In this episode, me, Anders and Stellan discuss knowledge content - the type of content that shows off the expertise within your company and convinces your customers and potential customers that you're a trustworthy partner.
Most companies have understood the necessity of brand content, editorial content, commercial content and educational content. Even companies that don't have content creators in their marketing teams all generally have these kinds of content in place, which typically take the form of brand stories, news articles, product and solution information and instruction manuals.
However, creating good knowledge content is a tougher nut to crack. The main purpose of knowledge content is to build trust and convince the person consuming that content that the company is competent, trustworthy and knowledgeable.
The knowledge of products and solutions that is required to create knowledge content exists in every company, but extracting and presenting it in an attractive way is difficult — but if you're a B2B company, it's essential to try. Have a listen to this episode and hear Anders and Stellan discuss the value of knowledge content, common mistakes companies make with their content, and how much time you need to be devoting to knowledge content creation if you want to win.
Anders Björklund: [00:00:00] Hi, I'm Alex!
Alexander Evjenth: [00:00:02] ...and on today's episode, we have Anders and Stellan, how are you, Stellan?
Stellan Björnesjö: [00:00:09] Hi there! I am fantastic, as always, and you Alex?
AE: [00:00:13] I'm good, I'm good, and you Anders?
AB: [00:00:17] I'm very well.
AE: [00:00:19] So today we're going to talk about content, and specifically knowledge content. I work as a content creator here at Zooma, and when I say I'm a content creator, some friends and family don't really know what I work with because there are so many different things that you can work with content. And at Zooma, we help customers build knowledge portals and learn sections, so, Anders, I would like you to define what what kind of content we work with at Zooma and why?
AB: [00:00:57] As always, I'll try not to answer your question. I'll phrase it like this. In a world where everyone has claimed for more than 20 years that content is king and context is king and blah, blah, blah, everything should always be king. When you talk about what you think is something new, I'd like to start in the direction of relevance routes. Whether you're in a hurry or you want to get something with speed or for joy or pleasure or entertainment, relevance is very important. And many years ago we started discussing content on most B2B companies and we found brand guides and we found brand strategies. And we found a lot of nice things that are similar in every company and about the same words with passion, professional and so on.
But when you were about to do product information or when you were about to do, this is an article based on insights, this is a video where you claim knowledge or thought leadership, etcetera, then it started to get a bit blurry in those guides and policies and guidelines and everything else discussion where we said, is there a difference between content, commercial content, editorial content, educational content? And by the way, shouldn't there be something that should be classified as knowledge content? That's a good spin on a very simple question, isn't it, Alexander? And in our world, knowledge content has very, very high relevance in most so-called decision journeys and buyer journeys, whatever it's called, because it's based on that someone has a challenge, a problem or need, and it contains of relevant insights, answers, guidance, and it might be guidance on why, how and what.
And it must be aligned with that and apply to meet customers' challenges, problems and needs. So what we did was to start experimenting with the differences between the sort of five different types of content mentioned.
AE: [00:03:31] And Stellan, what's your input on these five types of content?
SB: [00:03:36] A simple difference or how we can identify it is that knowledge content is much more geared towards these questions that you have early on in the customer journey. And historically, most companies have been pretty bad at providing that sort of insights, as well as sort of spinning around in the beginning there as well, with many companies, to talk about thought leadership. And that was sort of in a very academic level for most, whereas knowledge content is more hands-on, more practical, something you can use. So it goes down to the sort of classic example almost, of when you're trying to, you know, put a hanger on your wall. Are you looking for a drill or are you looking for a hole?
And most companies have been really good at describing the drill and providing all sorts of documents and videos and everything about the drill, but not so much about how you create the perfect hole in the wall. And that's where, really, knowledge content comes in and complements all your other types of content, that sort of amplifies and improves how you win online in today's environments where most people professionally and privately start online.
AB: [00:04:57] And at the same time, I would say, Stellen, that 'practical' doesn't mean sort of how to drill or make the hole, because most of the decision-makers that we meet or many of them can look for the perfect strategy. And then that's the very, very practical thing for them. They are very aware of the whys. But how should I digitalise or how should I be more sort of, excuse the expression, 'modern' in our sales work or commercial work? And what should we do then? Then it, again with knowledge content is, it needs to be a credible author who seems to be an expert or perceived as an expert. And then I don't mean that you should fool them, but you need if you check that expert's LinkedIn background, does he seem credible when I compare to the challenges that I have? Who is this person connected to? And so forth, because it doesn't have to be practical, like how to service something, it can be very, very practical from a strategic perspective.
And I have to say, I hope they're all gone now, but so many B2B companies were running around talking about thought leadership. I'm certain you will make us come back to knowledge content, Alexander, but that can sort of be our personal Jesus in thoughts. If I look around online and look at the people who pretend to be thought leaders, not that many impress me, but when I look for people who may be unaware that they are knowledge leaders, they are very, very useful to listen to. They have very understandable how and whats, while when everyone was, everyone, I shouldn't say that, but lots of people were trying to be sort of guiding us in our thoughts, very few, at least from my perspective. I don't know from your perspective, Stellan and Alexander, how often you get impressed by people's visions about the future? I don't know. What do you say?
