Where is the file? A naming convention template for marketing documentation
It’s 9 PM and your best sales person needs the latest version of the product presentation. She will have to present it the following morning to what could be your company’s largest client. “Can’t find the latest version. Can you email it ASAP? Thanks.” You look up the Marketing Collateral shared folder, where your intern is supposed to keep all sales material, and here’s what you find:
- Product PResentation John edits 5–3–2011.ppt
- Product Presentation JC final v2 5–3–2011.ppt
- etc. etc.
You get the point.
A clear and agreed-upon documentation naming convention can spare unnecessary stress, limit the proliferation of “unofficial” marketing documents inside and outside the company and simplify a marketing manager’s life.
Here’s a relatively complete and simple way to name your marketing files. It is just one approach. Every situation is different so don’t take this verbatim, but adapt to your specific needs. This can applied to traditional files, as well as any content management system or even Google Docs and similar solutions. In our typical naming convention implementation, a document identifier has the following structure:
Let’s look at it in detail.
Business Area (aaa)
This is a 2–3 digit code that identifies the specific business area or product. So for example a software company may want to distinguish between its product, Acme Software, and its professional services business, Acme Services. Then it can use for example ACS and PRO respectively.
Document Type (bb)
This is a 2-digit code that indicates the type of collateral. Fore example:
- WP for Whitepaper
- PP for Presentation
- PR for Press Release
- BR for Brochure
- VI for Video
- PD for Podcast
- SS for Spec Sheet
- IG for Infographic
Note that this is NOT the file format type, but a classification that is meaningful from a marketing application standpoint.
This is a 1-digit code that indicates the status of a document. It is vital to know when a document can be shared and how broadly. So for example you could use:
- P for Publishable
- T for Market Test
- I for Internal Only
- C for Customer Confidential Only
- B for Board Only
It is also important to have codes to quickly identify old material no longer in use or in draft, for example:
- O for Obsolete
- D for Draft
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Note: we like to use dashes to separate words for readability.
Yes, Year-Month-Day. The format is important. If you have multiple documents with the same type and description, using the international standard format for dates will make it a lot easier to sort by date. You can decide how to best “timestamp” the title of a document, but we tend to agree to rename the file with a new date every time we last click save and share/upload the document. Timestamping titles is very useful. Example:
Versioning is the final bit of information you should be able to gather at a glance from a document filename or title. Let say you are working with an agency to finalize a press release and you are sending back and forth a half dozen new edits in an afternoon… (Yes, I know you still do that, even in the age of Yammer and Google Docs!). Versioning is your sanity insurance:
The next time your sales person needs the latest version she can find it easily. Here it is: ACM_PP_P_Acme-product-presentation_20110723_V05.ppt.
Featured image by by Horrgakx / Flickr