DAM Champ: Rebecca Schneider
DAM champ Rebecca Schneider is a content and information professional who understands the strategic and tactical relationships between business, technology, and user needs. She works with companies that need help organizing their content. She works on projects focusing on digital asset management, sales enablement, website redesigns, and those related to similar organizational needs. Her areas of expertise include enterprise content strategy, taxonomy and metadata construction, and content management systems.
DAM champ: Someone who supports finding, setting up, or maintaining a DAM system. There’s a wide variety of DAM champions who come from positions in production, creative, management, IT, and marketing.
Can talk about your role as a content strategist and what your days consist of?
A typical day depends on the client. Usually, when I go into projects, I’ll conduct stakeholder interviews so I can get an understanding of what the company is – who they are, what their goals are – and then I work with stakeholders and others to provide (again, depending on the project) what’s called an enterprise content strategy. This provides a basis by which companies can organize their content and make it usable throughout the organization. Recommended solutions can include a digital asset management system, content management system, and so on.
What are some common problems that people usually come to you with regarding needing to manage their content?
Typically, it’s because they’re overwhelmed by it. I work with a lot of older companies that have a lot of legacy content. You know, companies that have been around for a long time using a wide variety of systems and repositories. They have a lot of content and they’re struggling to manage it.
What is their goal usually? Just to have a better understanding of what kind of content they have and how they can organize it? Or is it something else?
Yeah, sometimes, and for some companies, it’s because they want to reuse the content that they have because they paid a lot of money for it. Or it could be a company that does research and development and they want to be able to create an internal knowledge management system for their internal content.
Other times organizations want to provide a more effective user experience on their website or in an app. A lot of companies are really starting to focus on personalization and omnichannel marketing and what that essentially means for their bottom line. These companies are trying to really improve that user experience, especially retailers, so people will buy their products.
Relating back to digital asset management, what kinds of DAM projects have you worked on?
It’s been a variety of projects. I’ve worked mostly within a marketing context for obvious reasons, but other industries include luxury brands, financial services, and real estate companies who have images that they want to reuse for marketing, sales generation, websites, project proposals, and so forth.
How did you find out about DAM systems as a way to manage content?
This is an interesting question because I don’t know if there was any one time that I was like, oh, there’s a system I can use to help me manage my digital assets. I don’t know if there was an ah-ha moment, but as an extension of my work with content management systems, I became familiar with digital asset management systems.
So why do you think digital asset management — and you could also take this as more content management too — but why do you think that whole process of managing and organizing your content is important?
Well, organizations pay for their content. There’s a business reason they create that content, be it an image, a piece of text, or something else. A digital asset management system or content management system helps them track and manage that content or those digital assets.
Content, whether it’s images or text or something else, is a corporate asset. It needs to pay its way, so to speak. So for many organizations, digital asset creation or content creation costs a great deal, so they want to make sure those assets work for them in the long term.
How do you get users excited about using a new DAM system or content management system?
It’s a multi-pronged approach because typically people don’t like change. Even if it’s change that’s good for them and will be a good thing, they have to switch and learn something new, they’re used to the way it was, and they think, “Why do we have to change it?”
So you have to show how it can help them in their day-to-day job. Look, now you don’t have to go to five different places in order to pull together a media kit; it’s all in one place. You have all the necessary use permissions set up and it’s been paid for.
“If you show them how it’s going to make their lives easier, that helps.”
Also, you can show how it can help to increase revenue, such as getting those beauty shots for products to market more quickly to support campaigns. It can also help, particularly in the financial services world, to show them how it can help them ensure that they’re within compliance and they’re following company policy with regard to content and content use.
Oftentimes, it requires a consistent reinforcement of this will help you do your job better. You always have to help people use the new system and be reliable. You should take a customer service mentality when you’re working with users in your digital asset management system, content management system, or any kind of technology. You want to help them over that learning curve. Think in terms of a customer service: Always give quick responses, detailed helpful answers, and anything else to get them comfortable.
What is your biggest challenge when implementing a new technology in the workplace?
User acceptance. As I mentioned before, people aren’t big on change. They say they are, but sometimes that’s not the case. Also, another one of the challenges is when you’re working with high-level stakeholders and they want everything yesterday. They don’t see all the behind-the-scenes work to make all this happen. I mean, they’re not supposed to nor do they have to, because that’s not their job.
“So when implementing technology, I try to think of it in terms of crawl, walk, run. Slowly implement new features, capabilities and develop the system while keeping your users in mind.”
Then you can add functionality later because that big bang approach rarely works. People get overwhelmed by functionality or you pay for things that you thought people would use and they never do. So you have to have some of the bright and sparkly for upper management, but give them the few things that they really want. They’re your champions, so you want to make them happy, but you can’t give them the world. So that’s a big struggle.
What do you think would be helpful to you during your work when you have these challenges?
Engagement and support from senior leadership. They don’t have to be involved in the day-to-day, but they have to communicate out to their teams and their organizations that this is an important initiative for the company and help reinforce that this is not just some sort of throwaway project, but it’s a key project for the organization. If you don’t have that support, it’ll be a struggle.
What advice would you give to people trying to get a digital asset or content management system in their organization?
Show them how it helps the bottom line in terms of increasing time to market because you’re providing images in a much more structured way in supporting the associated campaigns. So you’ve got staff efficiency, effective reuse of content, and not just digital content, but how it can help content in multiple channels — the in-store placards, the handouts, the brochures that distributors might use if you’re in a B2B context, and demonstrating with analytics and metrics how this can help the organization overall.
You’re not going to have success metrics right away, but if you say, “Look, these are our expectations and this is what we’re going to do, this is how it’s worked for other companies, and increased their revenue by X, or they’ve increased their onsite engagement by 300%, etc.”
“You have to be able to measure success or failure in order to learn from it.”
Then the other piece would be that all-important executive sponsorship, because essentially you can’t do anything until you have a budget. In order to get a budget, you usually need some sort of executive sponsorship.
Do you have advice for people looking to get that executive sponsorship?
It depends on the client. Typically, it’s getting someone who’s not necessarily high up in the organization, but is well respected. Get those people to listen about the importance of content management or digital asset management. And it may take multiple tries and multiple people. Sometimes it comes down to timing. Maybe a new person comes in and they’re brought in to clean things up; that can be a good opportunity.
In other cases, if you can demonstrate what’s really not working: “Our idea of a beauty shot is some guy taking a picture of a product we sell as it comes off the assembly line with his iPhone. This doesn’t help sell the product.” It’s a combination of cajoling and saying, this is how a DAM/CMS/etc. could help, but it’s getting that one person to take a few minutes and listen to what you have to say.
That ends it for the questions I had prepared. Is there anything you’d like to add as last thoughts?
I’d just like to reinforce that content is a corporate asset, and it can help or hurt your organization, depending on how you manage it.