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Stack to the future - PIM vs MRM vs DAM

Within the marketing technology (martech) stack, it’s vital to have single-point-of-truth solutions for your customer, product and asset data. People like to toss around acronyms like DAM, PIM, MRM and even MDM, but what do they all do, and what do you need to know to make the right choices?

By: Lydia Bird

The last thing any of us needs is another three-letter acronym, and yet it seems we can’t get enough of them. The typical tech stack probably features a CRM, CDP and DMP, with a chance of DAMs, PIMs, MAMs, PDMs and MDMs. Throw in a scattering of others from around the crowded martech landscape and it’s hard for even the software vendors to keep up.

But as the economic recovery falters, technology and training budgets continue to be pegged back. For marketers, the need to demonstrate value is acute and pressing. Outlying, niche software may be expendable, but core technology solutions need to be chosen carefully, deployed optimally, and actively promoted to deliver maximum value.

That’s particularly true of the resource, asset and information management solutions that are essential to the smooth-functioning of the sales and marketing operation. Yet even here all the three-letter acronyms can obscure the purpose of solutions, making it harder to choose the right package, and harder to set out the case for them as money gets tight. If you’re struggling to understand or explain product information management (PIM), marketing resource management (MRM), or digital asset management (DAM), here’s what you need to know.

What about DAMs, PAMs and MAMs?

DAM, PAM and MAM are three acronyms, which may be casually referenced in your office, with the assumption that everybody knows not just what they mean, but what the differences are. So, what are the finer points?

PIM (Product Information Management)

A product information management platform provides an authoritative record of everything the world needs to know about your products. This would include important specifications and legal information such as ingredients or applicable certifications, but it typically goes much further. A PIM record can contain documentation such as datasheets and product manuals, along with supporting media files – images, product videos and so-on.

PIM information makes it easy to create a centralised, high-quality database of your product information, and serve that up to everyone who needs it. This includes distribution partners and resellers, who can ensure they’re offering accurate data to the public.

Why is a PIM important to marketers?

The PIM is marketers’ opportunity to organically show products in their best light. Providing accurate, rich product data with lifestyle and product photography helps you present your products optimally in web stores. A PIM helps you control product presentation, ensuring a consistent experience across channels. Crafting product stories, case studies and other emotional content helps you lead on product virtues, and control and reinforce your brand story.

Who else benefits from a PIM?

eCommerce partners love to work with a PIM because PIM data simplifies the job of adding products to web shops, and improves the quality of the product data that’s available. Customers ultimately get better information, improving sales and satisfaction.

Don’t confuse a PIM with…
Product Data Management (PDM) platforms. While the PIM holds data that’s largely useful to customers and partners, PDM solutions focus on products’ more detailed technical specifications. These are more typically tools for internal stakeholders and supply-side partners, holding a repository of design, manufacturing, materials, compliance or financial data about a product.

MRM (Marketing Resource Management)

An MRM platform is all about managing the resources you need for efficient, streamlined marketing workflows. MRMs let you organise and even automate common marketing processes, helping manage the human, digital and physical resources you need to make marketing work.

While some MRMs focus on a subset of marketing functions and processes, more holistic solutions act as a kind of master project planner. A comprehensive MRM might include resource, task, budget and workflow management, as well as supporting and simplifying approvals and compliance processes.

Why is an MRM important to marketers?

Marketers can use an MRM as a way to streamline and standardise their processes, driving greater efficiency and raising ROI. Inbuilt management of the sign-off process helps speed up approvals, while providing an audit trail of checks and permissions. By helping standardise and centralise brand guidelines, an MRM can help focus brand messaging – both internally, and among external partners.

Who else benefits from an MRM?

Agency partners benefit from brands making the most of an MRM. By plugging in to client workflows, agencies can better manage their own resources to fulfil client requirements. The easy distribution of brand guidelines, approved messaging and assets helps ensure that agencies are on the right page, reducing the risk of mis-steps, or work that stalls while waiting for brand approval, input or data.

Don’t confuse an MRM with…

A DAM platform – see below.

DAM (Digital Asset Management)

A digital asset management (DAM) platform provides a single point of truth for all of a brand, organisation or project’s digital assets. Aside from the fundamentals of centralised, secure and robust storage, DAMs can often support and coordinate digital workflows among multiple internal, agency or freelance production partners.

DAMs may act as a gatekeeper to a company’s most valuable IP and digital resources, so security is a fundamental concern. The best provide granular, user-level access permissions, bolstered by additional features such as watermarking, or time-limited sharing. Cloud-based DAMs are architected for speed and stability, ensuring that even large assets can be shared easily and rapidly to the people who need them.

Why is a DAM important to marketers?

A DAM platform can be fundamental to marketing teams seeking to take control of, manage and maximise new and existing digital assets. DAMs provide a single, authoritative asset library that can be queried to retrieve the correct version of core assets such as logos, disclaimers, boilerplate copy or terms and conditions. During campaigns and projects, a DAM supports coordinated and version-controlled sharing between stakeholders, helping ensure consistency and prevent duplicated effort and confusion.

DAMs are invaluable to brands working in multiple territories, or with multiple agency and freelance partners. They help the brand retain control, while supporting workflows through secure data sharing – keeping valuable assets off less secure third-party sharing services. With fast ingest, distribution, search and retrieval features, DAMs can play a critical role in home working and business continuity programmes.

Who else benefits from a DAM?

DAM platforms can revolutionise client-agency workflows, plugging agencies directly into brand asset libraries and reducing the time lost to asset requests and manual sharing. With a centralised, client-managed asset store, agency and freelance partners don’t have to worry about secure sharing – and won’t be tempted to resort to freemium alternatives.

DAMs can be particularly useful to global or highly distributed teams working in different time zones. Contributors and partners can easily find and retrieve the assets they need without being bound to somebody else’s working hours. Equally, version control features mean they have the reassurance that they’re using the latest version of the source material they need.

Don’t confuse a DAM with…

A Media Asset Management (MAM) platform. These are a related concept, but MAMs focus on media assets such as images, videos and audio files. This requires specialisations including storage and upload support for large file sizes, and media-optimised metadata, indexing and search facilities.

Do marketing teams need a DAM that does it all? Why paying for features you don’t need can sap the budget you do. See why the Imagen platform is the perfect solution.

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