July 30, 2015
Digital Asset Management for Creative Agencies
Important? Or Super Important?
The other day, I was talking to a friend who works at a full-service marketing agency that provides a range of services—from website design to brochures to presentations to videos and beyond. Everyone works from home, so collaboration tools are imperative. Infrastructure-wise, they use iChat, WebEx, Salesforce, Hubspot, and a time/version tracking system from IBM. But they do not use a digital asset management system (DAM).
She’s been frustrated by the wall of denial surrounding the obvious benefits of DAM—particularly the resistance from design. “I think they believe implementing something like this will be a painful transition; they don’t want a new layer of technology to get in their way.”
“In their defense, the systems we have in place were not easy to implement. We use IBM’s Marketing Central—a system not exactly designed for designers—to route files for review, but not to store. For that, we use Box, and organize by project numbers automatically assigned by Marketing Central. Numbers that have no context or meaning.”
She continues, “I can’t tell you the number of times a seemingly benign request like, ‘Can you send me this widget in jpg format’ turns into an epic search. I may know the client’s name, or the date we did the project, neither of which is helpful when our projects are stored by random numbers and contain no metadata.”
Unfortunately, it gets worse.
“I’m certain we’ve purchased images more than once. We have a huge library of assets (images, illustrations, widgets, project files, etc.) and no intuitive way to search them. It’s actually cheaper to search for something on iStock and buy it again than it is try to track it down in our system.”
This email conversation was killing my soul. And she had only mentioned two of the reasons why digital asset management is important for creative agencies. Super important.
Without DAM, creative agencies (who are under constant pressure to improve profit margins) simply cannot get the most value out of their resources. Does a DAM solution cost money? Yes. But, does not implementing one cost more? Yes, yes, a thousand-times yes.
So let’s break down the key benefits of DAM solutions for creative agencies, basically better use of resources and improved client experience.
Better use of resources:
- Efficiency—Find the right asset, right when you need it. Good DAM systems integrate seamlessly into your workflow, use a visual library to display your assets, offer drag and drop functionality, and work with your existing folders, file servers, and creative applications. By some estimates, a DAM solution saves 2.5 hours per resource, per week. Less internal churn, plus more billable hours? Yes, please!
- Effectiveness—Rights management lets you organize files according to usage rights, brand guidelines, correct versioning and more. This also allows you to eliminate redundancy – no more buying images twice (*shudder*).
- Empowered Team—From designer to production to marketing and beyond, everyone who needs to find files can, allowing your resources to focus on their actual jobs.
Improved client experience:
- Shorter Time to Market/Improved Quality—This one speaks a little to the above – with an empowered, efficient team, you’ll be able to get your work to clients faster and have more time to focus on higher quality work.
- Better Account Management—With a DAM solution, account managers can easily find all related files for a project, and with the right metadata fields, you can even sort by client or company name, making the client request, “Can you send me a jpg of the widget in this PDF large enough for a Powerpoint?” a pleasure to fulfill.
- Client Access to Project Resources—Some DAM solutions allow you to create sites for clients, providing access to images, logos, source files, whatever they might need. For small and large agencies in a crowded market, this is a valuable differentiator.
In short, it just makes good business-sense for creative agencies to use a DAM, and an even more powerfully convincing Return on Investment (that’s business-speak for ya). If you haven’t tried out the DAM Learning Center ROI calculator, you should. It breaks it all down and quantifies the impact of DAM. When my friend used the calculator – entering conservative numbers – her annual cost to not implement DAM was $47,846.
I’m pretty sure her break-even point happens by simply considering a DAM solution. Which is exactly what her team is (finally) doing.
If you’re a creative agency and have any additional advice for my friend, or your own stories to share—let us know in the comments below.