Getting to know Widen employee Jake Athey – Aspiring marketing technologist, growth hacker, storyteller, transformer

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Around here, Jake is the man behind the green curtain. Reserved and humble, he’s the engine that keeps the sales and marketing team aligned, pushes initiatives forward, and makes sure we’re all in the know about the latest trends and opportunities in the marketing technology industry. 

So how did he arrive at Widen?

Jake went to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, with an interest in engineering, business, and marketing. He eventually chose marketing thanks to a brilliant professor who showed him he could build bridges in business and marketing... it was just more about people and technology than metal and concrete. 

Once he finished school, he took an internship at Widen where he’s embraced the leadership philosophy, the vision, and culture of experimentation. He finds the integrity demonstrated by our CEO, and other leaders, is still amplified today, which makes it a fantastic place to be.

Jake Athey Interview Photos

Climbing instruction at Boulders, Widen Summit selfie with Nina, and making the holiday video.

1. What's involved in your role at Widen as the Director of Marketing?
At Widen, I wear many hats and love the environment where we can do a dozen meaningful things at once and work with many different, talented people. But my focus is really in four areas.

1. Helping current and future Widen customers better understand how Widen can help them solve their problems.

2. Connecting people, processes, and technologies to help Widen reach thousands of current and future customers.

3. Helping to educate internal staff on current happenings in marketing and marketing technology so we can better solve marketing technology problems.

4. Evangelizing Widen’s deliverables and learnings across all customer touchpoints – from live events to digital interfaces, as a way to share how we’re helping organizations of all sizes to be better visual communicators.


2. What are some of the challenges you face when marketing a complex product like DAM? How do you handle them? What approach do you take with your team?

Great set of questions here... I love working through challenges.

  • Like many marketing technologies, we’re part of a constant priority battle among the dozens of priorities marketers, creatives, technologists and executives are juggling at all times. It’s even more exciting when champions from these different areas get together. Believe me, we relate.
  • We’re helping marketing and creative teams who desire the ability to be stronger and more agile overcome legacy systems and processes.
  • We overcome the priority challenge by consistently finding ways to engage across all levels and touchpoints to show champions better ways to do things and how they can benefit their own careers, teams and organizational outcomes.
  • We do our best by collecting and sharing many great customer stories and connect customers and future customers with proof, lessons learned, best practices and shared experiences that allow all customers to evangelize what we’re doing.
  • Our team is thoughtful, truthful, respectful, creative, and consistent in how we connect with current and future customers and that’s the approach I prefer to take with them and others.

3. Widen claims to power the content that builds your brand. What does that mean? 

You’re going to get the answer from the marketer in me – it means that we help marketing and creative teams (and the groups they serve) to be brand ambassadors by connecting their marketing content with the people, processes and tools that create stronger customer connections.

We also provide the tools and services that help marketing and creative teams work better, faster and stronger. In simple terms, we help our customers better manage all of the digital “stuff” that represents their brand and turn it into profitable customer action. It’s like being a big Play-Doh fun factory.

We help organizations of all sizes realize wise investments in their digital content and brand assets. You know, pictures, and movies, and stuff like that.

4. What things make Widen different or unique as a company? And what uniqueness trickles into their products/services as a result?

We’re a different kind of technology company. Of course, we have to be different in order to thrive after 66 years of being in business. We’ve consciously evolved to keep up with the demands of the market and to move towards being a marketing technology company.

It may sound cliché, but we’re different because of our people and culture. It’s very real and you can feel it when you’re an employee or immersed in it as a customer. Just ask any customer who has joined us at our annual Widen Summit. Our people genuinely care about the customers we serve and the promise we make to them of providing an enjoyable customer experience – whatever product they’re using. 

We’re delivering a memorable experience that they will tell their colleagues, boss, and perhaps even their friends and family about because they sense the connection intellectually and emotionally. Every Widen employee, customer-facing or not, takes pride in delivering on this promise.

Our cultural traits are on the wall. Everyone believes in these and we consistently welcome our current and future customers to join us in experiencing these characteristics. 

Widen Cultural Traits

Widen Cultural Traits On the Lobby Wall

As a result of these shared traits, our teams know how to develop products and solutions that work to solve real marketing and creative problems. And, when we miss the mark, we learn from our failures, involve customers, and create something new that works better. We have plenty of experience with failure, too.


5. What is the connection between DAM and content and how does Widen add value when it comes to marketing content?

I’ll save the debate for “What’s the difference between assets and content?” for another blog post coming soon, but I love this connection. In short, my take is that assets make up market-ready content because they’re made complete with context. For many of our customers, asset libraries are 75% photo-based and roughly 10% video, 10% documents and 5% other. Therefore the majority of the contents of their DAM system are assets in absence of context. When coupled with brand and/or story, assets have context and therefore are completed content. Content that connects with customers and profitable action are digital business assets and these often live in “the DAM” as well. Again, it’s a worthy debate and blog post of its own.

Widen’s mission is to connect marketing content by delivering tools and services that:

  • Create and capture new content that marketers can use in connecting with their customers
  • Manage and organize existing content so the growing libraries of digital assets can be managed more efficiently
  • Share and distribute relevant content to speed time-to-market and utilize all channels to connect with customers
  • Analyze and track successful content so marketers know what assets and content works best in connecting with customers and driving profitable customer action so they can set up better repeatable processes at all levels.


DAM is key to delivering the digital media and branded content assets that interface with customers across all people, technologies, and processes part of the customer journey. (Drink!) 

DAM is the combined tools, processes and knowledge for capturing, organizing, sharing and analyzing content across the content lifecycle. DAM helps creatives to organize and repurpose new and existing assets. DAM helps marketers to publish, share and analyze assets that connect with current and future customers. DAM even helps aggregate the most authentic form of branded content available – user generated content. In the right context and quality, these assets can be real gems for marketers! DAM helps salespeople more confidently represent the products and services they sell, service people help customers be more satisfied, and trainers provide more meaningful learning environments. Why? Because digital assets foster greater engagement and connection to the brand. 

In virtually every customer interaction today, content plays a part. From stories that attract to collateral that is left behind, digital assets make-up that content. With context, it has meaning at all ends to the marketer / distributor and consumer. (This is also where the power of metadata comes to into play. Metadata empowers assets with context, meaning and purpose.)

In short, we help marketing and creative teams do more and get more value from their marketing content and brand assets. In turn, they build stronger connections between the brand and customer experience. That’s value we’re providing. It’s kind of like going to the Zoo or the Field Museum and putting a penny in that machine that turns Abe Lincoln into an orangutan or T-Rex. That’s something you hold on to!


6. Where do you see that connection going in the next few years and what does that mean the way you market your products/services?

The connection between DAM, content and marketing is getting bigger, stronger, more real and becoming more of a strategic necessity realized across all levels within today’s modern marketing organization. 

Marketing-driven content and brand assets will continue to be a huge part of experiences across all phases of the customer lifecycle.

We’re in the era of the omni-channel customer experience. And, with a little help from Wikipedia, brands big and small must take a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available channels. 

What does that mean for Widen? We need to keep innovating in our product, delivering the best possible customer experience in our service, and telling great customer stories in our marketing. We’ve got the confidence and track record to help customers embrace this challenge!

Enough with the reading and writing… let’s have a chat. Tweet me! @JakeAthey

Topics: Culture & Company

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