"Catch a man a fish, and you can sell it to him. Teach a man to fish, and you ruin a wonderful business opportunity." – Karl Marx
We were recently asked to contribute some content to a trade publication by one of our clients who are a regional leader in their industry. This client so appreciated one of VFC's standard offerings that he wanted us to expose its virtues so that others could benefit from setting up a similar resource.
A Little Secret
Now, we are all for helping small businesses by offering suggestions and recommendations– in fact, that is the intention of every Marketing 101 column in the Route 422 Business Advisor. Every article identifies a problem or challenge to small business marketing and we explore the tools and processes that VFC, as a small business advertising agency, would employ to proactively address the issue.
Still, we become reluctant when we're not only asked to reveal a marketing device that we have invented and perfected but are asked to allow it to be published for the world to replicate. In all honesty, if it were only small businesses utilizing the advice to improve their marketing games we'd be ecstatic, but when other agencies begin emulating our offering we get irritable. But, as the saying goes, 'competition breeds excellence,' so we complied with the client request and offer this idea here, to small business readers as well.
The device in question is by no means a trade secret. In fact, there are likely hundreds of advertising agencies offering online asset management to their clients. Using online assets properly, however, requires organization and rules that differentiate this marketing device as valuable tool in your marketing success.
When someone requests your company's logo, is it a mad dash through multiple hard drives and compact discs to fulfill the request? Do you have to communicate with the requester several times to provide the logo in the correct format? Does your logo often look unprofessional when it is finally received and utilized by the person or group requesting it? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions you could probably benefit from developing an online asset archive.
What's the Meaning of This?
Online assets are exactly what they sound like, a collection of assets that are posted on the Internet so that they're always readily available. In this case the assets are for a brand– your brand– and they can be available for any number of uses that will save you time and money.
Online assets generally include logos, support branding, corporate signatures and other identity elements, but a growing number of asset collections that we are organizing and publishing for clients also include photo galleries, display advertisements, forms and banner ads.
As with anything that represents your business, you want to protect your asset archive to some extent. Even though you're creating an online collection of all of your brand elements you do not want just anybody gaining access to it. You wouldn't, for instance, include a link to the assets in your site navigation and you might be wise to consider password protecting the online assets directory.
Once and Done
The initial task of organizing all of your company assets– whether or not you elect to place them online– is going to streamline many of your marketing efforts. As you know, the vast majority of marketing done by small businesses is quick and inexpensive where many times a logo or business card represents an advertisement. Once you have your company's corporate signatures organized locally and/or online you can maintain changes and keep your staff and all applicable vendors up to date quickly and easily. Now you can make instantly available those things that are requested most often.
Something for Everyone
Different publications, events and vendors are going to require your assets in different formats but almost none want to receive a logo in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Publisher. With an organized resource like online assets your company can now provide the logo, ad or photo in the exact format in which it was requested.
Within the assets folder– which can be as simple as an open, readable directory– you should organize assets by category (logos, ads, photos, forms, etc.) and then provide multiple choices for each asset based on common size, color and format requests.
Using logos as an example, VFC always includes, at least, both a one-color and four-color version as an .eps, .pdf and .jpg file type in large size because files can always be scaled down but unless it's an .eps it cannot be scaled up. Remember you can also include standard sized ads with a message that will work anywhere and any time and your most requested company forms.
The key is to provide a safe, accessible place for all of the digital assets most requested by your customers and vendors.
Going the Extra Mile
Now that you've organized your company's corporate assets the next logical step is to develop a set of brand standards and to post them as the very first link in your online assets. Brand standards are a document defining your company colors, typography and logo usage so that, when someone does download a logo from the assets, they use it correctly.
It's no secret that, when you, as an owner or manager of a proactive company, can quickly and easily get your hands on the correct piece of advertising art without contacting or paying a professional, you're economically becoming involved in the process of building the business which is very important for companies on a tight marketing budget. Contact me directly to review examples of brand standards or asset archives and to discuss how they can help your business no matter what size you are!