Digital Asset Management is like a performance enhancing drug.

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Dear Dr. DAM…Is digital asset management a performance-enhancer?  Yes.  Would you prescribe digital asset management for a marketing organization with a widespread network of sales representatives and external selling channels?  Yes again.  

With all of the hoopla in the news about the Mitchell Report and the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball, I thought it might be the appropriate time to talk about the side-effects of digital asset management for one particular group of end-users: the sales rep.   


The sales rep (whether an internal employee or external selling channel e.g. distributor, dealer, etc.) is in the trenches, face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder with your customers.  Unlike mass communication, the sales rep is the one using your digital media to give presentations, make sales calls and hold meetings directly with the people buying your product or service.  


Since they are the group of people making the one-to-one contact with your customers and serve as the face to your organization, you hope, train, and provide resources to that person so they are empowered to flawlessly represent your company and your brand – right? 


On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important:  How important is it that your sales reps and selling channels effectively represent your brand and your product / service according to the goals and brand standards of your organization?  Who wouldn’t say 10? 


On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best:  How well does marketing support your sales reps and selling channels (to effectively represent your brand and your product / service according to the goals and brand standards of your organization) by providing the training, tools and resources to do so?  Regardless of your score, there’s likely room for improvement. 


Enter DAM.  Digital Asset Management has long been a practice or solution for the publishing, broadcast and entertainment industries and until the last few years, had not been as popular with marketing organizations and brand owners.  Marketing organizations and brand owners have come to realize brand is everything and the feet-on-the-street are an extension of the brand.  Therefore, digital asset management has grown in popularity because organizations with widespread marketing networks and sales channels have sought out more efficient means to manage and distribute digital media than burning and shipping CDs or putting images out on the website.  CDs are slow and the website is risky, in addition to a variety of other limitations.   


Salespeople use presentations, images, logos, audio, video, PDF brochures and a combination of it all throughout the sales cycle.  They oftentimes customize the presentations or brochures to fit the situation.  They work under tight timelines and at all hours of the day…and they like to take shortcuts.  They’re not afraid to take a lo-res logo off of the internet and put it in a print piece or build their own brochure to their liking.  It might make you – the marketer / protector of the brand – cringe, but to a salesperson it doesn’t matter.  


Your selling channels are much the same way.  Your distributors, dealers, branches, franchisees, etc. all need your digital media and they need it customized for their market.  They love to use your “official” product images, logos and other collateral because it helps them stand out.  How well do you – the marketer – enforce your brand and what’s current to all of your selling channels further down the chain?  You likely see some stuff that is quite out-dated.   


According to Sirius Decisions, a market research firm,  sales reps spend a large percentage of their time on preparation and administrative tasks, including redundant creation and customization of sales tools.  Research from Sirius Decisions breaks it down showing that sales reps spend 21% of their time on preparation and 10% of their time on administrative activities.  The other 69% of their time is spent on education (3%), account research (18%), phone calls (30%) and face to face calls (18%).  A sales rep spending 30% of their time on redundant creation and customization of sales tools is an awful lot of lost time from performing actual sales activities.  If you could reduce that amount of time by half, you could get that much more productivity out of your sales reps and ideally see higher closing percentages – right?  


Digital asset management (in Widen’s world) is so easy a sales rep will use it.  It gives sales reps and channel partners self-service anytime, anywhere access to repurpose corporate-approved digital media within the sales tools (presentations, emails and printed collateral).  Digital asset management helps ensure their using the most current “assets” within branding guidelines and usage rights.  Ultimately, DAM is like a drug (a good drug)… If you can get your sales reps using your digital asset management system – they’ll like it and then continue to use it because it’s the simplest and fastest way to get to your professional sales tools.  


Marketing reaps the benefits of global brand consistency at a local level, while reducing their own time spent on redundant admin tasks (but I’ll save that for another post.)


Would Dr. DAM prescribe digital asset management to enhance the performance for the players in the field?  I think you know the answer… 


Widen looks at digital asset management as a sales enablement tool.  That’s why we created the ad & brochure building application allowing sales channels to build custom printable collateral from a menu of marketing templates and content.  Furthermore, we’ve brought the power of digital asset management and brochure building closer to the salesforce community by integrating with the Salesforce.com CRM platform via the Appexchange.   


That’s enough from me – listen to what a few of Widen’s customers have to say… 


View the clips from two of our video interviews on the topic of digital asset management and sales enablement: 


Michele Bedard, Vice President of Marketing for Sub-Zero/Wolf


Doug Rammel, Vice President, Information Systems, Technology and Integration Operations for Adidas / Reebok Sports Licensed Division


Later on, will discuss the impact of digital asset management upstream with marketing and creative personnel.

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