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Great Visual Storytelling Takes A Village

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Visual content assets can be a significant contributor to the content marketing process and customer experience. Learn how four Cs — collaborate, customize, communicate, and connect — can help the community of the business manage digital assets.

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Great Visual Storytelling Takes A Village

  1. 1. How four Cs—Collaborate, Customize, Communicate, and Connect—help the community of the business manage digital assets By ROBERT ROSE, Chief Strategy Officer, Content Marketing Institute Great Visual Storytelling Takes A Village
  2. 2. 2 G R E A T V I S U A L S T O R Y T E L L I N G T A K E S A V I L L A G E Welcome Widen is excited to offer two great articles in association with esteemed content marketing strategist Robert Rose and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Great Visual Storytelling Takes A Village How four Cs—Collaborate, Customize, Communicate, and Connect—help the community of the business manage digital assets -AND- Digital Assets Should Be Agile, Not Fast How agile teams, assets, and processes create collaborative content, better brands, and faster content marketing Today’s marketing and creative leaders consistently seek ways to create more engaging customer experiences, while also assembling the right combination of tools and processes to make their performance as agile as possible. At Widen, we view digital asset management as a core component to the marketing technology ecosystem, just as visual content assets are a significant contributor to the content marketing process and customer experience. These articles explore how smartly deployed digital asset management systems empower the modern creative and marketing operation to serve as the center for strategic differentiation within the enterprise. We think you’ll enjoy learning more about how Widen and CMI look at digital asset management today and we welcome your thoughts and feedback.
  3. 3. 3 G R E A T V I S U A L S T O R Y T E L L I N G T A K E S A V I L L A G E Introduction Rich Media Experiences Will Pave The Future Of Content Marketing At Content Marketing Institute (CMI), we often talk about how using content-driven experiences for marketing purposes isn’t a new practice—and we still believe that. For hundreds of years, businesses have been using content in pockets to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Notwithstanding a few exceptional examples such as John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s travel guides from the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s G.I. JOE partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not— and is not currently—a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of most marketing organizations. In short, content marketing was historically (and still is almost exclusively) treated as a project, not a process. This is changing rapidly. Maybe that’s due to the digital disruption and ease by which we now publish and distribute content and experiences to aggregate our own audiences. Maybe it’s just the natural evolution of marketing. The reasons behind the evolution don’t matter as much as the ultimate outcome. There can be no argument, as we roll into the next five years and approach 2020, that visually rich content—and the exponentially increasing quantities that every organization produces—affects marketing strategy and should be dealt with as a component of that strategy throughout the enterprise. Forrester Research estimates that unstructured enterprise content (meaning digital assets) volume is growing at a rate of 200% annually. Enterprises are now functioning as content factories, producing massive mountains of digital files that spew forth from marketing—like a giant Dr. Seuss machine—and land squarely on the back of the content wagon being towed. How much that wagon acts as a differentiator, or as a weight that hinders forward progress, depends on how well the content is managed. This evolution is one where we see content-driven “experiences” as a primary area of focus for forward-leaning brands. In our new book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, my co-author Carla Johnson and I write: “In this new era of marketing, unique, impactful, differentiating content-driven experiences will become as important as product development. Successful marketers will adapt and change in a constantly evolving media operation that focuses on creating delightful experiences to inform, entertain, engage, and evolve the customer.”1 1 Experiences: The 7th Era Of Marketing, Robert Rose and Carla Johnson
