Managing Enterprise Product Line Content – From Operational Excellence to Marketing Nirvana

In my earlier post, I outlined the key reasons behind many organizations’ poor quality of product line content. The reasons, varying from unstructured content to proliferation of different media channels to operational issues, are resulting in marketing message dilution and inconsistencies.  It is important for organizations to get their content act together and come up with a uniform approach to product line content management.

Let’s see how companies can improve the quality of their product line content for enhanced marketing effectiveness and results. Listed below are a few steps, to be implemented in the order listed, that can play a key role in ensuring higher content quality:

  • Content Audit: Fundamental to any content clean up act is an understanding of the “as-is” state of your company’s products. Getting to know the current state can help in proper scoping of the effort required. As part of this effort, all product content should be collected, modeled in a spreadsheet, and their attributes analyzed. This spreadsheet is known as the master product sheet.
  • Datasheet Audit: As discussed in my earlier post, a lot of valuable information remains trapped within the product datasheet and some of it needs to be brought out at the attribute level for enhancing product tagging and search experience. As part of this exercise, additional attributes from the datasheets are added to the master product attribute sheet.
  • Attribute Rationalization: Once the product master attribute list is complete, the “rationalization” task starts. As part of this effort, the task will be to bring down the total number of attributes by zeroing in on one attribute from among a group of similar attributes. As mentioned in my earlier post, “Primary Benefits” and “Key Benefits” are communicating the same message, so instead of using them both for different products the objective should be to select one of them for the product definition. This exercise will reduce the number of attributes significantly and get you well on your way towards efficiency.
  • Creation of Standard Product Template: After the “attribute rationalization” step, the focus should be on putting an effort towards building a standard product template. Typically, enterprise content management products or e-commerce suites will allow you to build product templates with the option of future customization (adding or removing attributes). A template built out of consensus is easier said than done. However, in most cases, it will be a customization of existing templates. Strict governance control should be built around the template and its management.
  • Migration of Content to New Template: The most challenging aspect of content migration, however, is not the actual migration, but populating the master product attribute list with content – especially the values of the attributes that were collected from the datasheets. This will be a painstaking manual job, as there is no easy shortcut. The good news is it will be worth the effort. Once the master product sheet is ready with the content, the content migration process can start manually, automatically or using a combination of the two.

A well thought out approach, on the above lines, will help organizations improve their content management process towards their various product lines. Our experience shows that those organizations that have a uniform, consistent and an integrated approach to managing their product line content have a higher probability of achieving market success.

We would be happy to hear your thoughts. Please drop in your suggestions in the below comment box.

Prithwiraj Deb

Manager - ECM Practice, Virtusa. Prithwiraj is a manager in the business consulting group of Virtusa, with focus and expertise in Enterprise Content Management, Portal Development and Storage Technology. He has been involved in implementing solutions for global clients across Industry verticals and domains. Prithwiraj joined Virtusa in 2006 and has since been a key member of the ECM Solutions Group. Prithwiraj is a certified AIIM ECM Practitioner and has interests in WCM, Web 2.0, Mobile Content and E-Commerce related areas. He holds a post-graduation in Business Administration from Xavier Labor Relation Institute (XLRI), India. Prithwiraj prefers reading travelogues as and when he gets the time, and loves travelling and visiting new places and cultural sites.

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