By John Hall published May 11, 2015

How to Build a Knowledge Bank to Fuel Your Content Marketing Strategy

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Many companies think they need to shield their knowledge from the outside world to stay competitive, and they’ll only exchange intel with paying customers. But business – and the relationships that drive it – doesn’t work this way anymore.

Sixty percent of people are inspired to seek a product after reading about it, and if you want to win these sales, you need to let your audience in on a few secrets.

Your company has a wealth of internal knowledge that can be used to create content that will help humanize your brand and guide prospects through the buyer’s journey. To leverage these insights for creative content, you need to extract, store, and manage your knowledge efficiently.

Using a company knowledge bank can help streamline this process and give you access to company insights that will knock down potential sales barriers and get prospects on your side.

Tap into company’s knowledge store

The first step is to create a knowledge bank to house information about every aspect of your company, from your founding story to the most common customer gripes. This knowledge can – and should – inform your content marketing strategy and serve as an ever-growing resource for your marketing and sales teams.

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To deposit all the valuable knowledge that your company holds, here are a few key areas that every knowledge bank should include:

  • Internal knowledge: This includes key events in your company’s timeline, how it’s run on a day-to-day basis, and what it offers. It also covers internal information on product development, successful morale-boosting events, your competitive advantage, and every aspect of your company’s culture.
  • Industry knowledge: Trends and industry news fall under this category. Your CEO might have insights into how your market is shifting or how mobile technology will impact your field. For example, I recently wrote about Taboola’s $117 million funding round and what it meant for the content marketing industry. Sharing rich industry analysis will help your company become a useful and authoritative resource.
  • Data and opinions: These are complementary types of knowledge. Your company might collect thousands of insightful data points, but they won’t mean much without context. Any opinion pieces you publish should be based on data, and introduce or expand upon your ideas. For example, our publication team surveyed 153 publication editors, and we use the results to back up our advice on being published.

To make your knowledge bank worthwhile, it has to be organized and available to every employee who can put the information to good use. How you store and access the information will largely depend on your business’ culture and needs.

At Influence & Co., we use a custom software program to upload and organize our growing database of customer and internal knowledge. We gather this internal knowledge by regularly sending questions to key employees to receive their stream-of-consciousness thoughts, then inputting their responses into our portal based on the knowledge category – pain point, goal, or topic.

No two knowledge banks are the same, and that’s fine. You just need an organized and sustainable system for housing your data. This doesn’t have to be something that’s married to your CRM – you can use Google Drive, Dropbox, or other accessible collaborative external drives to assemble customized folders for each area or thought leader. Because knowledge banks can be used by your recruiting, PR, social media, and training teams, it sometimes makes more sense to keep your knowledge bank separate from your CRM.

Put the bank to work

Once you build your knowledge bank, you have a resource library that your marketing and sales teams can use. A knowledge bank can be strategically aligned with a content or editorial calendar. You can feed the knowledge bank in anticipation of the topics being addressed on the content calendar.

You should have a clear grasp of what your leadership deems insider knowledge and what’s not available for public release. However, strive to limit the amount of knowledge that’s for internal use only and tag the restricted information so the public information is easily accessed.

To make the most of your knowledge bank, here are four best practices to consider:

  1. Determine your specialty.

If I only wrote about general content marketing topics, I’d be one of hundreds of people spouting fairly unoriginal ideas about the industry. Instead, I drill down on areas in which my company excels – knowledge extraction and management.

  1. Store relevant research and insights.

Your knowledge bank should include previously published articles, timely research, and any ideas that come to mind. Don’t forget to include items about which you’re passionate or personal experiences that perfectly illustrate a particular hardship or example. Readers can feel passion in writing, and if you don’t marry your expertise to your passion, it won’t come off as authentic. Keeping these thoughts organized and accessible will save time when you sit down to write later.

  1. Empower your sales team.

Sales team leaders can be granted access to the knowledge bank to arm their salespeople with the content they need to educate and convert sales. Store information about client success stories, common pain points, and time-tested responses for overcoming objections. This is all good ammunition for your sales team members who will appreciate access to proven responses that resonate with prospects. With that knowledge, your sales team can close more sales.

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  1. Always update.

Your knowledge bank is never complete. Although it’s important to gather as much information about your prospects as possible when you create the bank, you should revisit the files often to make sure the information is still accurate and timely. The more you know about your customers, the more your content will be able to speak to them.

Taking the time to store information that your marketers, salespeople, and customers can use will make building relationships much easier. You’ll keep everyone in your organization on the same page about your mission, your customers, and how you operate. At the same time, you’ll be establishing a go-to strategy for educating customers and showcasing your brand. This way, your brand message will strike a chord with prospects – no matter who communicates it.

