Tony Hsieh knows the value of knowledge sharing. The Zappos CEO could have kept his industry-changing standards for customer service, employee engagement, and corporate culture to himself, but he chose to share them — and even wrote a book on his philosophy.
Why would Hsieh reveal his billion-dollar company’s secrets to success? Because he understands that sharing knowledge is good for business.
Whether you’re running a multibillion-dollar retail company or a small startup, you might be tempted to hoard your exclusive knowledge or trade secret as your “competitive advantage.” But in B2B and B2C environments, sales happen on shared grounds of trust. And the best way to build that, both internally and externally, is by sharing your knowledge at every level.
Giving away your insights benefits you and your company
CEOs don’t earn their positions by being shy about their intelligence. Business leaders promote their ideas and demonstrate their knowledge to get ahead. But why stop sharing once you’ve reached that executive spot? Your network wants to hear what you have to say, so capitalize on that influence and organize your thoughts using resources like spreadsheets or a knowledge-management template. It’ll make you a stronger leader and help grow your company.
Knowledge sharing strengthens your business, both internally and externally, by:
1. Creating a sounding board. All feedback is invaluable, no matter how insightful it is. By sharing your ideas with employees, peers, and customers, you’ll hear other viewpoints and critical takes, which will challenge your thinking and make you a more informed and well-rounded leader.
2. Empowering your employees. You want your team to be innovative and proactive, and consistently educating them can boost their motivation and set them up for success. Whether you share articles you’ve published or approach your staff directly, every interaction sets the tone for what’s important to your business. Knowledge sharing also encourages interdepartmental collaboration, eliminating unnecessary barriers to making real progress.
3. Training your audience. How much smoother would customer interactions be if you could eliminate the most common misunderstandings or problems before you start working together? By publishing content, speaking at conferences, or just chatting on the phone, you set clients’ expectations for the relationship and instill “good habits” before there’s any room for miscommunication. The more you educate prospects on how your company operates, the more comfortable they’ll feel working with you. When you prepare them for potential challenges, they’ll become better customers in the long run.
4. Positioning you as a thought leader. By offering up your insights and experiences, you establish authority in your industry and gain exposure for your company. This is an important aspect of your company’s marketing plan, especially as credible, valuable content becomes increasingly important in growing a successful business.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is known for his innovative, customer-centric strategies and has written and publicly discussed his approach. Like Hsieh, Bezos transformed his industry by sharing what works for his company. Their wild successes and active discussions about what they do differently not only makes them respected thought leaders, but also rallies their employees around a shared vision.
By imparting your knowledge in relatable, actionable ways, you can get both employees and potential customers to buy in to your message. Knowledge sharing excites and inspires employees to work hard for your company and makes prospects more comfortable and educated throughout the purchase process.
Don’t hold your knowledge hostage to make your company more exclusive. Consumers want approachable, socially conscious brands, and sharing your wisdom will help you earn their trust — and dollars.
Don Broekelmann is executive vice president at Influence & Co., a content marketing firm based in Columbia, Mo. Broekelmann works with Influence & Co.’s brand partners to develop content marketing plans to create authentic engagement with specific customer segments.
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