  4. 4. 4 G R E A T V I S U A L S T O R Y T E L L I N G T A K E S A V I L L A G E And this isn’t just our conjecture. Research has shown that rich media is producing more and better results. Studies have found that:  Blogs that integrate video attract three times the number of inbound links.2  Video is 53 times more likely to generate a first-page Google ranking.3  Rich media ads (those with social, video, or other features built into them) perform 20% better than standard banners.4 At the heart of these rich media experiences are the creative processes and collaboration that enable the brand to create them. As brands have expanded their use of rich media assets across a plethora of channels, Digital Asset Management (DAM) has become an increasingly important piece in the creative manager’s toolbox. According to the report, “The Forrester Wave: Digital Asset Management For Customer Experience, Q4 2014”: “Experiences across the customer life cycle create complexities in managing rich media. DAM solutions must effectively support both the increase in the amount of content with more scalable solutions, the ability to manage complexities like different content types (e.g., 3D and CGI for product packaging), and better integration with various systems (e.g., CRM and customer services tools, WCM, and ecommerce).” 5 This aligns with trends we’ve identified through our annual CMI content marketing survey. As reported in our 2015 research, 86% of both B2B and B2C marketers say “creating more visual content” is an initiative they are either working on now, or will be working on within the next 12 months. 6 There’s no doubt that as content marketing scales in the business, the processes and need for more flexible and agile creative collaboration scales commensurately. But, in order to scale, creative teams must be able to work together even when they are not actually in the same building. From agencies, to freelancers, to in-house design teams, a company’s creative efforts are more disparate than ever before. Put simply: Great visual storytelling takes a village—but these days that village is really spread out. 2 March 2011 Internet Retailer study covering Stacks and Stacks is at http://www.invodo.com/html/resources/video-statistics/ 3 http://blogs.forrester.com/interactive_marketing/2009/01/the-easiest- way.html 4 http://www.digitalstrategyconsulting.com/intelligence/2013/10/infographic_cpg_rich_media_ads_peform_20_better_than_standard_banners.php 5 https://www.forrester.com/The+Forrester+Wave+Digital+Asset+Management+For+Customer+Experience+Q4+2014/fulltext/-/E-RES113647 6 http://www.slideshare.net/CMI/2015-b2b-content-marketing-benchmarks-budgets-and-trends-north-america-by-content-marketing-institute-and-marketingprofs
  5. 5. 5 G R E A T V I S U A L S T O R Y T E L L I N G T A K E S A V I L L A G E The challenge is that most brands are hampered by their existing infrastructure and processes for collaborating and creating experiences. Research has shown that creative professionals spend between 5-15% of their time managing files, and almost 10% of their time searching for the right file to use.7 Unwieldy technology and corporate processes are currently built to govern and protect assets, rather than to enable collaboration or flexible publishing of those assets. In our work with enterprises of varying sizes, we’ve seen four trends begin to emerge as best practices when bringing this village together into a working community. They are:  Collaborate—by implementing the ability to work together on critical creative processes WITHIN one system and not outside in email, spreadsheets, or other project management tools.  Customize—with personal dashboards and flexible interfaces. Planning, reviewing, and approving creative assets can be a full-time job when you’re managing dozens of channels. Dashboards and quick ways to move assets through a workflow are key.  Communicate—mobility from the field and clearer interfaces based on the function. If a creative professional’s job is to submit new creative pieces from the field, he or she should have simple and flexible ways to do so (perhaps drag-and-drop, and certainly tablet or smartphone interfaces). Easy configuration and simplicity of team-based interfaces are critical.  Connect—assets to insight in the omnichannel world. Today, visual content is published to many end channels. One video may live in dozens of places. An infographic may appear on numerous global websites, in different languages and multiple formats. Creative teams need instant access to all the different places that content lives. Let’s look at each of these. 7 http://www.aiim.org/pdfdocuments/40480.pdf
  6. 6. 6 G R E A T V I S U A L S T O R Y T E L L I N G T A K E S A V I L L A G E Collaborate: Putting The Flow In Workflow More and more, collaboration is the critical piece in managing digital content. In fact, Gleanster Research recently looked at “top performers” (those getting the most ROI out of their DAM solutions) and found that 92% of them had implemented a solution to facilitate better workflow. Today, creative managers within marketing have the requirement to open up their asset workflow beyond the internal enterprise. They need to collaborate—in real time—with external agencies, creative freelancers, and other enterprise systems that will manage and display that content to customers. The critical factor here is agility. In the DAM process of yesterday, assets were highly secure files that needed to be governed slowly, and protected from unauthorized use. Today, the creative marketing department lives in an on-demand world where