Interview with Meghan Zimmerman
Marketing and Events Coordinator
Business Marketing Association (BMA) Chicago
Associations need to focus their marketing efforts on specific activities in order to build awareness of who they are and bolster membership. These activities can range from sharing membership benefits, attracting sponsors, highlighting industry events, and promoting the services they offer. The more organized associations are with their marketing efforts, the more effective their communications can be, and the greater chance they stand of attracting the right members and sponsors – those who understand the value of being aligned with a certain association and will act as evangelists to draw more members and sponsors.
Take the Business Marketing Association, for example. It’s the premier association for business-to-business marketing professionals in the US today. It began in 1922 as the National Industrial Advertising Association and now has more than 2,200 members in 22 chapters throughout the US. Each chapter has a unique set of stakeholders to serve, and at different levels, so effective marketing is crucial in reaching them with timely and meaningful information.
Today, we talked with Meghan Zimmerman, the Marketing and Events Coordinator for the BMA’s Chicago chapter. She is a master marketer in the making and a customer of Widen’s digital asset management software. According to Meghan, there are great benefits for associations to gain from embracing digital asset management in their marketing workflows.
How long have you been using Widen’s digital asset management system (the Media Collective)?
A little over a year.
What kinds of digital files does the BMA create and who do you share them with?
Most of our files are event related. We have speaker decks, photos taken at our events, audio, and video. Right now, the main people using the DAM system and sharing the digital files are our executive director and me. I keep things on Widen’s DAM system that our Executive Director and I both need to access. For example, creative files for the Tower awards and any files that are way too big for us to keep on our computers. I also transfer files to Widen DAM that we’re going to need at a later date, but are not using right now. Soon we’d like to invite vendors to upload files. Vendors are sending things to me right now, but I’m working on teaching them a system to upload files themselves. We’d also like members to be able to login to access event content and the white papers and articles that we’ll be creating.
What do you, personally, use the digital asset management system for?
I use it mostly for managing our files, but I also use it to send files to other people. Rather than using a service like WeTransfer or TransferBigFiles, I send them off to the people who need them right through the Media Collective, which has been hugely helpful. We have post event reports and I can select all of the files related to the event (decks and audio) that people need and send them a pickup link. They get it all in one place, at one time, and it’s easy to download.
I do all the tagging and naming of the images in our DAM system, too.
Faceted Search Results View of the BMA Digital Asset Library
As an association, what are the biggest communication challenges you face?
Our biggest challenge is that we’re volunteer-based – we have a lot of people in a lot of different areas who are all working remotely. Sharing information with everyone can be very difficult and sharing files in particular can be pain the butt, especially with big files. It’s hard to keep people in the loop and let them know that they have everything they need. Especially because we have a lot of volunteers! The Executive Director and I also work remotely, so even keeping us on the same page, and making sure we have everything we need, can be challenging.
What about challenges with your digital assets?
I’d say keeping our digital assets organized and making sure that everyone can find everything is a challenge. Especially with volunteers, because their time is limited and they need to know where a file is and find it quickly. Otherwise, they get frustrated and don’t want to waste their time working on something for the BMA.
What have you found most useful about the Media Collective?
It’s a single place to keep all of our files and we can search for anything. I can send files directly from the Media Collective to others. I know the files get to the people I’m sending them to because I can see it right there in the system, meaning I don’t have to keep track of everything. Plus, our important files are not just living on my computer or the Executive Director’s computer anymore, they’re in one place where we both have access. When I took this role, everything (all of our digital assets) was on the Executive Director’s laptop, not even on a backup hard drive. Scary! So, we backed up everything on a hard drive and then transferred everything to the Media Collective. We even tagged it all, so it’s searchable.
As an association, what is the biggest benefit digital asset management has brought to the BMA Chicago?
By far, organization. And, the transparency of what we have. A lot of people keep their files on their own computers, but being able to show others what we have is really important. Someone else in the association could have a great use for the files in our DAM system that we haven’t thought of and they can repurpose our digital files accordingly. It saves so much time not having to search different computers and folders for files myself and email them to people. I know that people can go into the DAM system and find what they’re looking for on their own.
What would you tell other associations about digital asset management - those who aren’t currently using a system now?
I would say what are you waiting for??
One piece of advice is to organize the DAM system, from the beginning, the way you want to continue it. Tag and name your files right away and you’ll be good to go from the start. Think about how other people are going to use the system, too. Members and those who aren’t part of the association are likely to search differently for the files. Talk to them, see what they’re looking for. I think about events, titles and dates, but they might be thinking of speaker names or lunch.