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In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris tackle the loss of institutional knowledge and how we could prevent it. If you’ve ever been at a conference over the span of a few years, you’ve heard the same questions come up during Q&A over and over again. Why? Because companies aren’t doing a good job of passing along institutional knowledge. Tune in to find out how to mitigate this problem.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn 0:02

This is In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast.

In this week’s in In-Ear Insights, we’re gonna try to talk about the revolving door.

So the revolving door is this.

Every time a company makes a new hire or promote somebody, you end up with this weird institutional knowledge loss, right where somebody moves on.

And as a result, you get people asking the same questions over and over and over again, maybe not the same person.

But it’s the same question.

Katie, you were in a Facebook group recently, a marketing Facebook group.

He said, it looks like the same questions.

And every time that we go to events and things like that the audience has the same questions like how do I do this in Google Analytics? And it’s not that there isn’t a lack of knowledge out there.

But it is that constant revolving door of losing knowledge, institutional or individual, that keeps us stuck on this treadmill.

So my question to you, okay, because this is a people problem more than anything else, is how do we get people off of this treadmill of being stuck? asking the same questions over and over again, because I’m going to go to Social Media Marketing World next year, almost, certainly to speak.

And I can guarantee you one of the first questions, I’m gonna guess, hey, how do we measure social media in Google Analytics? It’s like this.

We answered this in 2008.

Katie Robbert 1:25

So I think there’s two things.

One is, it’s a culture shift.

And part of that culture shift is, it’s not that you’re not immediately answering people’s questions, but you’re sort of pushing back a little bit to say, Well, what have you already tried? What have you already researched? Because I think that there’s like in the Facebook groups, and this is just one example.

But people are very quick to offer answers and solutions, which then conditions us to not even seek out answers on our own.

So that’s, it’s good that you have a place to go where you can get answers to your questions, but it also kind of takes you out of that place where you’re finding answers for yourself.

So that’s one half of the problem slash solution.

The other is, have we the people who have the answers, made it easy for people who have the questions to find the answers.

And so for example, you know, does our site have a frequently asked questions that we can sort of say, like, you know, here’s a list of the common questions that we as Trust Insights get, how do I measure social media on, you know, Google Analytics? How do I set up my Google Analytics? And do we have resources that then point people to the answers that we have given on those questions? Or Chris, you know, to your point, if you know anticipating the questions that you’re going to get at Social Media Marketing World, or content marketing world or whatever world, you happen to step into that day, why wouldn’t you lead with? Here’s a common list of questions that I typically see here are the answers to these questions.

What else do you have? Interesting

Christopher Penn 3:06

that I remember, I can’t remember where I saw it.

But there was a thing, one point in UI and UX discussion saying like Frequently Asked Questions lists are silly, because the answer should the question, the answer should be embedded within the content itself, rather than having a like a long ass page on your site.

But having a directory yet would actually be a very useful thing.

Like, you know, someone asks, How do I do Google Analytics, attribution and Google Analytics? Boy, we can link to the podcast episode something, but I just have also quick reference or cheat sheets for the different content, that’d be that’d be actually a really good idea.

We should we should maybe do that someday.

Katie Robbert 3:43

Well, I mean, I call it an FAQ.

I call it a cheat sheet, call it a reference library, whatever it is, it’s some sort of, you know, curated content that answers those common questions.

And so I agree, you don’t want to re answer the question on a separate page that you’ve already answered somewhere else, that’s more work for you, the person who’s maintaining the content, but you just want to be able to give someone an easy way to find the answer to the question.

And so let’s say, you know, we see people commonly coming to our website, asking the question, because we’ve looked at our own data, people come to us because they’ve asked the question, How do I measure social media on Google Analytics? So our first thing that we should be doing is, is that answer easy to find on our website? If not, how can we literally set up some kind of a link? Whether it’s, you know, let’s say we put it out on social media in our newsletter, you know, we get this question a lot.

How do you measure social media on Google Analytics? people click the link and they go straight to the piece of content that answers that question.

That is the cleanest way to handle it and to help people start to get back into that habit of self serving.

So one of the things.

