Avoid the Telephone Game with Content Blueprinting

Remember the childhood game “telephone”? You come up with a sentence and whisper it to your neighbor, who whispers it to her neighbor, and so on? By the time the sentence reaches the end of the line, it barely resembles its former self. In my day, telephone was a fun excuse to say wacky, nonsensical, and sometimes unspeakable things, like curse words or obvious hints about someone’s secret crush. Telephone was also instructive–it showed how easily information skews as it passes through various channels.

What’s Telephone Got to Do with Content?

Managing the creation of product-page content is its own version of telephone. And it’s especially problematic for large companies with massive inventory, for products with complicated specs, for companies working with extensive legal restrictions, and for e-tailers managing big overhauls of their online stores.

Content blueprinting prevents the tangle of uncertainty around product information that can result in limited or inaccurate product-page content.

The challenge for these companies often begins with a weak or non-existent content management process. Without it, you run into product info and specs that are haphazardly collected and not properly shared among departments. This could lead to missing or inaccurate information or sloppy writing down the road. Even if you manage to sidestep inaccuracies, your content writers may miss out on useful product factoids lost somewhere between the design studio and the marketing manager’s office.

Without a system, creating quality content for the web is more challenging than it needs to be.

Think of this system as “content blueprinting.”

Cut through the Static with a Blueprint

Like the last line in telephone, information on the product page is several steps removed from its original sources. And since product-page content is important for conversion, it’s wise to accept blueprinting as an integral step in content creation.

Any size company, in any vertical, will benefit from devising an internal system for collecting, sharing, and approving product information within and between departments–from design and engineering to marketing and sales and beyond. You’ll have a solid, one-stop source for internal use. Your content team will have the assets they need to create accurate copy. And everyone involved in the content creation process will have more time to focus on presenting the products in a compelling way that reflects your brand’s attributes.

Steps of Content Blueprinting

  1. Devise a system for aggregating product information. This could take many forms. The important thing is to find something that’s easy to use for all parties involved.
  2. Create a one-stop source for each product that includes all details, from materials and place of manufacture to major features, technical specs, included accessories (or not included but necessary parts), and user benefits. Even if you don’t list these on your website now, you may end up syndicating your content on retail sites requiring such information.
  3. Work with an editor to draft a style guide for your product descriptions.
  4. Verify the product information is robust, accurate, and up-to-date before you hand off the assignment to content writers.

The Takeaway

To avoid missing or inaccurate product information on your product pages, treat content blueprinting as a necessary step in creating enhanced content.

Want more guidance on content blueprinting and getting high-quality enhanced content on your preferred online retailers? Email David Zimmerman now.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 4/5/2012 at content26’s old blog, content26blog.dev. For this update we added a link or two and did very little else.

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