The most successful marketing departments today sit at the center of the organization — and they stay there by centralizing resources for the benefit of the whole company.

Doing that effectively means relying in part on a digital asset management system that enables marketers to assist the whole company—human resources, sales, operations, customer service. This ensures that the brand is represented consistently throughout the entire customer journey, from awareness to purchase to engagement, and that every asset is used to its full potential.

Take Virgin, for instance. The airline company produced a unique, cinematic film for its in-flight safety videos. That single piece of customer content then became the basis of multiple social media campaigns that reach people all along the customer journey, thanks to the ability to repurpose assets.

We explored the idea of growing need for DAMs in a webinar with senior analyst Anjali Yakkundi at Forrester. Here are six takeaways from the presentation in case you couldn’t attend.

1. Centralizing Knowledge Leads to Greatness

Percolate Director of Integrated Marketing Chris Bolman started the call with a story about William Rogers, an American professor in the mid-19th century. He realized that technology and the industrial revolution was changing the world in multi-faceted ways, but educational disciplines—like chemistry or physics—were each in their own silo. He pursued a pet project to create a school that prioritized the multidisciplinary scientific research.

Years go by being ignored by others. But after the end of the Civil War, the first classes finally took place at the school he founded: the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Without Rogers’ “pet project”, we wouldn’t have had innovations like radio and GPS.

That’s all to say that if you don’t work to break down silos, you limit your potential. Marketing can spearhead internal initiatives to connect the rest of the organization with a DAM.

2. Three Facts That Show Why You Need a DAM

Bolman also pointed out three facts that illuminate why you’d want a central, cloud-based repository of shareable assets and content.

Fact 1: The average advertising agency is hired for 3 years and has 30% annual staff turnover.

That means that even if you never switch agencies, you could have a completely different set of marketers working for you in just three years. A DAM limits how much content you can lose from employees — and their hard drives — departing.

Fact 2: Salespeople lose 40% of their time either looking for or creating content because they can’t find what they need. If they had a DAM to let them easily search and find the right asset when they need it, sales could be almost twice as productive.

Fact 3: An analysis of 1,000 companies shows that a central, cloud-based DAM pays back its entire investment in less than a year. That’s because of time savings and a faster time-to-market, among other reasons.

3. Content Demand (and Cost) is On the Rise

The utility of DAMs is rising with the the growing interest in content marketing, Yakkundi said. Almost nine-tenths (89%) of senior marketers told Forrester that they expected to invest more in content marketing in a survey; 47% of those said they’d increase investment by at least 20%.

That’s because brands (like Virgin, as discussed above) have recognized the engagement that marketing content can generate. The in-flight safety video garnered six million views on Youtube in less than two weeks.

But at the same time, the cost of producing that content is on the rise. Research from Percolate fas found that non-working spend — the dollars put toward creating a piece of content, as opposed to the dollars spent on distribution — are on the rise, especially in the case of consumer-facing brands.

4. DAMs: Business Technology, Rather than Information Technology

Yakkundi made a distinction between typical IT and Business Technology, or BT. While IT traditionally refers to on-premises, back-office platforms, BT aims to win, serve, and retain customers. That means agile software that helps your brand manage the customer journey.

To that end, modern DAMs should do three things:

  • Centralize all customer-facing assets, like banner ads, product packaging, and customer support tools
  • Manage content publication processes, from planning to approvals to measurement
  • Help you understand the ROI of content with performance data, like conversion rates or even how effective an agency’s content performs.

5. Expect DAMs to Pay for Themselves

To better explain why DAMs are a good investment, and how they can pay for themselves, Yakkundi provided a 6-point framework for understanding the potential benefits:

  • Reduced time to market
  • Reduced content recreation costs
  • Improved workflow efficiency
  • Fewer legal costs over misuse of content
  • Increased brand consistency and compliance
  • Better agency collaboration

6. To Select a DAM, Look at Your Business Objective

Finally, Yakkundi answered a question from Bolman about how marketers can narrow down the field of potential solutions.

She suggests that first, marketers should home in on the specific business challenge they’re working on, lest you become distracted.

Among the criteria she offered after that:

  1. Is it cloud-based?
  2. Does it connect with other systems in your martech stack, like a CMS or CRM?
  3. Prioritize the vendors that understand your business problem, that display thought leadership, and that have a strong product roadmap and customer case studies.

DAMs may not seem to be the most fascinating subject. But they can be the glue that connects disparate, siloed areas of the business. When companies like GE and Unilever that have a presence in nearly every country on the planet rely on a DAM to keep everyone on the same page, it’s proof of the power marketing departments can wield.