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. Follow him on Twitter @johnhall.

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