Morag Cuddeford-Jones takes up the challenge to pick her way through the minefield of acronyms, departmental silos and systems to figure out the essential bit of the marketing technology stack that should be safeguarding our product content.

Marketers can be a precious bunch. Hours spent agonising over the mot juste, just to find someone in sales or merchandising has mucked up their perfect copy for something altogether more – practical. Of course, it never occurs to the marketers that they might have been the ones doing the mucking up.

Actually, when it comes to getting a grip of product copy and content, each department is as bad as the last. They’re all tweaking, adding, taking away, embellishing, duplicating until there’s a big, old swamp of product information. No one knows what’s current anymore and a few people aren’t even sure whether or not the blasted thing is still on the market.

Not that it’s anyone’s fault, per se. Even in our super-democratised, flat management-style digital age, companies are still largely set up in departments. So a product ends up moving from one department to the next in order to be marketed or sold or merchandised, with  bodies taking over at each point to do their thing. No consideration for the poor old product information that’s being produced and manhandled all over the place.

But we really should spare a thought for it. Even before it’s magicked into reality, that product has a concept, a drawing, a spec. And then, when it’s brought to life, it accumulates a photo, a cost, a user guide, a manifest and so on. At some point, someone should really step in and find a central home for all this information; somewhere any department could go to find stuff out about this product – what’s gone before, what is missing, and what can be used again.

The problem is that hardly anyone ever does. Of course, there are files and folders on this and that computer. But, invariably, all of this information bunches up, new piling on top of old until there are 15 different product specs, price leaflets, inventory sheets. Which is the right one is anyone’s guess.

It’s not such an issue when the spread of your product information amounts to a rolodex and an annual print catalogue. But when content stretches across social, mobile, web, ecommerce site, reseller site, blog, and YouTube channels, the demands for information are relentless – and automated – there’s a need for a slightly more systematic approach.

..when content stretches across social, mobile, web, ecommerce site, reseller site, blog, and YouTube channels, the demands for information are relentless..

Now, be careful here because there’s a real risk of death by acronym. But, hidden behind all the TLAs is a series of technology that can bring some real order to the chaos and, if you’re willing to stick with all the abbreviations, there’s a payoff in the shape of a content system that just …works. 

First up, the PLM – the product lifecycle management tool. The PLM gathers in all the data created as a product develops, version over version, before it hits the marketplace.

This then winds up in the PIM – the product information management tool that centralizes and manages the information so there’s only one, accurate view of all a product’s data.

Finally (still with us?), there’s the DAM system – not swearing, it’s just a digital asset management system. This works with the PIM to add in the contextual marketing information, our carefully pored-over mots justes from earlier, matching it to the right product and keeping everything neat and tidy.

This kind of set up can deliver PCAAS – Product Content As A Service. It brings all the content together and makes it available to anyone who needs it, in its most up-to-date form, whenever they need it and in the format they want it. Content can be packaged and delivered to partners as a service, or it can be communication to your customers in the moment of their need, which is the kind of customer service most firms are still dreaming of.

What PLM, PIM, and DAM allow (say it really fast and it sounds like a drumroll. Go on, have a go) is for content creation and delivery on a massive and yet bespoke scale. Ecommerce sites can pull up latest stock, ready for responsive online advertising or automatically updated product specifications. CRM-based recommendation engines bring up tightly targeted, available alternatives via email, mobile, ads and more. Automation becomes your friend as you can trust that the information the system fishes for will be bang up to date.

To find out more about what the difference these three, friendly acronyms can make to your product and content strategy, delve into this free (no sign up required) whitepaper: DAM and PIM: A Match Made in MarTech, from industry analyst and DAM expert, Theresa Regli.

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