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Earning Trust, Gaining Credibility, and Other Lessons From the 2019 Widen Summit

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Building trust is tricky. And as the saying goes, trust is hard to earn but easy to lose. So what does that have to do with digital asset management (DAM)? A lot!

Each year, the Widen Summit focuses on concepts that are key to DAM success. 

In 2017, we honed in on what it takes to set better goals. Expanding on that in 2018, we learned how to tackle those goals using a strong strategy framework. This year though, we took a step back to realize that in order for people to believe in your goals and strategy, you need to first earn their trust. And this theme carried throughout our three days together — taking center stage in workshops, sessions, and keynotes. 017

Influencing influence

Matthew Gonnering, Widen CEO, opened the eighth annual Summit with a thank you. A thank you to all of the DAM champs throughout the Widen family. DAM isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes champions throughout an organization to build understanding and raise awareness of the value in order to see success. But how? 

Matthew explained that influencing value and change can be broken down into four steps:

  • Know what you want
    Set your sites on something bigger and work together to help each other navigate it. Ask yourself, "What your DAM vision and strategy?"

  • Understand perspective
    Practice active listening, meet the conversation where it's at, and get clarification on what you hear. Ask each other, "How do you understand the perspectives of your user community?"

  • Earn trust
    The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that 75% of people trust their employer to do what’s right. Ask each other, “Who do you trust most in your organization and why?”

  • Build credibility
    Get out into the world to represent your company and build your own personal credibility. Ask yourself, “How do you deliver on your promises?”

But gaining personal credibility has to start somewhere. And it starts with finishing. 

The future belongs to the finishers


Jon Acuff is no stranger to finishing. With six books under his belt, including “Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done,” he’s learned that the hardest part of completing your goal isn’t the beginning or the end, it’s the middle. There’s no celebration in the middle. Or as he puts it, there’s no “middle cake.” And part of the way we build credibility in order to earn trust, is by finishing what we start.

“The goals you don’t finish don’t disappear, they become the ghosts that haunt you. The more you don’t finish your goals, the less people trust you.” — Jon Acuff

So why is it so hard to finish what we set out to do? It’s because we need to set the right goals, Jon explains. Setting the right goals is based on: 

  • Results
  • Actions
  • Timelines
  • Motivation

“Most people are terrible at getting the results and the timeline right; overestimating the results and underestimating the timeline,” Jon reveals. “It’s not actually possible to get more done in less time.” 

When it comes down to it, goals are finished through motivation. Most people are motivated by one of two things: fear or reward. But either way, there needs to be an element of fun along the way to drive motivation. “It’s not about having fun, it’s about making it fun,” Jon says. “You have to be deliberate about adding fun if you want the motivation to finish.” 

When setting your goals, it’s also easy to compare yourself to others and feel shame in what you have and haven’t accomplished. Jon acknowledges that Widen doesn’t pretend that DAM is a full time job for everyone. So you need to choose what matters and what’s impactful. “If you can’t stop it, simplify it,” he advises. 

And don’t let new ideas creep into your current goals. Acknowledge good ideas, but move them off to the side until you finish what you’re working on. “Nothing attracts new ideas like trying to finish the old one.” 

“Starting is fun,” he ends, “but the future belongs to the finishers.” 

Integrations and training come alive during the Best DAM Contest 

The Best DAM Contest is full of participants who’ve definitely finished what they started, and earned their users’ trust. With new stories, new contestants, and new ideas, the competition intensifies each year. This year we brought to the stage four new contestants who did not disappoint!


Robin Brown, Brand Manager at San Francisco International Airport, taught us what it takes to overhaul an underutilized, outdated DAM site and turn it into a trusted source of truth. With a 498% increase in download activity, Robin was crowned “transformation maven” at our Best DAM Contest awards ceremony. 

Vladimir Chen, Senior Product Manager and Experience Lead at 3Shape, needed a better way to distribute their assets. Starting with small-scale proof of concepts, 3Shape used API integrations and a strong taxonomy structure to improve the asset distribution process and decrease the effort needed to source assets. 

Today, the 5,000 assets in their DAM system have over four million embed views between the 3Shape website and custom portals. Thanks to Vladimir and his team, 3Shape DAM users are empowered through regular training and support to find what they need, when they need it. 

Megan Fisher, Digital Marketing Associate at Crayola, credits training as the key to her DAM success. Training 600 new users is no easy feat, but Megan approached it with a plan and a rainbow hat! Thanks to a strong strategy, detailed process, and consistent training, Megan and the Crayola team have increased company-wide productivity by trusting the process and relying on the DAM system as their one-stop shop for over 100,000 Crayola assets. 

Mark Rogotowicz, Digital Architect at Spraying Systems Co., had a dream of creating a single source of truth to serve their many international users. With too many cooks in the kitchen and assets scattered around the globe, Mark turned to integrations, both custom and out-of-the-box, in order to design the DAM system of his dreams when the company implemented the Widen Collective® in 2018. 

