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Widen’s 2015 Marketing Content Tour

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Want a more visual experience?

Check out our lookbook from the 2015 Marketing Content Tour on SlideShare.

Content marketing is the big buzz right now and every organization is trying to figure out how much – and what kind of – effort to put against it. Because doing it right takes effort. As marketers, how do we create and curate content of high value and high interest? Content that will make people take action and draw a return for our business?


Part of Widen’s content strategy is to learn from our customers. What content do they like? How do they want to consume and connect content? What kind of content is important to them? And what more can we do to help them connect their content?

So we hit the east coast by plane, train and automobile to meet with six of our awesome customers in person. This is the story of how we learned more about who they are, the amazing ways they’re utilizing the Widen Media Collective, and how they can help us improve upon the great things we’re doing with our software and service. 

DAY 1: Go east during Snowmaggedon?

Madison airport

Depart Madison

It’s Tuesday, January 27th. Reportedly the worst day in history to travel out east. But to my surprise, the flight from Madison, Wisconsin to Syracuse, New York (with one stop in Detroit) went off without a hitch. No drama, no delays, and great flights for both legs of the trip.

Upon arriving in Syracuse, the first thing I noticed was sunshine. After living under a perpetual cloud of darkness in Wisconsin, the blue sky was a great reprieve. And an unexpected one, too, given the weather predictions. So to “Snowmageddon 2015” I say, peeshaw! (Of course, if I was in Boston right now I might not feel so bold).

I’m visiting the east coast for Widen’s inaugural marketing content customer tour. We’re interviewing six different customers about how our technologies help connect their marketing content and solve their marketing problems. I’m joined by the awesome Al Falaschi from Widen’s marketing team. I think we should get t-shirts with the towns we visited, the dates, and everything. Al’s in a band, so I’m sure he’d appreciate that.

At the heart of this content tour is Widen’s desire to better understand our customers – their workflow challenges, marketing goals and activities, preferences for consuming content, desired system functionality, and personalities and interests. It’s not about Widen, it’s truly about them as we make 2015 the year of the customer story.

Al’s already talked with the marketing teams at COTY and Teach for America, who shared great feedback about their use of our DAM system, the Media Collective. They also gave their reactions to our updated UI and latest system release. Al flew into Manhattan on Sunday, just in time for the Snowmageddon chaos (people freaking out, offices closing, buses putting chains on their tires), but he was lucky enough to train it to Syracuse a day early and escape New York City before the big shut down.

This afternoon, Al edited video footage and I got settled in at The Genesee Grande Hotel. It’s a beautiful place, close to Syracuse University, with all kinds of old New England charm.

Syracuse hotel

Then we hit the Dinosaur Barbecue for dinner – a recommendation from my cab driver. Outwardly, it appears to be a run down biker bar, but inside is an eclectic mix of artwork, music, food and people. The ribs and pulled pork were amazing. 

Nina Al selfie BBQ

Al and I enjoyed the two guys with their guitars who kicked out a great range of classic 70s songs. Apparently Bill Clinton used to frequent the place in his younger days when visiting Syracuse. Which felt very full circle since the Clinton Foundation is a Widen digital asset management customer, too!

Tomorrow morning we head to Gaylord– a supplier of library furniture and archival solutions and a wonderful user of the Media Collective. More to share after we visit Gaylord!

DAY 2: On the loose in Syracuse

Gaylord sign in and out

Our visit to Gaylord Brothers was everything we hoped. Not only were the people incredibly nice and hospitable, but the marketing team was very forthcoming about what the Media Collective does for their organization. They also shared great feedback about our people, solutions, and service. We interviewed Kate Akasha, MaryBeth Fiorentino, and Heather Goodnow from their marketing team. 

Heather and MaryBeth

Gaylord office


Gaylord is a great example of how the Media Collective can fit organizations both big and small. Gaylord only has 10 users, but they experience the same brand asset challenges as businesses with thousands of users – being able to find assets when they need them, organizing their assets in a central location that’s accessible to the right people, and easily sharing assets anytime, anywhere.

The business efficiencies they’ve seen as a result of investing in the Media Collective have already exceeded the cost. Making use of a DAM system has also helped them approach their marketing content in a new way – they now create an asset once, save the master asset in the Media Collective, and publish that master asset in multiple locations so it can be updated automatically. Gone are their days of creating and recreating an asset for each communication vehicle they use. This approach saves their team hours of time and promotes brand consistency. Which is incredibly important for Gaylord right now because they just launched a major brand update.

Gaylord collateral 4

COMING SOON: A video with everything Gaylord’s e-commerce marketing manager, Kate Akasha, had to say about the Media Collective.

After capturing great video footage, multiple interviews, and tons of photos, we left Gaylord to catch a train to Toronto. I’m riding the Amtrak train now. As we plug away past Niagara falls, Buffalo and Rochester, I can’t help but notice that the New York countryside bears a striking resemblance to our own beautiful countryside in Wisconsin. (Just not as many taverns or cheese outlets!)

Syracuse countryside

train ride 2

I’ll share more from Toronto after we interview Sheridan College!