So first of all, I should sort of make the disclaimer, I’m fascinated by Facebook groups, if you know anything about me, and if you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know that I have deep rooted interest in psychology and what makes people tick.

And that’s why I do change management, because it’s all based around people.

And so the more almost like out in the wild, the anthropologic anthropological studies that I can do of people and how they behave on like a Facebook group, the more information I get in terms of what are some of the challenges I’m going to run into.

So that being said, a lot of times, I’ll see the moderator of a group, you know, just sort of like posting this passive aggressive message.

Hey, friendly reminder, don’t forget, there’s a search button at the top of the group.

Here’s what the search button looks like, here’s how you can find answers to commonly asked questions.

And so they’re not setting up that directory.

They’re actually just sort of like, shaming people for not searching first.

And so there’s this give and take that needs to happen.

You can’t just tell people, hey, you need to go find your own answer, I’m not going to help you, you need to sort of meet them halfway.

And then they need to meet you halfway.

They need to use the directory you’ve set up but you need to create that directory in order for them to use it.

Christopher Penn 6:18

To be a directory should you be like literal cheat sheets, because I I’m attracted to this idea that you know, it certainly like the our programming world, we have these, these sheets, which are really fantastic.

And they are just huge lifesaver.

I’ll show you an example of one here.

And if you’re listening to this, go over to the YouTube channel TrustInsights.ai dot AI slash YouTube, at least for this part of the show, you can see just an example.

And this is what one of the cheat sheets looks like.

It just says, Here’s like the code, here’s what you’re trying to do.

And here’s the different coated pieces.

I think there might be something to this idea.

If you run a slack group if you run a Facebook group and stuff in it, and you have these lists of questions or if you speak on stage, and you have a list of questions certainly like one of the things that I do is kind of a fun little hack is every single time that I do a webinar or virtual event, there’s a chat room.

Before I leave, I copy and paste everything that was in the chat room into a text file and just store lists of questions, just to see, like what questions keep coming up over and over again, it might be time to start assembling some of these like if for example for our stuff, I Trust Insights, you know, social media analytics chichi, here’s the 15 blog posts on in the 12 podcast episodes and the three YouTube.

So what episodes all just with links, you know, to serious questions about this.

Here’s the question, here’s the link to the answer.

question answer.

Not super complicated, probably won’t look as nice as this because none of us are designers.

But it might be that might be the kind of thing that you could then hand like when someone on boards into the slack community, hey, here’s your welcome kit.

When someone becomes a new customer of the company, you hand them a welcome kit like yeah, here’s how you pay your bills.

And also, and by the way, if you’ve got questions that we assume are pretty common, here’s here’s a cheat sheet of all the content we produced.

And that’s that would be a really, I’ve never seen any agency or consulted from do something like that, where they say you probably have these questions, here’s a link to all the free stuff so that you can get your team skilled up right away.

Katie Robbert 8:24

Well, and that’s just it.

So again, call it an FAQ is call it a directory, it doesn’t matter what you call it, the end result, or the goal is roughly the same.

And so, you know, I think it’s one of the things that I try to do is to try to get ahead of the questions that I know people are going to ask so that you’re doing your best to answer them and not spend time at the end.

If you’re like, Oh, I knew they were gonna ask that question.

Why didn’t I just answer it? Go ahead and answer those questions ahead of time.

It’s, it’s what you’re there for you as the expert are there to answer those questions.

So instead of frustrating yourself going, you know, Chris, I’m going to pick on you now you had said, I know I’m going to get this question again.

Okay, great.

What are you going to do about it? Are you going to stand there and be frustrated when you’re like, someone’s asked me this question like 800 million times? Are you going to proactively try to answer it? So that maybe they’ll be like, Oh, you know, my headspace has cleared up from that question that I had, maybe I have a more advanced question now.

Because they already know the answer to that other question.

Christopher Penn 9:27

I like that.

And what I think I’m going to do with it is, again, take a lot of this question that we anticipate ahead of time and link it up to the various pieces of content.

But one of the things that we’ve done and it’s been very successful, we will continue to do it is provide a link called Where can I get the slides? for people who want to get session materials and stuff and you make an announcement about that, but not everybody wants to get the slides, you know that some of those have names here.

