Those DAM CMS, MRM, and other asset management acronyms

…or: “Hey Marketer, save yourself some headaches with an asset management tool”

Slalom Marketing Solutions Architect Michele Grant

Michele Grant is a Marketing Solutions Architect with Slaloms Atlanta office. She is passionate about creating integrated, multi-channel marketing strategies that take advantage of the latest in marketing automation and resource management technologies.

We start with a common problem, one that everyone in marketing has encountered, whether you’re an interactive marketer, brand manager, VP of Marketing, social media intern, or creative director: someone’s upset about collateral.

Maybe it’s an in-store piece with inconsistent product messaging. Maybe it’s an email with an incorrect discount percentage. Or field sales using brochures from two years ago (because they like them better). Or packaging that’s gone off the reservation in terms of adhering to brand standards. Whatever it is, guaranteed someone is upset about it. As well they should be! This marketing and branding stuff is serious business!

So what do you do? You probably have some tools that you use, like branding and style guides, agency onboarding kits, some type of asset repository, and maybe even product or program approved copy decks. And you most likely have some processes. You know who needs to see what, who has approval power, how to kick off a new request for collateral, etc. But you’re still having issues; important people aren’t reviewing messaging before it’s in market, copy, images, colors are inconsistent, deadlines are being pushed and you’re drowning in endless rounds of revisions.

When faced with these challenges, the ensuing discussions invariably bring up the following terms: Digital Asset Management (DAM), Content Management System (CMS), Marketing Resource Management (MRM), and maybe workflow automation, integrated or enterprise or distributed marketing management, or campaign management. What does it all mean, what does it do, and how are these things different from each other?

For those who do have this issue and would like to address it: let’s make two distinct buckets, the first of which we will call asset management. DAM, CMS, and MRM fall into the asset management category. The second bucket is marketing management, and anything that deals with end-to-end management of marketing efforts, including tracking ROI and managing the overall customer experience, contact policy and coordinating marketing across channel, falls into this bucket. Asset management tools are typically one portion of a marketing management suite of solutions.

We’ll assume your organization is specifically looking to address issues with marketing assets, and isn’t quite ready to tackle the broader issue of marketing management. For many organizations, asset management tools become the gateway for change across the marketing organization that spills over into holistic change and the need for marketing management solutions.

There’s a tool for every job, and it’s almost a job in and of itself to determine which tool is the right one for the job you have in mind. Here’s a list (no, it is not exhaustive) of some typical challenges you may need your asset management tool to help you overcome:

  • Store and search a variety of assets, including images and their associated rights and usage, finalized collateral, video or audio content, logos, fonts, etc.
  • House and allow shared access to documents, collateral, images, and copy that are going to be reused or published across multiple mediums or locations.
  • Manage the production and approval of marketing assets through a centralized process.

The distinction between the different types of asset management tools is blurry and becoming even more so with the ability to tailor solutions with collaborations between solutions vendors and their myriad specialized tools. Many marketers use these terms interchangeably, but they do have distinct differences and understanding those differences is the key to selecting the correct tool or tools for your needs. This post is a bare overview, not an exhaustive discourse on the pros and cons of any of these tools (Slalom does have technical experts in many of these fields if you’d like to get into the weeds with the super technical aspects of each option). Having made that disclaimer, in general, DAM, CMS, and MRM solutions address our above listed challenges like this:

  • DAM: the solution for storage, categorization, and searching assets. Usually robust enough to handle the highest resolution of all assets and an enormous amount of metadata. The DAM is where you would store any type of asset, from logos, brand imagery, and photos to completed assets like brochures, in store displays, packaging layouts, and marketing emails. You may even choose to store drafts of various creative so that you could go back and reference it in the future. All assets should be marked with a variety of tags or metadata that indicate everything from the date of creation, agency that developed it, where it was or should be used, and a variety of keywords that describe the creative, copy, and purpose of the asset.
  • CMS: you’ve probably heard this term most often in conjunction with managing content for your website(s), but it can be more than or different from that. Store content for use in any medium and make content creation and collaboration accessible to a variety of users. CMS tools most likely contain some type of production workflow and asset approval processes. The CMS stores images for use as a component in a webpage or document, and it’s the place to store copy, especially copy that will be used in a variety of locations and/or mediums. For example, you may store copy and imagery related to a promotion that will be used on your website, in an email campaign, and sent to affiliates or partners for their use. Or you may store your product information in your CMS and use it to supply product content to both your ecommerce website and your mobile application.
  • MRM: the production workhorse of the trio. MRM solutions typically manage the planning, design, and production of assets (in a variety of formats), along with managing the human resources needed to complete tasks. Often utilized by marketing operations groups and frequently used as part of workflow automation solutions. A few years ago, Marketing Resource Management was the term many marketing management tool vendors were using to describe their solutions, but MRM is only a small component of what is now being called Marketing Operations, which can be a component of an EMM (Enterprise Marketing Management) platform. It’s sometimes helpful to compare MRM and Marketing Operations like this: MRM helps drive the process that results in a creative asset, whether it be a tangible asset (like a POP display) or a digital asset (like a promotion landing page design), usually involving an agency or creative department, and Marketing Operations can have an MRM component or workflow, but may also involve process larger than just creating an asset. For example, Marketing Operations tools can manage all of the steps needed to put a multi-channel promotional campaign into market, including managing the process needed to get promotion codes set up, request a list pull for an email, create a new direct mail piece, and sending notifications to store sales associates.

Beyond selecting the correct tool, or suite of tools, determining how to implement them will be part of the challenge. Think about your objectives; what are you trying to accomplish? Reduce costs? Gain efficiency? Reduce time to market? Scale up asset production? Enforce adherence to processes, procedures, and guidelines? Each objective or set of objectives will help act as a guide post for every decision you make during this process.

Have you been through this process and have insight to share? Are you thinking about selecting an asset management tool and want more guidance? Do you have one of these issues or a variation and need some help getting started? Leave a comment and we’ll let you know what we think!

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About Michele Grant
Michele Grant is a Marketing Solutions Architect with Slalom Consulting in Atlanta. She's passionate about creating integrated, multi-channel marketing strategies that take advantage of the latest in marketing automation and resource management technologies.

One Response to Those DAM CMS, MRM, and other asset management acronyms

  1. What is the main Function of interims management?

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