Content management begins at the source. Business units tend to be very enthusiastic about every new product because they are convinced that every new product is a breakthrough that their competition could never conceive of. Unfortunately they often ignore competition when they come to this conclusion.
Product marketing managers are invested in every new launch. This is especially true the younger the product marketing team is. My theory for this is that with turnover and promotions, the young marketing manager has to manage product created by their predecessors. They have less personal ownership for this legacy and may even disregard any responsibility for the success of previous generations since they did not come from their creation.
New products on the other hand are all created with their new strategy in mind and are brilliant in conception, have no competition (sic), and will see no resistance when they are delivered to the market and will be 100% adopted immediately.
I am making a broad generalization but product managers are loath to support product information for old product from their predessors but they are very enthusiastic to provide anything for their new releases that of course are brilliant. Sarcasm aside, work with these managers to get in front of capturing product information about these new and brilliant products or services at the source. If you can successfully get to critical mass by capturing everything needed for new releases, you may be able to look backward and catch up with cash cows and even older products but don't bother starting there. Go the easy route for fast effect.
What are your products or services? In most situations, they follow a specification. For findability, capture all of these specifications so you can search through them parametrically and on a minimum basis through standardized keywords. For productivity reasons, capture these parametrics as close to the source of the information as possible.
Your component standards are likely to be established by historic precident. If not, create one from your first day on the job. You will use this litmus test as a profile again and again and it will save you thousands of man hours each year. Publish these standards and enforce them for all products. You will regret every exception, I assure you.
If you do have the nirvana of perfect data, it will be easy to create your search applications and you will win awards through your creativity. If not, you will use up untold resources cleaning up your data and disappointing your customers.
When I first created a web site, an engineer's badge of seniority was a wall of databooks on their shelf. The more senior they were, the more vendors colors they had on their wall. The publishing of these catalogs each year was a ritual that was followed by the physical delivery by each sales person to the senior engineer's shelf over a discussion about the year's projects.
Disrupting this cycle was painful but necessary. It seems obvious today with the ubiquitous availability of documents and information on the internet but this was not the business process in the day. Our sales people were not happy that they were losing a reason for a discovery visit with that engineer each year. This loss was replaced with targeted and highly profiled lead events but we will cover that in another section. For now, this was just a bit of historic trivia.
Of course, the benefits of today's process for the customer is obvious. Instant access to all product information with a simple search and the ability to quickly order samples or information without having to get a call back from a sales person definitely saves the customer time. The capture of complete information about these products enables this cycle. The capture of this information in a standardized format, with branded colors, and optimized formatting, can increase the benefit for your customers even more.
The standardization of component and document standards will enable you to create automated content management creation. This automation will enable you to create automatic translations that are highly efficient. It also has the added benefit of efficient and accurate error correction. We all get wonderful help from our customers each day in the form of complaints or suggestions about the typos or inaccuracies in our documentation. The more standardized your component and document standards, the higher the likelihood that you will be able to accept that critique and immediately correct your error and thank the customer for their help.
Fixes to your web site that do not correct the core component, document, or content management source, are guaranteed to lead to confusion down the line as the source content diverges over time. Do yourself a favor and attack these problems at the source where possible.
This Web site is aimed at capturing some of the basic concepts I use when creating integrated marketing programs and leveraging the internet.
Phil Gibson ©2016