I’m going to start this post with some groundbreaking information. BREAKING NEWS – MARKETING HAS CHANGED! My favorite Dilbert comic calls out marketing for being liquor and guessing, while the liquor part might still be accurate, the guessing has been substituted with so much data that we’re shackled with insecurity about making wrong decisions because we might be misreading the data.
Also, marketing departments used to be fairly defined. Digital marketing did one thing, product marketing did their thing, ecommerce worked on their side of the office and then agencies helped out with the creative stuff that companies just don’t have the resources to handle.
Today all those departments still exist, of course, but they’re not quite as defined as they used to be. There’s no reason that the content created by a product marketer can’t be used by the demand gen team further down the funnel, and no reason that the content team shouldn’t work with the digital marketing team who also clearly touches his ecomm colleagues. And your agencies, you ask? If they can’t collaborate as if they’re part of the team, then what are you paying for exactly?
So, since collaboration and data seem to be the trends in modern day marketing you can probably guess that I’m going to share with you some tools to help you with just that (plus the title kind of gave it away). But, since I used to work for one I’ll begin with the letters P I and M.
Product Information Management (PIM)
Buy one! Need I say more? I reckon I should educate you before you get your checkbook out, it is after all the first step of the marketing process which you’re so familiar with. A PIM, quite simply, is a central repository for taxonomy, data, imagery, materials and anything and everything that helps you go to market and sell your products. A standalone PIM used to be just for storage and retrieval but today they should function as a collaborative tool that allows for an inter-department strategy that includes a complex supply chain that begins with product development and ends with the product online in front of the right audience.
Digital Asset Management (DAM)
A DAM is a central repository for pretty much all marketing material, including video, images, collateral, and pretty much every piece of content you can create and make variations of. A DAM will make clear the latest variation and ensure that it gets in front of the right person who needs to work on it or even disseminate it via workflows. In this regard it’s the ideal tool for creatives to ensure that odious process of searching through folders or email attachments are a thing of the past. It also speeds up the amount of time to get material to market and ensures accuracy.
Have you ever tried to log in to each social media site that you own and a separate tool for email blasts, another one for a drip campaign, another one to create landing pages, and yet another for data analytics and so on and so forth. Combining these into one solution is by far the most practical thing that a marketing department can do. If you don’t already use a marketing automation suite you are in the minority as over 75% of marketers use some variation of it.
Project management tools such as Trello and Asana are quite helpful in helping move projects along, especially multi-faceted campaigns and content strategies. Keeping everyone on track is one of the hardest parts of any project, especially those without a defined project manager, so having a bit of electronic accountability helps the entire team.
Gone are the days that instant messaging, or IMing as it were, was frowned upon at work. Today offices sit silent while people type away to their colleagues over tools such as Skype or Slack. More than just a solution to gossip about the person next to you, it’s also an efficient way for colleagues to communicate if they are in different cities or even different offices. Communication is obviously key to a collaborative marketing team to ensure that your strategy is moving forward.