You don’t have to be in business circles long to hear people talk about the importance of knowledge sharing and giving away IP. It’s all too easy to nod along with this advice, hit ‘like’ or ‘share’, and leave it there. After all, no matter how good it sounds, giving away knowledge that was earned through years of hard work, trial and error, can go completely against what feels right. This is especially true for startups on a budget, when every action needs to count. Spending time and money on non monetised content can seem counter-intuitive.
Sharing knowledge isn’t just about altruism (although there is often an element of that), it’s also a strategic decision that is great for your business. Although it can be scary, there are tonnes of great benefits that come from being generous with your knowledge. Here are five of them.
1. Build connections
Knowledge sharing builds connections. Best of all, it allows you to build these connections on multiple levels: with potential clients, with fellow creators and businesses, and with broader audiences. Putting out work and sharing knowledge within your field attracts people who are interested in similar things, and draws them into conversation. They might just be following along because you have good information to share, but that doesn’t mean they won’t convert somewhere along the line, either as customers or for collaboration. By sharing your knowledge, you’re speaking their language and getting yourself on their radar.
2. Demonstrate authority
Putting your knowledge out into the world sets you up as an authority in your field, and demonstrates credibility. People learn that you know what’s going on, and they will begin looking to you to help solve their problems and answer their questions. Inbound marketing is especially valuable for startups, who are trying to have a big impact on a small budget. Instead of spending money chasing customers, spend it creating the content they need and building up your own authority, and have them come to you.
As well as being cost-effective, a proven track record of industry knowledge gives you a huge competitive advantage. People want expertise: they’ll pay for it and they’ll wait for it if they have to. Offering expertise gives your business longevity over those simply offering products because your knowledge is a unique selling point that will keep people coming back to you. If the product you offer is no longer meeting their needs, you have set them up to trust any change of course.
3. Receive feedback
Sharing knowledge starts a conversation, which means you get feedback on your ideas and insight into the market. Feedback is an extremely valuable commodity: it lets you inside the head of your customers or clients. If you’re sharing insight, you’ll find people telling you about their own experiences, problems and ideas. They’ll tell you their pain points and the things they do and don’t like about various solutions that are already on the market. The key is to listen, then you can use this information in two ways. The first is, of course, finding ways to solve the problems they describe. That might mean changing your products or offering new ones. The second is repeating these pain points back to your audience. This shows that you understand their experience deeply, which builds trust and attracts new clients. A lot of people ask their customers for feedback, but you’re more likely to get plenty of it if you’re an active part of the conversation.
4. Attracts clicks and backlinks
Creating valuable content online is the best way to attract backlinks, clicks and attention, and the best way to create truly valuable content is to share your knowledge. Your own experience and perspective is unique, and depending on your field of knowledge, you may have completely new information to share that doesn’t exist anywhere on the Internet. The more valuable the content you provide, the more people will link to it, establishing your authority in the digital space. The more you establish your authority, the more people will be inclined to share your work. It’s a snowball of exponential growth, but it starts with great content rich with valuable information.
5. Encourage reciprocity
Giving away information for free starts your relationships off on the right foot; with you providing something of value completely obligation-free. As you build connections, people become familiar with your brand and grow to trust you. You’ve given them value over time, and this inclines them to reciprocate when they have the opportunity. Almost everyone has a story of a blog they’ve read, podcast they’ve listened to, or other content they’ve consumed for free that eventually led to a purchase. When someone’s given us great content free and they finally come out with that book or launch that program, we jump at the chance to support them, all with the knowledge that the product will be great. Similarly, people follow brands online for the free content, planning to purchase when they have the money or when the occasion arrives. Give people a reason to follow you, even if they’re not ready to purchase or there’s no product available for them, and you set yourself up for future success.
Sharing your knowledge can seem foolish when you’re a startup just getting established, but the truth is there’s no better time to start creating valuable content.
This guest contribution was written by Alex Boston a co-founder of Paperlust, a platform for independent designers to create and monetise their stationery designs. Paperlust helps customers shop and create stationery in real-time to celebrate special events such as weddings, birthdays, baby announcements and once in a lifetime special events.
At Paperlust we want to showcase Australian independent designers to the world, and allow beautiful collaborations to produce exceptional and innovative custom products.