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25 5 Ways To Get a Greater Return on Content

We’re all pumping out lots and lots of educational content these days because we know that’s what we must do in order for the market to find us and trust that we have the answers to their problems.

Learning Management

HowardLake via Flickr CC

But, now our customers, prospects and even our staff are drowning in information and it has me wondering just how much education is really going on.

What if instead of simply putting reams of information out to be consumed we started employing tactics that made the content easier to consume, had built in learning paths and even tests that allowed the reader to verify how much they got from the content and the publisher of the content to use their content in much more focused and effective ways?

In short, the most effective content management needs to include learning management strategies, tactics and tools to produce the greatest return on content. We hear lots of talk about content management tools, now it’s time to move the conversation to use of learning management tools and systems as well.

Below are five cases where learning management principles could easily apply.

Customer orientation

What if you created a course that helped new customers understand how you work, who they should contact for any issues, what you need to get started working with them, what they can expect next?

By creating a series of lessons, complete with video introductions, reviews and interactive checklists, you can reinforce everything that was built in the sales process and make sure that expectations are met.

Now, you could certainly do this face to face or with a kit of materials as well, but by initiating an on demand orientation you can create the most flexible reinforcement and know when and how your customer consumed it.

Staff orientation

Staff training should never really end. Every business should produce a course that includes things such as the company story, history, key marketing strategy, marketing messages, product overviews and core values and then begin the process of leadership development from there. By documenting this training you can make sure it’s delivered and consumed by every new hire.

Sales training

Getting every salesperson to use the same approach to communicating the company story, value proposition and “way we do it here,” is essential if you are to build marketing momentum around your brand.

By using a set of courses that require moving through levels of information you can provide your entire sales team with the opportunity to be most successful.

Referral training

One of the reasons many organization don’t receive the number of referrals they could is that they don’t have a way to educate referral sources on things like how they might spot an ideal referral or how to talk about their core difference.

Imagine creating a training that you could use with key strategic partners that taught them all about how to get more referrals – do you think that could make you a pretty desirable partner to work with?

Continuing education

Every product or service that you provide could benefit from training and continuing education courses that help your customers get more from what they’ve purchased, use increasingly advance features and reinforce new behaviors that help increase the value of working with your company.

Content markers need to up the value of their content by employing tools that help drive this value home. Look into services like Blackboard, Mindflash, Bloomfire or Knoodle and starting finding ways to create a higher return on content.

30 The next wave in business blogging

Compendium BlogwareBusiness owners, more or less, have accepted blogs as a necessary part of the marketing mix and some have even come to the realization that this blogging is a good thing.

So, what’s next you ask? I think it’s time to move beyond the notion that a blog is part of a website, an appendage of sorts, where blog posting is done. The idea that makes blogs so powerful is that they enable anyone in the organization to easily create education based, search-engine friendly content at the drop of a hat.

Now it’s time to amp this power up and start utilizing what we’ve learned about blogs to create fully functioning content management systems (CMS) that give businesses the power to dominate search results through massive content creation, cross purposing, and keyword-rich aggregation and filtering.

Now, before you flip out and curse me for suggesting that blogs are so last year – understand that a blog, WordPress for example, is a simple form of a CMS. Content is easily created, stored in a database, delivered to a designated page, tagged, and searchable. All the primary elements of CMS are there, but it’s set-up mostly for the individual author instead of the group or organization.

A host of applications, some old, some new, are gaining favor in the newer “group content creation for the greater good” mindset. By the way CMS has been around for a long time, but mostly as an internal tool for large organizations.

I would like to suggest that a robust, group centric, CMS platform is the next wave for business blogging – but not blogging and “we have a blog” – blogging as a fully integrated web strategy.

Here’s a list of some of the major players, with descriptions from their sites, to get you started. Many are open source, free and require Linux, PHP and mySql (much like a WordPress install)

Some simple CMS tools

  • Textpattern – A flexible, elegant and easy-to-use content management system. Textpattern is both free and open source.
  • Alfresco – Alfresco is the Open Source Alternative for Enterprise Content Management (ECM), providing Document Management, Collaboration, Records Management, Knowledge Management, Web Content Management and Imaging
  • Pligg – Pligg is an open source content management system available for download at no cost.

An LMS for CMS

  • Moodle – a favorite among educators and considered a Learning Management System (I’m using it to build Duct Tape University, but more on that later.)

The Biggies with lots of add-ons, templates, and examples

  • Joomla – Joomla! is one of the most powerful Open Source Content Management Systems on the planet.
  • Drupal – Drupal is a free software package that allows an individual or a community of users to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website.

One built for small business marketers

  • Compendium Blogware – a relatively new player with an interesting twist. This is essentially a tool for group blogging that automatically structures blog content across the group for maximum search engine optimization. I’ll do a full review of this tool after some testing.

This CMS Matrix – allows you compare features of dozens of CMS offerings side by side.

Any small business folks out there want to share their implementations of a CMS?