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Selling DAM Systems – It’s All About Trust And Understanding

by Ralph Windsor on July 22, 2013

One of our featured DAM Vendors, Picturepark, have recently re-vamped their website and added a number of information oriented articles.  We have fairly robust editorial guidelines (as some might have noticed!) and covering website revamps would typically get filed under the ‘no chance’ classification.  What they have done, however, is noteworthy for the information content and approach taken:

We spent some time looking at other websites, in particular the websites of other DAM vendors. Some were nicer than others, but all seemed to have one thing in common: They were primarily about selling DAM software. They were designed to benefit DAM vendors but not the DAM community. This inspired us to do something different. We’ve designed the new Picturepark website from the perspective of you, the visitor. We’ve included useful resources for people learning about digital asset management, and we’ve included some resources for DAM experts too.” [Read More]

One point I should make here is that they didn’t blast this at us via bulk emails or send begging emails to ask us to feature their content, we just found it ourselves and thought it looked useful.  There are a variety of  articles (which are all essentially vendor neutral) including:

We probably should give Picturepark a harder time than we do, but right now, their marketing output doesn’t give us much opportunity.  Part of the remit of DAM News is to draw attention to good material about DAM – which they have provided here.  They probably won’t like me for saying this, but other vendors, take note: this is what you’re supposed to do.  It no doubt helps Picturepark’s cause having David Diamond, author of the DAM Survival Guide as Marketing Director, but even without that considerable benefit, most vendors who genuinely know what they are talking about should be able to write some content that imparts their knowledge without pushing their wares in every sentence.

DAM systems are ‘considered purchases’ – i.e. the buyers need to spend time deliberating and making their minds up.  This means they will be getting to know their vendor before handing over a contract (let alone cash) because they want to be sure they can trust them.  You can’t force that impression, the trust has to be earned.

I would have to agree with the observations in the quote above.  Reading many DAM vendor websites is a bit like watching excerpts from North Korean state television broadcasts, there’s loads of stuff about how amazing they are but it’s all about them and how wonderful their product is.  A few have customer success stories, but in context of the other material it gives the impression they might be rigged or stage managed (even though that might not actually be the case).  There is very little that deals with the realities of implementing DAM – that it’s going to be hard work and require some complex decisions to be made.  Most smart buyers grasp this very quickly, what they want is guidance on how to do it.  The vendor should be the focal point for getting that information.  They should be the experts and have encountered the same problems on numerous previous occasions together with an armoury of methods to help solve or avoid them.  A lot of the times the DAM consulting practice I work for gets called in is either because the purchaser can’t trust the vendors they have spoken to or they don’t want to get involved in helping the client solve non-product related issues.  There is an intersection between the role of vendor and consultant in DAM software implementation exercises which cannot be  ignored.

Many DAM vendors sites are usually technically well put together but the copy is anodyne, vacuous and written by people who give the impression they don’t care about the DAM subject and just need to fill up some pixels on a web page.  A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about how small vendors (those with less than 1000 employees) usually build better IT systems because they tend to care more about all their customers.  I suspect a few of those that have progressed beyond having more than a small number of staff where the marketing function requires the appointment of a dedicated employee run into a related problem where the people involved either don’t care about DAM or they copy marketing tactics used by everyone else because they don’t understand how to do it any other way.  What then happens is you get a lot of marketing on auto-pilot where relevance and trust is subsidiary to volume and coverage or they use ham-fisted tactics that prospective buyers see straight through.

There is a good article on this by G.David Dodd: Can Your Marketing Content Meet the Burden of Proof?

Many adjectives can be used to describe content that will build credibility with early-stage buyers, but I contend that two stand out in importance. First, credible content is authoritative. Marketing content doesn’t need to read like an academic journal or a legal brief, but the main points you make should be supported by sound evidence, preferably from third-party sources…The second essential attribute of credible early-stage content is that it is non-promotional. For many early-stage buyers, even a hint of self-serving promotion will taint their view of the content. When I prepare a new early-stage content resource, I use a simple test to determine if it is sufficiently non-promotional. I ask myself this question: If I created a version of the resource without any obvious brand identifiers and gave that version to a reader, would the reader be able to determine who prepared the resource? If the answer to this question is “yes,” the resource may be too promotional.” [Read More]

There are lots of good articles about B2B marketing on this blog and it’s well worth both reading that and following his Twitter feed @gdaviddodd for updates.