But if you also start with here’s some common questions that we’ve answered in advance That would be an additional value add that you could put into a presentation.

That might also get you not only your registrations for an event, but it might get you different people respond to that.

And the people who want to get the slides, you

Katie Robbert 10:15

need to go register, where can I get the answers.com? No, but I think that it makes sense because it does a couple of things.

One, it keeps your audience engaged, because they’re seeking those answers.

And then two, it gives us the experts an opportunity to really think through and list out all of those things.

And so, you know, you can start to tie it back to content marketing and that content strategy.

You know, one of the common issues that we see with our clients is they’ve created so much content, that they forget what they’ve already done, and they just keep creating more instead of going back, and cataloging and categorizing what they already have, and repurposing it.

And so this is a great opportunity to do that.

So you know, we work with a an agency that does a lot of work around social media, I would assume that those common questions How do I measure social media, which social media channel gets the best, you know, conversion for a B2C versus a B2B? Or you know this, that neither whatever the questions are, that would be a light lift for that agency to repurpose a lot of what they’ve already done, and re optimize older content to make sure it’s up to date.

For us, it’s probably going to be a lot of questions around you know, Google Analytics and measurement and, you know, getting you know, their mahr tech stack stood up.

And we have a lot of content around that.

So why wouldn’t we do the same thing? So I really liked that idea, Chris, of you know, giving audiences whether they are seeing you at an event or just in general, where can I get the answers calm? They click on that, and they get a list of questions around a specific topic, we can let them know what the topic is that week or that month, and they can get answers to those questions.

Christopher Penn 12:07

Yeah, I mean, I was just looking.

So on the Trust Insights website alone, we have 595 posts, we’ve put on our blog, in the last three years plus an additional 100.

So odd pages, on my personal website, there’s 3200 blog posts there.

You know, since 2007, there’s 764 episodes of marketing over coffee.

So there’s a lot of catalogue to go through.

So I think it might be time to write some code to, you know, start extracting out, you know, pages and the page titles, try to pull out the categories and topics and reorder things, then look at just straight up page views, you know, is the metric that we often don’t use properly.

But in this case, what pages within that category are the most popular, great, those are the ones we start with writing our cheat sheet because, you know, 800,000 people have been to how do I start my public speaking career? Seems like that’d be a good section to just, you know, a good place to start the public speaking questions that that people have.

So yeah, it might be time to write some code to do this, because you don’t want to do by hand, not with 1000s of posts.

Katie Robbert 13:14

Well, so then the other side of that question is have we done our job and making sure that the content is titled correctly, or tagged correctly, I, there’s probably quite a quite a few posts where the title doesn’t really match what the content is, you know, and so I think that before we get into page views, because, you know, and again, sort of just picking on you a little bit, but this is a common issue that a lot of companies have, like I know, from having worked with you for the past, you know, six some odd years, I know that a lot of the blog posts that you have aren’t topically relevant, necessarily.

And it might be like, here’s what I’m clicking on this Friday, or you know, that kind of a thing.

And so yes, you have, you know, a lot of really good content, but some of it might not be relevant, but depending on what you called it, it might show up, or if you’re looking just at page views alone, maybe your recipe for how to make an omelet is the most popular thing.

And so No, and I what basically my the point that I’m making is, you know, if you are just looking at page views and writing the code to say, whatever page is the most popular feed that in here, it might be a mismatch.

And so there does need to be that human intervention.

And I think the first thing we need to do is make sure that all of our content is optimized and categorized correctly and titled correctly, and then we can move on to that phase of code.

Christopher Penn 14:45

Yeah, at the very least, categorize like, you know, these are the most common words within each post, because that will also help if a post is titled something clever, but is in fact, just about Google Analytics.

We would want to know what actually got us to Google i O.

Next post.

Katie Robbert 15:00

Right, exactly.

And so I think there’s some work that we need to do first before we get to the second phase of it, but I think that it’s a doable thing.

I think it’s an absolutely doable thing.

And I think, you know, so you’ll be talking about natural language processing at an upcoming conference, the MAE con conference.

And so what are some of the common questions that I assumed you’d be covering in your presentation, but the people would want to walk away with like, here’s your cheat sheet of answers to your common questions about natural language processing that, yes, I covered in my slides.

