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Ten tips for better marketing asset management

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12th Mar 2015
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One of the biggest challenges facing today’s retailers and brand marketers is how on earth to keep track of the sheer amount of visual and other promotional content in today’s omnichannel environment? To add to this complex task, is the need to ensure a consistent consumer experience, protect the brand or retailer’s IP and meet compliance and regulatory standards.

It’s not unusual for a company to have in excess of 50-100,000 marketing assets: images, video, audio, brochures, data sheets, social media and PR content for example. The volume continues to grow exponentially as campaigns become increasingly multi-layered, and this is often further compounded by the explosion of content shared and distributed around the world, thanks to the global omnichannel environment in which we operate..

The issues arise when companies lack clear visibility and control over all these assets. This, can lead to a whole host of problems, which range from the plain annoying (such as not being able to find the right file) through to legal action, not to mention wasted marketing budget along the way.

For example, think about the sheer amount of time that can be wasted trying to find the right  document (and being sure that the version found is the latest one). Anecdotally, North Plains knows of one example where a brand used to spend an estimated $50 US dollars every time it asked its agency to send an image via CD (simply because finding the right images was so difficult in the company’s own system at that time). Duplication of effort is also a common by-product: for instance, one office commissions an expensive photo shoot, because it did not realise that suitable images already existed.

Another risk comes from using images without the appropriate permissions. It’s not uncommon for campaigns to be built around an unapproved image, simply because the respective team was unaware of the usage restrictions associated with the image. Similarly, with so much content being created and freely distributed via methods such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, it is very easy to infringe on someone else’s intellectual property or for a company to find that its’ own assets are being used without permission. Again, anecdotally we know of one marketing department that had to spend three weeks focusing on finding out how on earth a particular image – that was not its property – had been used.  Apart from anything else, that’s a lot of employee time lost.

The bottom line is that without proper management of their customer-facing assets, organisations are exposing their brand equity and their staff to a whole raft of potential problems. So how do companies combat this problem? 

There isn’t a one size fits all solution and ideally the solution is found through a combination of cultural change and the introduction of internal processes and appropriate tools.

Ten tips for better marketing asset management

Here are some ‘best practice’ suggestions:.

  1. Wide angle view – creating a marketing asset management strategy, developing processes and finding the right tools should involve all the relevant stakeholders: marketing, customer experience, sales, procurement, legal, HR and even external partners. All have their own requirements and can provide useful input.
  2. Top down – many companies who’ve implemented the best asset management strategies have been those that have understood the need for senior level buy-in. If the CEO believes that having better control over assets is important, others will follow suit.
  3. Simple is best – it may sound obvious, but when implementing a digital asset management (DAM) system, usability is everything. People will not use technology unless it is intuitive, requires minimal or zero training and provides tangible, immediate benefits.
  4. Control is key – the last thing any company wants is people uploading content into the wrong place or with incorrect tagging. So consider who has this access and think about appointing specific gatekeepers, maybe even a dedicated cybarian. Be careful however not to impose too many restrictions. Users need the flexibility to be able to adapt content for their own purposes, such as localised printing formats.
  5. Visual not just words – marketing content is increasingly picture-based, whether static or moving, so make sure that the strategy and system can handle this kind of content properly, by tagging appropriately.
  6. Connected content – ensure that when a piece of content is accessed, any associated or potentially relevant other assets are also flagged. This is a good way to help surface content that users will find useful and prevent unnecessary duplication.
  7. Know your rights – associate each piece of content with relevant rights within the DAM system, so that all relevant information ‘travels’ with the asset, regardless of where it is downloaded and by whom.
  8. Seek approval – one of the biggest bottlenecks in asset creation and distribution is often getting content approved, so consider incorporating an approval workflow into the digital asset management strategy and system. In this way, identifying who is holding up approval – and why – becomes more transparent.
  9. Old school – not everything is digital, so make sure that the system can encompass offline content too.
  10. End in sight – think about the kind of reports which may need to be created and ensure that the relevant data can be easily extracted. Consider ways in which to measure return-on-investment (for instance, how often an asset is used, in which territories, which marketing materials proved most popular with staff, reduction in unnecessary expenditure, such as asking agencies to re-send content that already exists in the DAM). 

Managing marketing assets has to be a priority for any customer-facing organisation to protect both the brand(s) and employees. Fortunately, getting a better handle on an organisation’s marketing material is not impossible, as long as a combination of cultural support within the organisation, appropriate processes and the right technology are adopted.

Deena Brown is EMEA marketing manager at North Plains.

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