An excellent post from our friends at P80 on their blog yesterday titled “Knowledge Sharing as Inbound Marketing”.
We see knowledge sharing as a means to propel both our business and our customer’s business forward. While we don’t use it specifically for inbound marketing, there are obvious fringe benefits of sharing knowledge with both partners and competitors. We share information with our colleagues in many ways, and I will give examples of three below:
We use professional organizations that already have an assembly of our peers. One such organization is WHMA (Wire Harness Manufacturers Association) which provides a listserv allowing members to discuss hard to find inventory, software suggestions, and tooling inquiries as examples. If you are building wire harnesses or are connected to the industry in any way, you should be part of this organization in my opinion (it is not limited to a listserv).
Another example of knowledge sharing is online forums and blogs. I think it is important to have a dialogue with our customers and colleagues, so I actively participate in forums such as CR4, groups on LinkedIn, and blogs like The Drucker Exchange. Many “old school” types are afraid that asking questions will show potential customers weakness in your organization. After all, we are supposed to know everything there is to know about the business we are in right? My defense is that the smartest man I have ever been in contact with, Ted Krellner, never stopped asking questions. When he had a question that needed an answer, he would ask anyone who would listen, from the boy delivering the paper outside to the CEO of the organization. There is always more for us to know. Also, by asking these questions (and more importantly answering others) we create a dialogue that can help show PC Systems’ expertise in the interconnect world.
Finally, we reach out to direct competitors on a regular basis who provide a complimentary product line to ours. At PC Systems, it is our goal to be a solutions provider rather than sell commodities (sounds cliché I know). We realize that there are others who can do certain jobs better than us, so we don’t try and reinvent the wheel. We will either point our customers in the direction of the best supplier or if they don’t want to add a supplier to their list, provide the parts on a buy/resell basis. We would prefer that our customers use PC Systems as their one-stop shop for wire harnesses, electrical connections, and overmolded connectors rather than a Google search. Most of the time we can service them directly, but if we can’t, we know someone who can. We have found that working with our competitors in Europe is extremely effective, because it provides our competitor (or partner depending on how you look at it) exposure here in the US, while also opening another channel for our product in Europe.