Embracing the rule of quality over quantity, Mark and his team use automated tools to keep the DAM clean and provide assets in eight languages to users around the world. It was this use of automation and integrations that won the crowd over, earning him the title of Best DAM at this year’s contest. 

Lessons in trust

Our Best DAM contestants certainly taught us a few things about gaining trust within their organizations. They earned the trust of their users with training, consistent metadata, clear planning, and lots of communication. 

Part of establishing credibility as a DAM admin is by developing your expertise. That’s why we make sure the Summit covers everything from the DAM basics to advanced concepts so there’s always something new to learn. Let’s take a look at some of the lessons we learned at this year’s Summit. 

Tips from the experts

This year’s Widen presenters were eager to share advice about how to help you build trust as a DAM admin. Here are just a few of the lessons they shared:

  • Engage to Expand: Develop Your Engagement Strategy and Grow Your DAM!:
    Feedback is essential for growth, so it’s important to get people involved in the DAM process. How? Frankie Buckle and Caroline Gardner offered up a few suggestions in their session:
      • Send surveys
      • Conduct user interviews
      • Review site analytics
      • Note common pain points during meetings
      • Monitor internal social media
      • Find themes within user questions

  • How to Rethink Metadata Tagging:
    We all know metadata is crucial for DAM searchability but tagging consistency can be a challenge. Nora Gehin and Lauren Pemberton suggest that instead of coming up with a completely new structure immediately, first break it down to identify one gap in your metadata approach and determine what’s causing confusion before brainstorming alternate solutions. Tackling one thing at a time will keep things manageable. 

  • Proving Your Success with Collective Analytics:
    Being able to prove your success is also a great way to establish credibility and earn trust. Michael Orear showed that this starts by asking the right questions. Do you want to understand users’ behavior? View asset activity? Or track performance? You can begin by using: 
      • Widen Collective Insights
      • Data exports
      • Google Analytics
      • User surveys and feedback
  • Training Development and Best Practices:
    It’s clear that training is an important part of a DAM admin’s role, so expert trainers broke down the key things to remember when planning your training: 
      • People learn by doing, not seeing or hearing
      • Create lessons that are narrow and deep, not shallow and wide
      • Have participants show what they can do, don’t just cover information
      • Be proactive, not reactive
      • Incorporate users’ workloads, don’t add to it
      • Focus on what you can do, not what they’re not doing
      • Focus on short-term actions that support the long-term strategy
      • Incorporate social activities, not independent study

Building these into your daily tasks takes time, so don’t try to tackle everything at once. Start small and grow. Change takes time, but you’ve got this!

Tips from the experts

Change your perspective for success

Introducing new concepts or technology also creates change. And as we all know, change is inevitable. You can’t avoid it. You can’t stop it. You have to roll with it and trust that things will be OK — though that’s easier said than done. But what if you choose to look at challenges from a different perspective and ask yourself “what if?”

That’s how Deanna Ballew, Widen VP of Product, encourages you and her team to approach obstacles. 

Keynote speaker and WNDYR CEO, Claire Haidar, echoed the need to adapt in our ever-evolving world of marketing technology (martech) using the #ScienceOfChange, which includes: 

  • Leadership
  • Individuals
  • Process/Systems

“If these three things can all work together at the same time within an organization,” she shares, “that’s when change succeeds.”

And that’s why Widen’s Michael Shattuck, Consulting Manager, and Brooke Emley, Head of Implementation, focused on how to successfully guide teams and users through the five phases of change:

    1. Awareness of the need to change 
    2. Desire to take part in the change
    3. Knowledge of how you’ll work with the change
    4. Ability to do your job in a new way
    5. Reinforcement of the change in an ongoing way

And of course, trust plays a big part in successful change as well. 

Great design is more than just a pretty face

Coming in 2020, our third annual Connectivity Report focuses on visual design. But this year’s Summit attendees got a sneak peek. 

All too often, creative teams around the world get the request to “make this look pretty.” When the request should really be, “can you help me solve this problem?”  

“While it should be pretty, design should solve a problem,” says Jake Athey, VP of Marketing and Customer Experience at Widen.

Of the 293 participants surveyed for this year’s report, 98% believe that quality design builds stronger relationships with an audience. But why is that important?

It’s important because quality design can drive: 

  • More website traffic
  • Higher price points for products and services
  • Positive perception of products and services
  • Team pride

...just to name a few.

With strong visual design, you’re investing in your brand, you’re solving problems, and you’re building trust. 

It’s important to make DAM good friends

Finding people you trust at work is necessary but finding your DAM people is invaluable. That’s why it’s not all about learning. From rock climbing to zoo walks, casino night, and shared meals, new friends are easy to come by when you’re with your DAM people. But most importantly, these connections last the whole year and are a trusted network for support and encouragement as you tackle new ideas and DAM challenges long after the Summit ends.  

DAM Friends

Let’s do it again next year

For eight years, we’ve gathered together to celebrate the amazing Widen customers who trust us with their brand. We love sharing this experience with attendees from all over the world and we can’t wait to do it again next year. 

Save the date and we’ll see you next October!

Topics: Events, Culture & Company, Widen Summit, Best DAM Contest

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