Expand your own knowledge bank at Content Marketing World 2015 with the dozens of experts sharing their insights, tips, and tools. Use CMI100 to save $100 on registration.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: John Hall

John Hall is the CEO and co-founder of Influence & Co., which helps companies’ position key individuals as industry influencers and thought leaders. Influence & Co. focuses on creating high-quality content that helps clients reach their target audiences online. Clients range from startups and fast-growing companies on the Inc. 500 to Fortune 500 companies.

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  • Chelsei Henderson

    I’ve been considering something just like this for my team. Although, it’s a bit of a different twist than you’re mentioning here. I’ll share, on the off-chance it can help someone else in a similar situation.

    I run a group of writers that assist me with client projects. We write in-depth, well-research articles on topics ranging from Internet Marketing to manufacturing to skin care. As the people reading this know, great articles include in-depth research, quotes, statistics, screenshots and graphics.

    A lot of writers still don’t understand the major shift the industry has taken. They’re used to writing for search engines instead of deep posts for humans.

    Having a “knowledge bank” of sorts would help me immensely as I train the writers on how to craft these types of posts. And it would even help me, as I research new posts for clients. A bank of knowledge could include the research, quotes, statistics, screenshots and graphics that I come across throughout my week. Then the entire team could use it to supplement the other research they’ve done.

    Thanks John! You’ve definitely got my brain crunching ideas on this one!

    • John Hall

      Thanks for the comment Chelsei! I agree that it would be very helpful. It will also save your team time so that they have a central place to find this info. You might also have a writer find something in their own research and add it to the knowledge bank. The result will be gathering more information that you/others can use in future articles.

  • http://4ubrand.blogspot.com/ Frank Gainaford

    Chelsei Henderson this issue is an awful lot bigger than you hint at. This is an issue linked to CORPORATE mentality, where information is stored within COMPANY SILOS. each department has its own set of company data bases that contain pertinent data sets, but this info is kept secret, and only made available to individuals within that specific company department.

    this storing of information in separate company SILOS makes Good old fashioned off line marketing quite difficult, but has a much larger impact on the other areas where SEO is more visible.

    Most people do not consider the fact that SEO or Search Engine Optimisation has three basic focal areas that need to work as a team to generate good well rounded SERP’s (Search Engine Results Page)

    these three focal area of Search Engine Optimisation are
    1) IPSEO or Inpage search engine Optimisation
    2) OPSEO or Off Page Search Engine Optimisation
    3) OLSEO or Off Line Search Engine Optimisation

    OPSEO and IPSEO are very well understood and implemented within most marketing efforts, how ever OLSEO or Off Line Search Engine Optimisation is poorly understood, and badly implemented by nearly every SEOP (Search Engine Optimisation Practitioners)

    Off Line Search Engine Optimisation is the art of planting Semantic Seeds within the thinking patterns and thought processes of your intended target market which you must germinate and nuture to ensure that your intended target market uses the correct terminology and word phrases within their search queries to generate GOLDEN SEARCHES

    GOLDEN SEARCHES are those search queries where your online content is displayed at the top of the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) with a well matched search snippet that induces a click through from your intended target market.

    Search snippets are a very compicated business and are mostly machine generated to match the search query, using available in page SEO data, so this needs to be properly understood by all involved, and the physiologic connotations need to be properly nderstaood and managed in a holistic manner when crafting in page meta data markup, which can only be achieved when all marketing divisions co-operate and work as a well oiled machine. this includes off line marketing, online marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, search engine marketing, new paper marketing, radio marketing and any other unmentioned marketing channel.

    your knowledge bank needs to be shared across all departments and have input from every department for this thinking to filter through and be successful

    • John Hall

      Hey Frank, thanks for the comment. I appreciate you taking the time to write such a detailed content. I agree with you about your point about SILOS. I just spoke at Content Management Strategies and it’s unbelievable how these SILOS can completely create decrease efficiency. You point this out at the end, but that’s why it’s so vital to share this across departments. There’s experts on the site that know a bit more about the SEO side of things so I’ll let them weigh in on that point.

  • Jade Booth

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  • John Hall

    Thanks for the comment. I’ll check out your blog.

    • http://4ubrand.blogspot.com/ Frank Gainaford

      Many thanx, and comment will really be appreciated. My comment stream is shared to Google plus, and If you could share the comment publicly so that others may discover your comment on my blog I will be very pleased.

      So many folks do not share stuff within their social media publicly, which is a pity, because ant public share adds to your semantic footprint in many ways.

      enjoy the rest of the week,