But as we talked about in our live stream last week, the slide deck itself doesn’t give you much information.

It’s just sort of there as a visual prop for the speaker themselves.

Christopher Penn 15:51

That’s clever the cheat sheet as the handout for the slides.

I like that.

Yeah, with natural language processing is it’s for any topic, which is primarily What is this thing? Talk? It always starts with the first two questions? What, why? And how, what is this thing? Why do I care about it? How does it work? How much does it cost? How do I get started? You know, can I buy it? Do I need an agency, etc? Those are all of the basic questions that you’ll always get out of what is this kind of talk, and you try and answer those within the talk itself.

But to your point, we’ve done podcasts and webinars and things on natural language processing, we produced new content of the there’s a whole new chapter in AI promarkers, the third edition on natural language processing.

So there’s, there’s a lot of stuff out there.

So my task would be, I guess, to look at the catalog, what we have already tagged either with NLP, or with some of the known keywords like GPT, three, for example, and say, Okay, these are the posts, this is the stuff we have in the catalog.

And then how do I slot it into those three questions? What is it? Why does it matter? How does it work?

Katie Robbert 16:58

Well, and interestingly, you just rattled off about 10 questions about natural language processing.

So what I would envision is, you know, if I’m at that conference, and you say, you know, now that we’ve gone through this presentation, I want to leave you with this handy cheat sheet of resources to answer those common questions.

So that, you know, you can remember me and whatever the thing is, but basically what you’re doing two things.

One, you are positioning yourself as that subject matter expert in that topic.

So when someone thinks I have questions on natural language processing, they think of Chris Penn, but to you are bringing people back to the Trust Insights website, to explore our content and re engage with it.

And so what they should walk away with is some sort of way to easily get that list of questions and the resources associated.

Yep.

Christopher Penn 17:56

Yeah.

It could just literally be a bulleted bulleted post or page on the website.

Yes, that’s.

That’s interesting.

Because when you think about that’s not just something for speakers either.

That goes back to the original question, which is how do you preserve that institutional knowledge? How do you keep your new junior staff from asking the same question? I remember when we started doing a more formal onboarding with our team at our old agency, we there was a lot of like, in the first week, these are the things you have to read, these are the courses you have to take, these are the you know, the the videos you have to watch.

And even if the person didn’t know why they were watching it at that point, because they would, you know, literally, we can do their job, they didn’t have any clients or anything, they at least remember that it existed.

So when those questions came up later on in their actual client work, they would know oh, I actually I have seen something like this before, somewhere, I need to go and find it.

So there’s a lesson for everyone there in terms of institutional knowledge, oh, if you give somebody basically the table of contents for your team’s knowledge base, that goes a long way to helping your your staff remember where things are?

Katie Robbert 19:03

Well, and then it goes back to that other side of the equation of retraining people to self serve.

So in that scenario, Chris, let’s say you put together this library of resources around you know, everything that you know about Google Analytics, and let’s say I, as a staff member come to you and say, Hey, Chris, what source medium and Google Analytics, do you give me the answer straight away? Or do you point me back to that resource and say, if you can’t find the answer, then come ask me.

Christopher Penn 19:34

Exactly.

Pull up the quick reference handbook.

Look at that first, and then let me know.

Katie Robbert 19:39

Yes.

And so I think that that’s sort of the other piece of it is if you go through all of this work to create that resource library, or cheat sheet or whatever you call it.

Then you also need to make sure you’re continually pointing people back to it and that’s, you know, the people side of things is so you can what you can lead a horse to water Or you can teach a man to fish, or whatever the analogy is.

But basically, if you are doing all of this work, and then not reinforcing that that’s where people should go to the to get the answer, then it was all for nothing.

And I’m not saying you just need to be a straight up jerk and be like, I’m not going to give you the answer.

I wrote it down over here.

The reason why you continually point back to that is because we, culturally, I mean, everybody has gotten so used to this instantaneous, just tell me now I don’t want to have to do the work.

And so that’s a habit that, quite frankly, we need to break.

Christopher Penn 20:41

That’s true.