marketing assets need to be accessed, iterated, published, and measured in real time. For example, we worked with a retailer who wanted to create exceptional photo collections across Pinterest and Twitter. The retailer wanted to leverage all the wonderful photos being created by store associates across the country; however, they wanted to alleviate the need for the store associates to pay attention to “themes” or “editorial calendaring.” This meant that the constant stream of photos couldn’t be automated through a simple RSS feed; instead, they would need a human to curate the photos, no matter where the photos came in from (e.g., Instagram, email, intranet folders). Then, the creative editor could theme them, and provide for a nice, steady, and creative flow out to the retailer’s Pinterest page. The retailer decided to centralize the capture of these photos in their technology solution, which enables the social media manager to pick, choose, and publish the photos she wants for Pinterest and Twitter. Additionally, she can comment, collaborate, and communicate through the tool to suggest appropriate images for the blog team. That team, in turn, also customizes and assembles collections for blog posts and other areas of the website.
  7. 7. 7 G R E A T V I S U A L S T O R Y T E L L I N G T A K E S A V I L L A G E Customize: Results May Be Closer Than They Appear With so many collaborators on content and assets, it’s more important than ever that not only the usage of assets be measured, but the origin of them as well. As assets are mashed up, combined, and generally transformed through collaborative workflows, it’s incredibly important to track the origin of the individual parts. A great example of this is a large, global pharmaceutical company that we worked with. As part of their content marketing program, this company sources local stories and creates visual assets to represent those stories. For example, the brand team sends a “reporter” out to individual global offices to source the local customer stories that they want to tell. In many cases, they’re shooting raw video, conducting audio interviews, and taking photos. Then, the brand team and the company’s agency work together back at global headquarters to create the beautiful and highly creative assets that tell the stories. The success of this program is measured on how many stories are picked up by other local offices. Using their DAM system, the team has established an “internal store,” where different marketing teams from around the world can use the assets associated with the stories for their own marketing purposes. An internal dashboard indicates how many times assets are downloaded, and by whom, and a tracker acts like a digital fingerprint to trace all those downloaded assets after they go out to a specific region. So, the brand team not only knows if a digital asset is downloaded, but also whether it is actually used. This provides the brand team with insight into what stories are resonating most in each region, as well as a measurement tool to understand how successful their creative content marketing is.
  8. 8. 8 G R E A T V I S U A L S T O R Y T E L L I N G T A K E S A V I L L A G E Communicate: Different Swipes For Different Types Content is no longer created solely on desktop computers. Photos are shot at events, interviews are recorded on the street, and presentations are created and managed on tablet devices in coffee shops. Today’s asset management processes need to accommodate not only remote workers, but the individuality of their job functions as well. Replacing the time-consuming job of “searching and locating files” with having to swipe and tap through applications that are not optimized will lead to the same inefficiency as before. Instead, we see forward-leaning brands using optimized solutions that provide photographers with the ability to edit and upload their photos directly from their mobile devices. These solutions provide customized interfaces based on a user’s function as a “consumer” of content, a “creator” of content, or a manager that “approves” assets through a workflow. A medical device company that we worked with discovered their ability to produce exponentially more content by enabling this type of process. Their sales teams are remote, and almost always on the road. These sales reps needed a faster way to access the media-rich sales presentations, videos, and other content they used. As the VP of marketing said to me, “Our sales teams used to rely solely on email and our shared corporate folder to access these files. But now, we can provide an interface to the most used, most effective, and most recent rich-media assets right to their iPads.” Furthermore, the marketing team at this company holds client events all over the country. At each event, they employ freelance agencies to serve as “reporters,” capturing photos, audio interviews, and even video with their iPhones. The company has equipped all of these reporters with an iPhone app that automatically uploads the content they are capturing into an asset management repository. This is where the creative team goes to access the assets for future creations.