DAY 3: Out and about (“aboot”) in the GTA

I wish we had more time to explore the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). We arrived last night when it was already dark and today was a whirlwind of activity before heading to the airport. Hopefully we’ll be back. And hopefully to spend more time at Sheridan College. What a cool place and a great group of people. Stewart Dick, Britta Charbonneau, Jennifer Clarke and Danielle Giles were great hosts.

Sheridan outside with S

Sheridan _group walk in hall

Sheridan _Jennifer

Sheridan_Stewart and Al

Sheridan College is an almost 50 year-old undergraduate university with a reputation for creativity and innovation, and you can feel it as soon as you arrive on site. The Ontario campus is unique in and of itself. It has grown in pieces over the years with many buildings having a different look, size, and material. Then there are the people. In every building, we came across theater, fine art, and research students who filled the school with an air of innovation. And their Alumni are doing great things too – three of the five animated films nominated for Oscars this year (How to Train Your Dragon, The Box Trolls, and Big Hero 6) were directed by animators who studied at Sheridan!

So it’s no surprise that the marketing team consists of smart, talented, and interesting people who make use of the Media Collective for a greater creative purpose. After all, that’s what they’re tasked with day in and day out – creating communications for the internal and external world (email, brochures, press releases, web pages, newsletters and more).

Sheridan College started using the Media Collective in January of 2014. Since then, they’ve not only gained huge efficiencies as a team, but they also have visibility into all of their marketing assets. That means the groups who need Sheridan’s digital assets can see everything available to them and easily access what they want, when they want. In turn, they can also see what they don’t have and are able to identify new assets or content that needs to be created. Several groups are using the Media Collective from Alumni, to the Faculty for Professional Studies, to Career Education.

Most importantly, Stewart Dick – the Senior Designer for Sheridan’s marketing team – got his life back. No longer the gatekeeper of all Sheridan’s marketing assets, he is able to again focus time on designing and working creatively with his team. No more sourcing images for everyone and reacting to logo requests from the staff and media.

Like Gaylord, Sheridan went through a recent brand update. The Media Collective has made sharing the new brand assets so much easier and has given Stewart a sense of relief regarding brand consistency. 

Sheridan materials

The more we speak with our customers, the more we’re learning that it’s not one BIG thing about the Media Collective that’s changing their lives. It’s a combination of many small things that are enabling them to have more time (for family or to get important work done), feel more connected (with immediate and extended teams and to assets they didn’t know they had) and feel more in control (over visibility of assets and deploying content at a moment’s notice to anyone, anywhere).

In a business world where organizations can easily let people and processes become decentralized and disorganized, the Media Collective is serving as a catalyst to unite people, teams, and processes. And that’s pretty great.

Time to sign off. We’re now boarding a small prop plane, with 15 others, in a snow storm bound for Pittsburgh!

COMING SOON: A video about the great things Sheridan College is doing with the Media Collective, featuring Stewart Dick.


DAY 4: The last stop

Centria office

After taxing on the runway for over an hour, our tiny plane took off and flew us safely to Pittsburgh, PA for our final customer interview with Centria. Pittsburgh is the snowiest city on our tour, but that hasn’t stopped the folks at Centria from getting to work.

Centria provides wall and roof system designs for architects and contractors, which means their products are used in or on buildings. So product photography is an incredibly important part of their marketing communications, advertising, PR, and sales materials. At Centria, we had the pleasure of talking with Julie Pawuk, Chelsea Romme, Andrew Hardman, and Hannah Snyder – all members of the marketing team.

Centria_ Julie and Chelsea

Centria Hannah

Centria employee group shot

Before using the Media Collective, their team had tens of thousands of photos living on personal computers, CDs, and in paper file folders. If someone needed a product shot, it took days to find photos and even more time to scan, upload to email, and send them without crashing servers. They also lost their digital assets once when a designer’s laptop was stolen – the laptop that happened to store almost all of their product photos! Though their IT team was able to retrieve most of the assets from a backup drive, the close call was a wake up call. What was the actual price tag for the time, labor, and emotional investment behind all of those digital assets? 

A year after implementing the Media Collective, the Centria marketing team is feeling the benefits of efficiencies they couldn’t have foreseen. Their workflow has been streamlined and automated like a finely tuned machine resulting in more team interaction, more control over rights management, and improved collaboration with their sales team and ad agencies. They’re also making use of the online proofing tool we integrate with, ProofHQ, where files can be routed and reviewed online, then saved in the Media Collective with all comments in tact. And they’re loving it (sorry, McDonald's). The team anticipates even more team collaboration because everyone has more ideas for using the DAM system. They especially like our updated UI that is cleaner, simpler, and even easier to use.

COMING SOON: A video with Centria’s DAM administrator, Chelsea, where she shares details about how they’re using the Media Collective to manage and connect their content.

And that’s a wrap. Mission accomplished, so we’re going back home to Madison, Wisconsin. We’ve had a great week spending time with these talented and creative people, seeing their businesses in person, and understanding their marketing challenges and successes first hand. 

back to madison

Al and I captured so much great content that we’ll probably spend the next month sifting through it all to share with the Widen Community. I can’t wait to collect more customer stories, so keep an eye out for new Widen DAMsters interviews!

To see ALL the great marketing content Widen creates, visit our Resource Library on

Topics: Customer Stories, Content, Marketing

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