I mean, he can, there are places where it’s definitely gonna be risky, you know, airline pilots are taught you to have a quick reference Handbook, because you do not have time in an emergency, just, you know, call it tech support from Boeing, hey, this planes doing this thing? What should I do about it,

Katie Robbert 21:00

turn it off and turn it on again.

Christopher Penn 21:02

I mean, they actually I was one of the steps, it’s like step 14 for for engine power loss.

But the quick reference handbook is there like this is the place you go when, when the dedication sit, the ventilation, this is the place to go first.

So click through it, find the problem, and run the checklist.

And if that doesn’t work, then call for help.

Because at that point, you know that that should have solved most of the common problems.

Katie Robbert 21:25

Well, and you bring up a really good point, like there’s always going to be exceptions, or it’s always going to be conditional.

And so I’m making the broad statement, you know, we should make people do some of the work themselves to find the answer, obviously, in life or death situations, you know, if you know, let’s say, I’m a surgeon, and I say, Oh, my God, where did the spleen go? You? I would like to say, you would just tell me, instead of being like, Well, why don’t you retrace your steps and try to figure it out for yourself.

Like, there’s obviously exceptions to these rules that we’re outlining, like, there’s times where it’s completely appropriate just to give someone the answer versus trying to make them seek it out themselves.

But what we’re talking about are not life or death situations, we’re talking about helping people learn the Learn marketing information that they can then retain, and then pass along over time.

And so I’m not looking for someone spleen that fell out during surgery, I’m looking to understand more about you know, how to measure social media.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s not urgent, that’s something that I can take a minute, 90 seconds, two minutes to find the answer on my own.

And that’s the difference between those sort of two things.

Christopher Penn 22:52

Yeah, that makes sense.

I could see that being a bit of a challenge.

So if, here’s, here’s the last question, what if, what if you’re a company or you work at a company where that content doesn’t exist? Right? No one’s ever written it down.

They call customer services answering the same seven questions all day long.

And you know, they call it like, have you tried turning it off? You know, that kind of thing.

as marketers, who if you go to your company’s website, like, wow, this is all 100%, self promotional crap, none of this answers Any questions? What do you do in that case?

Katie Robbert 23:31

I mean, that’s a huge opportunity.

It’s a huge opportunity to create all kinds of new helpful content that answer those questions.

And so what I would do there is I would start collecting information.

Maybe I start with the customer support team, what are the top four questions you get every single day? And it’s probably, you know, why is it blue and not green? Or, you know, why does this red button blink when I keep pushing it? Or why does it hurt? When I put my finger here? We’ll stop doing that.

You know, but you know, and then ask question, have you written down those answers? Does it exist anywhere? Or do you keep repeating the same thing over and over again? And that’s an opportunity be like, Okay, let me make your job a little easier.

Now, this is where you come into change management and sort of that same conversation we have around will AI take my job, if customer service believes that their sole purpose is to answer those questions, and then you take away answering those questions, there’s obviously going to be some resistance to that.

So part of that change management and part of that people management is helping them understand and hearing their reservations around if you’re not answering those questions.

Are there other questions, more advanced questions that maybe you’re not getting to? Or maybe you’re not able to actually build those relationships with customers because they just call you angry? What would it look like if they weren’t calling you angry and just had general curiosity? Well, you know, I’m trying to cook brown rice instead.

White rice, how do I make that in my instapot? And that’s a different conversation than the stupid piece of crap doesn’t even work.

I can’t get it to turn on.

Christopher Penn 25:08

Right? That makes sense.

No, it sounds like there’s some usable things for everyone to onboard new staff to help retrain existing staff.

And to reduce that institutional knowledge leakage with cheat sheets, or directories or pro tips or whatever, again, whatever you want to call them, and do so in such a way that they actually become valuable marketing tools in and of themselves.

If you got questions about anything we’ve talked about in today’s episode, pop on over to our free slack group where you can ask all these questions and we’ll get answers of some kind at Trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers and wherever it is that you’re watching or listening to this episode.

If there’s a channel you preferred on chances are we’re on it.

Go to Trust insights.ai slash ti podcast.

You can see where else you can catch the show.

Thanks for tuning in.

We’ll talk to you next time.

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