  9. 9. 9 G R E A T V I S U A L S T O R Y T E L L I N G T A K E S A V I L L A G E Connect: The TV Guide To Your Digital Assets In today’s agile content environment, priorities are always changing. An effective digital asset tool should give larger creative teams insight into where all the missing pieces are connected when a new brand is introduced, or when new creative designs need to be applied to all the connected assets for a content marketing initiative. In addition, many great visual assets are going to be published to different places. Having an efficient way to track where these assets go is crucial to being able to scale a creative visual storytelling process. When the brand changes, or an update to a piece is needed, it’s critical to be able to quickly locate ALL the different places and assets that will need to be updated. Consider the example of a midsize software company we worked with recently. After receiving a sizable round of funding, the company went through an entire rebrand, including logo, colors, and messaging. However, many of the videos and rich media presentations they had created were working really well, and they didn’t want to completely take them down. The good news was that they had built into their process a method for keeping track of where each and every asset was located—and also where the source assets resided for each piece. As the digital asset manager told me, “At my previous company, it would have taken us months to update all those pieces. But because we have a system that links us to exactly where all the finished assets are being used, and all the source assets within it, we’ve saved weeks of time. And, we didn’t even miss a beat in terms of traffic.”
  10. 10. 10 G R E A T V I S U A L S T O R Y T E L L I N G T A K E S A V I L L A G E Conclusion One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned is that it’s not the technology that drives the creative process. Rather, it’s a deep and well-understood creative process that is facilitated by technology. So, as creative managers start thinking about bringing content production teams together across the different parts of the organization, they must first develop a process. Then, and only then, can the search for the right technology to facilitate the process begin. Even in 2015, we still see creative teams connected through email, spreadsheets, Word docs, and maybe some type of file-sharing platform. All of these are sometimes hinged together in a makeshift workflow process that doesn’t work for anyone—and certainly isn’t built to scale. As creating bigger and more impactful visual storytelling efforts in our companies becomes increasingly important, so too will creating a single process and workflow that simplifies and powers that engine of creation. It will allow creative teams to focus on being, well, creative.
  11. 11. 11 G R E A T V I S U A L S T O R Y T E L L I N G T A K E S A V I L L A G E About Content Marketing Institute Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is the leading global content marketing education and training organization. CMI teaches enterprise brands how to attract and retain customers through compelling, multi-channel storytelling. CMI’s Content Marketing World event, the largest content marketing-focused event, is held every September, and Content Marketing World Sydney, every March. CMI also produces the quarterly magazine Chief Content Officer, and provides strategic consulting and content marketing research for some of the best-known brands in the world. CMI is a 2012, 2013, and 2014 Inc. 500 company. To learn more about CMI, go to www.contentmarketinginstitute.com. About Widen Widen is a marketing technology company that powers the content that builds your brand. Widen delivers software services that help capture, organize, share, and analyze marketing content. One of those services is a cloud-based digital asset management solution helping marketing and creative teams easily store, search, distribute, share, track, and archive popular marketing content, such as images, logos, videos, graphics, brochures, and other marketing collateral. Organizations of all sizes use the Widen Media Collective to streamline their workflows and make their content work harder. Widen is relied upon by hundreds of thousands of users worldwide across various industries. Organizations leveraging existing brand equity alongside organizations beginning to build brand equity trust Widen to help connect their marketing content. These include organizations such as the United Nations, Bain, Army National Guard, Mayo, Remington, LG, Roche, Trek, Cornell University, New Orleans Tourism Marketing, Atlanta Falcons, Spotify, Red Gold Tomatoes, GE Aviation, Kohler, and Yankee Candle. To learn more about Widen, go to www.widen.com.

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