Within a marketing asset management system, the vast majority of assets are static PDFs, presentations, images, videos, and so on. They change only when they’re updated or versioned, and the most recent version of each is made available to customers, sales reps, distributors, and others.
In addition to these static assets, there’s a new asset type becoming increasingly important for many companies. They’re known as “dynamic,” “customized,” or “personalized” assets. In the printing world, these assets involve what’s typically called “variable” data. But in a modern marketing asset management system, both digital and print assets can be customized. This means the marketing asset management system allows a user to make certain modifications to these assets. And in so doing, the user creates a personalized, customized, or unique version of that asset for a particular application.
Here’s an example. A sales rep needs business cards. Instead of calling, faxing, or emailing to request them, the rep goes to the marketing asset management system and accesses a template for the company business card. The rep simply enters her or his name along with other contact information and clicks a button. The system creates a print-ready PDF for the rep to take to his or her local printer, or the system sends the print-ready PDF to the company’s central Print-on-Demand facility. The template defines the overall structure of the business card and enables the rep to add personal data to create a unique item.
Possibilities for customization are literally endless. It could be a promotional poster featuring a specific product. A sales rep could choose between products (with corresponding product photos), a promotional price, and perhaps a date range for the promotion. These are all variable or dynamic pieces of data that get married to the template to create the personalized asset.
Lots of companies are interested in this level of customization for good reason. It helps enforce brand standards, because modifications are only made within the approved template. It saves time, because employees are able to make simple version changes or personalize quickly using a template as opposed to having a designer create a version. It saves money, because instead of producing large runs of assets with everyone’s name on them, they’re created as needed, in the quantity required for each person. It improves the effectiveness of marketing material, because the system allows the user to create something more relevant to a particular sales or marketing situation.
Here’s an advantage marketing pros tend to love: automating the creation of these items through a customized module within the marketing asset management system eliminates requests that come in to marketing for special versions of assets. Conceptually, that may seem like a fairly simple equation: take a template, add user-specific data, and produce a new asset. But in practice, lots of options and tools should be available to the marketing department, so personalization works within a wide range of structures.
Creating templates needs to be easy. Marketers generally don’t have time to learn a bunch of new tools or a markup language to create a template. Ideally, the marketing asset management system allows them to use tools they already know. For example, Adobe Acrobat is often the basis for templates, because marketers are familiar with the tool.
It’s also important for marketers to be able to identify and define where the data can come from to populate the template. In many cases, a sales rep may type the specific variant on a web page to provide the personalization. But that may not be very efficient. It might be better for the rep to choose from a list of predefined pieces of text or images. It may be optimal for data to be automatically inserted based on the user. For example, on a business card, certain contact information may be pre-populated, instead of typed. The same is true of customizable data elements in other templates.
This brings us to another important marketing asset management function: fulfillment rules for customized assets. For example, users most often download assets, but many items need to be printed. In these cases, the marketing asset management system will allow the user to take the created item and place an order for it for physical fulfillment.
In other cases, users may want to create personalized, customized items and email them directly from the marketing asset management system without having to download them. Perhaps they want to take assets and save them within the system to be combined with other materials in a digital kit.
There are lots of applications for personalization and customization. Having a marketing asset management system that combines an easy approach to creating templates and allows users to customize items can be very cost-effective. When the system allows the marketing department to define rules, restrictions, and limits on data that can be entered, it’s a powerful tool for assuring brand integrity.
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