8 Things to Ask When Evaluating Collateral Management Tools
Believe it or not, there was a time when marketing collateral pretty much just meant flyers, postcards, brochures, and rate cards. They often would be stored in a supply closet, in the cardboard boxes they were delivered in, and managers kept track of inventory with a pen, paper, and a clipboard. Digital content? What was that?
Today, hard collateral has multiplied, as has the number of people who access it. If this were merely a problem of volume, collateral management would be a relatively straightforward project. But because marketing is rapidly growing more sophisticated, automated, and personalized, segmentation is a key variable. Marketers need to be able to pivot, make changes quickly, and tailor resources to specific segments.
That’s why having a reliable marketing resource management (MRM) system is so important – and why it’s so important to know what to look for when evaluating the software that will work best for you and your team. All the more so if your organization has a central marketing operation with local teams out in the field – for instance, a university with several campuses, a healthcare center with specialists’ offices, or a restaurant chain with franchise locations. Without a system to manage and distribute printable assets throughout the business, the value of your marketing assets is at serious risk.
Here are 8 key questions to ask when evaluating marketing collateral management software:
- Does the software allow for easy content customization and print- and order-on-demand capabilities?
Options such as these should be at the top of your checklist – a no-brainer for most collateral management software. The keyword is easy. Software that can adapt and grow with you will also offer smart tools for content customization, such as drag and drop, in-tool editing, or linking up with Adobe or other design software. Above all, make sure the level of tech is appropriate for you.
- If the software doesn’t quite match your needs right out of the box, can the company help you customize it?
Even with a multitude of options and capabilities, no system is one size fits all. Make sure the software you choose comes with options and customer support so that you can tailor it to suit your unique needs. In some cases you’ll want to opt for a platform built to your specific needs.
- Does it help your team communicate?
Like a game of Telephone gone wrong, the fastest way for a campaign to go off track is to have suboptimal communication across your team. If collaborators can access files and information easily and communicate with one another fluidly, edits and approvals can happen faster. Look for email or mobile alerts and shared workspaces to keep everything transparent and everyone on the same page.
- Do brand managers have sufficient control over shared assets?
Today’s collateral managers have to balance flexibility and control. How do you control access to file versions, limit edits and spending, and monitor production and printing processes – while empowering your whole team to contribute? Consider how many levels of access you need and how that matches a system’s capabilities. Solutions can cover the whole range, creating permissions for groups of many sizes all the way down to individual users.
- What if I already have a digital asset management system? Does the software integrate into or replace it?
If you’re considering new software, one of the first things to consider is ease of transition and onboarding. This impacts everything from your ability to secure buy-in to ensuring a decent return on your martech investment. A cloud-based solution offers quick setup, easy access, file security, and communication tools that are familiar to most users. Both have their advantages – and are distinctly preferable to cobbling together a system made of shared folders, a cloud-based design service, and email.
- Will your print and digital assets play well together in the new software?
Plenty of MRM products can handle digital assets very well; others focus on creating, producing, or storing print collateral; not many do both. Look for software that can help you shepherd print projects to fulfillment; coordinate a range of digital content; and organize both by file type, campaign, and other filters.
- Does the system provide easy access and clear permissions for your entire team?
If your organization has multiple locations that need to access files and produce customized content, then local team members need to be able to easily create, name, edit, organize, and release files. They also need clear parameters to work within. You may want a solution with strong centralized controls and flexible local access, such as MarCom On Demand, which offer benefits such as:
- Quick and easy implementation
- Improved brand consistency
- Streamlined, faster delivery of marketing assets
- Ease of communication across many locations and departments
- Location-specific budget presets
- Reduced production costs
- Does it measurably reduce costs?
The tool you decide to use needs to cover the basic functions of moving either print or digital marketing assets from idea to implementation: planning, design and editing (including template creation), proofing, approvals, and fulfilment including delivery to the mail house. Beyond that, it will help you streamline processes, minimize error, accelerate time to delivery, and reduce spend. As such, a key feature to look for is tracking and reporting so you can see orders, inventory, downloads, and other metrics that will help you plan and create more effective campaigns and materials.
Which brings us to our final point…
Work with someone who can do custom options so they can help you determine whether something out of the box works for you, or if a custom solution would be best for you.
Ready to look at options for managing marketing assets?
About Katrina Denk
Possessing over 10 years of experience leading strategic and tactical marketing efforts of some of the area’s most respected businesses, Marketing Director Katrina Denk brings a wide breadth of knowledge to every initiative she oversees. Whether it’s a product launch or a multi-touch email campaign, she understands all the ins and outs of the marketing mix. In her free time, Katrina is an enthusiastic world traveler and animal lover.