A customer recently visited us here in our Massachusetts office. On the same day, I had a conversation with another customer about some functionality we’re providing for them. On my way home, I found myself reflecting on what these two marketing managers want to achieve with marketing asset management.
The two are in very different businesses. One is with a scientific instruments company; the other, a beauty products manufacturer. They have very different sales channels, sales cycles, and price points.
The scientific instruments manufacturer sells globally through distributors and dealers – sales reps who tend to be very technical, with deep scientific roots. The company has a fairly long sales cycle and a lot of competition. The accuracy of their equipment is important to scientific end users.
The beauty products company, on the other hand, focuses on branding, distribution, and the pizazz often associated with consumer products. The distribution channel we help them with is beauty schools where students learn to do manicures, pedicures, and treatments using their products.
As I thought about what marketing asset management means to those two marketing managers, it occurred to me that in both cases, three functions are being seamlessly woven together within our platform to help fulfill their goals: content, commerce, and communication.
Now, that’s not a radical thought, but this “three C’s” model provides a useful structure for a new B2B marketing manager; for someone trying to improve channel support; or for someone who acquired a product line from another company and now has to support their dealer channels. In such situations, marketing managers should think of marketing asset management as a platform that allows them to choose the aspects of content, commerce, and communication most appropriate for fulfilling their business objectives.
When it comes to content, we mean the marketing materials, sales tools, brand assets, creative materials – all the information the marketer needs to make available to her or his channels so they’re properly informed and armed. These days, even non-technical products generally have a fairly large set of materials associated with them. They may include videos, price sheets, presentations, spreadsheets, and images considered essential for the sales channel to properly represent the product.
Obviously, one of the first things you need to do to support your sales channels is make sure content is accessible, up-to-date, accurate, and relevant for what they’re trying to do. The marketing asset management platform is an important tool for accomplishing that.
Consider the second piece: commerce. In many cases, marketing asset management serves as the eCommerce site for the sales channel to purchase product or to allow customers to buy product directly from the marketer. Being able to provide a responsive, modern, and efficient ordering platform for B2B sales channels is essential today. People expect up-to-date product and price information – as well as insight into availability and inventory levels. They expect to see order status, so they know when materials are going to arrive, and all the things one typically associates with consumer eCommerce sites. Many of these features are making their way into B2B eCommerce in the sales support arena.
The combination of commerce and content is very powerful, because it promises one place where sales channels can go to keep up-to-date on materials and products – and even order products. This may not be confined to physical products: it could include printed products, print on demand, demonstration materials, exhibit materials – all sorts of physical assets a sales channel needs to conduct business on behalf of the manufacturer.
As for the third piece – communication – email is clearly a major communications channel. With marketing asset management, emails can include custom data-driven campaigns for sales channels. These can be linked to web video, microsites, online chat, and online knowledge bases for websites that facilitate a two-way communication flow between distribution channels and the marketing department, and keep sales reps armed, updated, and motivated.
With marketing asset management, it’s common to start in one of these three areas (content, commerce, or communication), and then expand into others. And even when marketers have all three legs of the stool up and operating, over time, they’ll find additional capabilities and sophistication to bring to each of these areas.
Marketing asset management is the platform that allows B2B marketers to combine content, commerce, and communications in unique and compelling ways. The end result is more efficient and effective sales support for most any industry.
CEO and Co-Founder
Longwood Software, Inc.
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