A common way of communicating business process knowledge within a company is connecting the employee with structured training and procedural documents through learning management systems, or enterprise resource planning software which usually include document management or quality management systems that incorporate procedural training. Other collaborative software platforms like Microsoft SharePoint enable Wiki posts which operate in social media style across the enterprise internal network to allow knowledge to be communicated throughout the organization.
I am beginning to wonder if the emergence of inbound marketing content (blogs, white papers, case studies, eBooks, etc.) is also becoming a resource for developing employee knowledge of a company's products, services and solutions. Does the creation and delivery of inbound content represent another value proposition for investing in inbound marketing? If yes, inbound marketing content development creates an affordable knowledge management tool that can be used by any small business without the cost of a large enterprise system to educate and inform its workforce about company products.
Knowledge management (KM), according to Wikipedia comprises a range of strategies and practices used in an organization to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organizations as processes or practices.
One of the core differences between conventional knowledge management delivery of static procedural content (reviewed and updated annually) is the dynamic real-time nature of a customer centric content developed for inbound marketing purposes. And if the role of every employee is to serve the customer, the more the employee knows about how the company is serving the market, the better informed they will be.
For example, a standard operating procedure (SOP) is frequently developed by a subject matter expert, and refined for the intended audience, usually in the form of a recipe, an orchestrated series of process steps to execute a task. Whereas a blog, e-book or white paper is developed to discuss processes, services, products, strategies, business solutions, etc., the way they operate of behave today. Inbound content can also communicate another perspective not often allowed within a procedure including the pro/con perspective or things not to do. Typically the SOP is focused on process and the inbound content is focused on idea exchange to help optimize a process. Inbound content development also benefits from the idea that the collective knowledge of the workforce is evolving all the time.
For employees, content developed for inbound marketing can be used as self-service skill development. It is the recognition that inbound marketing content is a company asset that should be shared within the organization. Building a knowledgeable workforce, based on content that is based on what is happening in the market in real-time creates a big competitive advantage. It also teaches employees how to talk about the business through the lens of the customer/prospect.
There are a few challenges using inbound marketing content as a vehicle for employee skill development:
- The content will get dated, aging the information. As companies evolve so do their products, services and solutions presented to the market through the inbound content. For this content to be useful as a company’s knowledge management resource, it needs to evolve with the company’s strategies.
- Blogs, white papers, e-books are easy ways to capture and reuse knowledge but lack the structure for process integration and performance assessment. One should not oversell the significance of this medium as a replacement for traditional skill development and assessment employing SOPs knowledge and the associated delivery systems to institutionalize business processes and employee learning.
- The content may be unstructured (from a learning management perspective) and may not always be searchable to find relevancy when and where you need it.
- How this knowledge moves through the (internal) company system may not be well controlled or reviewed for accuracy as effectively as is required for a Standard Operating Procedure.
There are steps that can be taken to enhance inbound marketing content delivery for knowledge management.
- Employ a keyword Google like search utility on the blog webpage to allow readers to search key words, and allow searching by the keywords indexed for that blog.
- Introduce an exam utility (for internal use), which allows the employee to demonstrate competency in the subject, and integrate the exam results with the company’s learning management or training record system.
- Allow (internal) inbound marketing subscribers to be notified based on appearance of key words in newly published content.
Inbound marketing content is not just a way to drive traffic to the website and engage clients or prospects. It can also serve as an affordable knowledge management tool to supplement the company’s learning management system to enhance employee education of how the market and customer is served.
Knowledge management,content management,inbound marketing benefit,training management,inbound marketing content
Inbound marketing content can work as a knowledge management tool for employee education.