In recent years, our sector has been using high volumes of digital materials to achieve strategic goals. Many of us are now swimming in servers of uncategorized photos, logos, PDFs, and videos. And many more of us are drowning in them.
There are times when we need to spend money to achieve engagement, awareness, and efficiency, and I argue that digital asset management (DAM) is one such expense.
Nonprofits brand, market, and advertise like businesses because that is how we raise awareness. And we have to do it well to stand out in an era of information overload. At our hospital, we’ve used cloud-based DAM to supercharge our marketing efforts. Over the past five years, the bump to efficiency, brand consistency, and collaboration have been immeasurable.
If you’re in the nonprofit world, here are five ways you can leverage digital asset management to amplify outreach.
1. Save time with self-service
We use photos, videos, logos, graphic standards, and branded templates for outreach. This adds up to a colossal number of files—5,867 to be exact.
Pre-DAM, we stored all these files on servers, and when anyone needed a file, they had to reach out to a designated digital asset caddy that could retrieve the right file. This could take hours or days, depending on demand.
DAM is self-service: Everyone who needs files can access them at will. We have a total of 600 users, 50 to 100 of whom use the system daily. None of them needs to request files anymore.
2. Make your brand consistent
How do you know if your team members are using the right digital assets? With a server system, you don’t. If one of your executives has learned that file requests take hours or even days, they will also be tempted to scrape assets from web pages or outdated assets. The results could be a PowerPoint or PDF with low-quality graphics and the old logo.
Our DAM system has protected the consistency of our brand and the quality of our digital assets. Of the 600 users, only a few have uploading privileges. Anyone can download files, but we alone can quickly and conveniently insure that the right files are on the cloud. We know that costly graphics and videos aren’t being shelved in favor of other assets because we can also track who uses the system.
3. Preserve your history
Prestigious, enduring nonprofits have extensive histories. News clips, radio recordings, TV footage, photos, and now web content document our efforts. And we know that in the nonprofit world, a big track record is a big confidence builder. Donors usually prefer to give to organizations that are established, successful, and capable of showing their achievements.
Historical assets help establish this credibility, but they are notoriously hard to store. Indeed, the National Records and Archives Administration estimates that an average recorded CD-R only lasts 5 to 10 years, despite manufacturer’s claims of 25 years. Magnetic media such as audio video tapes have a 10- to 20-year lifespan.
This means that nonprofits need to get CDs, tapes, and perhaps even floppy discs into secure cloud storage with redundancy (i.e., one or more copies in additional server locations). Otherwise, history dies.
Safeguard your history in a DAM system—the time and cost of digitizing this record will save major headaches and disappointment down the road.
The digital assets you already have are far more valuable than the assets you don’t yet have—that is, if you can find them. With DAM, we operate on a search first, shoot later basis. All our assets are tagged and keyword searchable so we can immediately determine if we have an image that already fits our purposes. If we don’t, then we can capture and edit additional photos. This way, we save more time and we reallocate resources for major photo shoots.
Our asset development process complements repurposing. Initially, our creative or video teams load raw images and video onto a server that is only accessible to our design team. The server is essentially a warehouse—only after creative services have manufactured the images and footage to perfection do we load them into the DAM system, our internal marketplace for finished products.
If more people use and reuse the finished products, we maximize our current resources.
It would be nice if marketing and digital teams had the bandwidth to create folders and subfolders for every imaginable type of image—but they don’t. Therefore, one of the biggest payoffs from DAM is categorization.
I have mentioned it above, but let’s dive deeper into the details. Categorization and tagging let asset users conceive and retrieve the way a novelist might tap into his or her own reservoir of ideas. A marketer can think, “I want a photo of a teenage, male, patient interacting with a female nurse,” and filter by those exact tags to find the image—or to determine that it does not yet exist.
DAM categorization lets your team members find the images they know they want instead of the generic photo that is just close enough.
In some nonprofit environments, not everyone is tech-savvy, but that does not mean your digital experts should be solely responsible for the retrieval of branded materials. Yes, have a DAM hero or two that maintains the system, but then save money and time and boost your organization’s reach by letting everyone share in the retrieval and proper use of digital assets.