The key issue is having marketing personnel that are interested in DAM.  Until you are actively involved in managing collections of content, the subject gives the impression of being dull and boring.  When you experience the issues first-hand, you can understand how there is a lot more to it than meets the eye and why it is far more dynamic and multi-faceted enough to warrant some in-depth guidance on how to handle the task effectively.

No doubt many DAM marketing people will want to tell you how much they care too, but like their content, I don’t think I really believe very many of them.  If you want to get plausible DAM copy for your website and have employees that all properly appreciate the problems faced by not just prospective customers but also the implementation personnel who have to make it all happen then they need to be actively involved in managing a DAM solution.  It means a lot more than just downloading the odd logo or snap of the CEO; the marketing personnel have to get involved with cataloguing decent volumes of assets and also making decisions about controlled vocabularies and all the other complex decisions required to run a DAM.  They should be encouraged to report back issues to the implementation staff and also write up their experiences – this is real, first-hand exposure to DAM and it should enable the marketing personnel to directly empathise with their target market.

That unfortunate phrase ‘eat your own dogfood’ gets bandied around with reference to this topic.  While I’m not sure I like the linguistic device very much, the sentiment is spot on.  Equally, DAM marketing people need to be able to communicate this knowledge – that is what they should be experts at.  This is the missing link between sophisticated software and solving user’s real-world problems.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

David Diamond July 22, 2013 at 4:31 pm

First of all, thank you. We never announced the new site to you because we assumed it was beyond your editorial guidelines. So we’re really humbled that you would take notice and, of course, we’re happy you like what you see.

That said, your assessment of marketing professionals in DAM is spot on. I know when I’m reading “fluff” that comes from a “marketroid” with no real interest in DAM because either the copy speaks to the obvious, or it sounds a little too familiar, if you know what I mean: “Watch our webinar to learn how DAM can improve your workflows!” This is like seeing a nutrition poster that reads, “Eat protein to improve health! Find out how!”

I should see this as a competitive advantage; but instead, it just really pisses me off. I’m tired of seeing marketing “hired guns” come and go from DAM vendors, all the while doing nothing to help move this industry forward.

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with Jennifer Neumann. She was the woman who started Canto Software, though she’s not been involved with that company for ages. I’ve never met someone more personally inspired by the potential of DAM. In our conversation, she blamed DAM communicators for the fact that DAM has not caught on more than it has. She rightly pointed out that everything from the term “digital asset management” to the abstract ways in which we still try to tout DAMs benefits are awkward at best.

Though I’m one of those communicators she effectively faults, I couldn’t disagree with her.

But the problem is that while our community has great writers, like David Riecks, Henrik de Gyor, Heather Hedden, the DAM News crew, and others, it is we DAM vendors who have the loudest mouths and the biggest budgets. We can buy our ways onto the first pages of Google results, and we can plaster our messages across Web banners.

Knowing this was the reason Picturepark agreed to devote half our website to DAM education. We know people listen to us, because we see the monthly traffic. We also know that other DAM vendors pay attention to what we do, say and offer. And, in some cases, they even emulate. So, in this case, we hope other DAM vendors will follow suit. We encourage them to do so because, as Ms. Neumann pointed out, we all need to try harder.

If we can collectively make this industry bigger than it is, that will mean more prospects buying DAM software. And when more people are buying DAM software, that means more success for the vendors with the better products. And there you have Picturepark’s “evil corporate strategy” with regard to why we want to educate and build a stronger DAM community. It isn’t rocket science.

“People who know more about DAM make better purchase decisions.” I wrote that in DAM Survival Guide, and I just read it again on a webinar invitation that came to me from another DAM vendor. (Who, incidentally, had downloaded the free excerpt of DAM Survival Guide form Picturepark.) ;)

So that’s all that we’re up to. It’s our entire content-marketing strategy laid out for every other DAM vendor to steal, borrow or whatever. But for the love of God, fellow vendors, please stop promising the world in broad strokes that use cheap paint and don’t cover walls.

David Diamond
Director of Global Marketing

David Dodd July 23, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Thank you for the kind comments regarding my blog. Unfortunately, far too many companies still rely primarily on marketing content that is largely promotional fluff. However, this is beginning to change. Many B2B companies are now providing well-crafted marketing content that delivers real value to potential buyers. The reality is, valuable marketing content is quickly becoming an essential component of effective B2B marketing. In this regard, DAM vendors are no different from other B2B companies that sell products or services with lengthy and complex sales cycles.

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