationships that deliver value back to the business.

In my experience - so much time is often wasted in drafting items from scratch.  It is not unusual to spend time drafting a client newsletter or update, only to find out later that valuable, useful knowledge existed in another part of the firm!  What do you think? Do you spend too much time re-creating the wheel in your firm?

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