SB: [00:07:22] I say that I'm impressed only when people also manage to sort of live by that vision, and sort of be on an obvious path towards that vision, because otherwise you have lots of companies to just try to sort of, well, today it's a popular thing, so to speak, to talk about greenwashing, which is sort of the same thing. When it comes to sustainability and environmental questions, you talk a lot, but you do absolutely nothing, and then it's not credible. So someone like Elon Musk doesn't pretend to be a thought leader, but his knowledge and his vision for the future is exactly the direction in which he's leading his many companies.
AB: [00:08:07] I fully agree, and I think it's interesting with how few that can differ PR and what you describe, it's very easy that you fall into the trap that right now people want us to be like this, so we better say that this and this is important. That's most likely a third discussion, Alexander, sorry. Sorry for spinning away from our knowledge content, but maybe you can make it.
AE: [00:08:42] Yeah, it's an interesting conversation. You both mentioned knowledge leadership and thought leadership, and knowledge content, producing knowledge content. The real objective there is to create employees to become knowledge leaders in their industry, and Anders, why do we do that? Why is it important to become a trusted knowledge person?
AB: [00:09:16] I mean, some would say an obvious answer, but I think our answer at least is that we know that there are a lot of organisations, companies, individuals, teams that want help with how and what. And then you might say the fact that you could say, "oh, let's let's provide some stuff so that they buy from us." I do not think I do not believe that that is how relations work. I think it's important from an internal perspective to feel that you whether you are a specialist or a generalist-specialist, it gives you confidence that you provide things that you know more and more of. It's from an internal perspective, important that you are there to provide what you know. But if we look from the true perspective, the external perspective - "ah, very good, I found what I needed and what I was looking for. Hmmm, good idea, ah, good template," or whatever it is - they don't have to buy from us. They don't have to hit the 'send an offer', 'get a quote', 'book a meeting'.
Relations are long-term. If you help someone that you don't know, the implication of that is that it might be a higher possibility that they return to you for guidance or help. But it's a long-term thing. If you try to do knowledge content short-term, 'hit the button,' 'Call them blah, blah, blah,' I don't believe in it. Then it's PR or bullshit.
AE: [00:11:08] I know you both meet with management teams in larger B2B businesses. And how is this idea perceived by them? What do they, what challenges do you think, Stellan, prevents companies to actually create knowledge content?
SB: [00:11:29] A couple of years ago, it used to be: "Well, if we bring our skilled and knowledgeable people who develop our products and deliver services and so on, and if we bring them online, our competitors will poach them." That was a very common thing. So we have to you know, we could do it, but we have to present it as it sort of from the brand. We can't bill this person as a skilled and knowledgeable person. That has changed, because it's been proven that you need to be personal and individual and verifiable and everything in order to reach maximum potential with your knowledge content.
So now it's much more about understanding that knowledge content is how you get a seat at the table. So when the sales process has moved to being primarily online, both in B2B and in B2C, you have to be discoverable. And so if the only sort of exception might be, if you have the highest brand awareness ever, then you might be able to ride the wave of that for a while more. But for everyone else, if you're not on the top 1 or 2 list, you won't get the question unless you have, you position yourself with knowledge content so that someone can find you and build trust in you that you can also deliver. So I think that's where the sort of educational challenge is to more explain the principles of why it's important to do it. And the past year, I think, has sort of helped in that many more organisations now understand that they have to do this, and especially with all the canceled physical events and so on, that it's online where you need to have a presence. And that knowledge content is a key component in the customer journey.
AE: [00:13:40] Do you agree Anders?
AB: [00:13:41] Yes, I agree. And I was sitting thinking while Stellan was speaking, that decision-makers love figures. So if there is one decision-maker in any company listening right now, I'll give you something to think about if you want your company to be relevant, that you sort of get trusted long-term by providing knowledge content for your prospective or potential or existing customers and existing customers. How many percent of the man-hours that you spend on this today do you need to do tomorrow?
And I'll give you a figure, whatever type of B2B company you are, seven percent of your staff's man-hours need to be spent on providing knowledge content for your potential and existing customers. And that I say well-aware that in most of the companies that I'm thinking about, very few have more than one percent in marketing, communication, budget. And now, I'll tell you that if you want to succeed in this, seven percent of all man-hours spent internally need to be spent on knowledge content. If you get interested, send me an email and I'll explain it to you, very easy mathematics. Seven percent and you win, less, less chance that you win and become relevant.
AE: [00:15:13] Great. I think that's a great summary of this episode.
AB: [00:15:19] You've never heard that one before Stellan, right?
SB: [00:15:21] Not the seven percent, that was new for me, so I have to go back and check!
AB: [00:15:26] A lot of things come to me when you sit and talk! The seven percent rule is just launched.
AE: [00:15:36] Well, thank you very much for recording this kind of knowledge content, Stellan and Anders!