A Creative Management Platform (CMP) is far more than a design tool. It’s a way to bring together stakeholders from the organization across design, marketing, and sales. Appropriately deployed, a CMP can improve teamwork and increase productivity by streamlining the way multiple teams collaborate on creative development. Put simply, a CMP is a design hub for your entire organization.
The classic model of creative production faces several key challenges. First, there are conflicting schedules and priorities when it comes to creative development. Second, there are siloed departments. Brand designs and style guidelines are set in one department. Business priorities, sales, and market-specific requirements such as the need to produce retailer, channel, and region-specific content are determined in another department.
Schedules: In the classic model of creative production, design teams produce overall brand designs and brand style guidelines. Often overworked, these teams have to support a pre-set design calendar, which is often planned months or quarters in advance. On top of that, they have to handle urgent incoming requests, which only seem to get larger and more urgent by the day. At the same time, when it comes to ecommerce, marketing teams are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to promote products but are typically resource and budget constrained. Meanwhile, sales teams are presented with new promotional opportunities on a daily basis, through retailer matching programs, promotional events, and other opportunities brought to them by the market.
Market requirements: When it comes to design, the priority of design departments is to produce designs and design guidelines that are broad enough to be used across the entire company. Design teams and creative agencies need to support initiatives that are company-wide, such as corporate branding initiatives. As a result, they often don’t have the time or bandwidth to get up to speed on ecommerce specific design requirements. What’s more, ecommerce design requirements tend to change frequently, with new platforms arising, new formats being introduced, and even individual channels or retailers changing their design requirements on a monthly or quarterly basis.
As a result, design, sales, and marketing teams struggle to work together, as much as they would like to, due to these competing schedules and design priorities. These competing priorities often result in sub-optimal workflows, slower-than-desired design workflows, and frustration on the part of all involved.
How a Creative Management Platform can improve teamwork
Fortunately, with the right approach and the help of a Creative Management Platform, faster and more collaborative workflows can become the norm with:
- Ability to leverage assets from across PIM, DAM, and UGC systems
- A faster, more collaborative creative development process
- Automation to deal with repetitive tasks
- Streamlined workflows for proofing and approvals
- Faster delivery of finished creative to retail media networks, retailers, and PIM/DAM systems
Leverage assets from PIM, DAM, and UGC systems
Creative development processes are often blocked due to an inability to find key assets. While some ecommerce assets are stored in PIM systems, marketing, and design assets are often stored in DAM systems. Other systems such as platforms that store user-generated content (UGC) often come into play as well, if marketers want to incorporate content such as ratings and reviews into marketing assets. With different teams managing different systems, it’s often next to impossible to pull all the needed content in a timely manner to create marketing assets.
With a CMP, users can import assets from a variety of different sources directly into the platform. A CMP can import assets or asset feeds on a scheduled basis or on demand, and using feeds, API connections, or manual upload. All of these capabilities mean that a CMP is the design hub for your organization. Ratings and review content, images and video clips, brand kit elements, and retailer/channel requirements are brought together via a design hub. This improves the efficiency of the design process and makes it easier for team members from across the organization to work together.
Collaborative creative development
When it comes to the creative development process, stakeholders outside of design teams and agencies often have little to no control over the design assets. Creative that combines lifestyle imagery, product shots, and text, for example, are often produced and stored in complex layered files that exist solely on someone’s desktop and require complex design tools to work with. And online tools typically don’t support the file formats such as PSD files that design teams often work with. The result is that marketing and sales teams are often left with flat files containing finished designs—non-modular that are near impossible to edit, update and refresh.
With a CMP, designs are accessible to everyone in the organization (subject to permission settings). They’re stored online and easy to access, yet maintain their layered nature so they are easy to edit (that is, text and images are layered separately so they can be easily edited). At the same time, CMPs encode brand style guidelines such as brand-specific fonts, colors, and logos into brand kits called themes. This ensures that any designs produced for a specific brand adhere to that brand’s style guidelines.
With this standard access capability, designers, marketers, and salespeople can all access one system. Designers can set up templates and brand guidelines, while marketers and salespeople can easily log in to the system to update headlines, swap in different product images, or refresh backgrounds for seasonal events and opportunities. What’s more, agency partners or CMP Managed Services teams can also access the same platform.
A common platform for creative development, one that all users can access without complex tools or file formats, unlocks new collaboration opportunities for all team members. Here’s a simple, yet key example of that.
Suppose that a marketing team member has received an initial design from a design team or agency. Now that team member wants to try out a few different variations of some headline text or a CTA or wants to make a quick size or positioning adjustment to an image. With traditional design tools, the marketer would need to send a request back to the designer and wait for the designer to have time to make the updates and share them back—a time-consuming and frustrating process for both parties.
With a CMP, once the initial designs are ready, the marketer can simply log in, view those designs and directly edit them. And because the CMP uses each brand’s specific brand kit (theme) settings, both the designer and marketer can rest assured that the resulting creative will adhere to brand standards.
Creative automation to deal with repetitive design tasks
Not all design tasks are creative. Many design tasks involve making minor changes to existing designs, updating creative to reflect packaging changes, and creating similar videos or images but for different products in the portfolio. All of these tasks take away valuable time from the core creative work that design teams and agencies want to focus on.
Fortunately, the creative automation capabilities built into CMPs can streamline the process. These capabilities can automate the import of feed data, automatically position images in pre-built templates, and even generate text and color blocks to be included in designs.
These automation capabilities can take a significant load off design teams and free them up to focus on core creative tasks. At the same time, they can help marketing and sales teams produce versions of existing creative more quickly.
Streamlined proofing and approval workflows
With a CMP, proofing and approval workflows can also be streamlined. Users can share designs built in the Creative Management Platform directly with other stakeholders in the organization. Those stakeholders can then leave comments. Notifications are automatically sent back to the original designer of the assets. CMPs also include built-in review and approval processes, so assets shared via the CMP can be approved with the click of a button, rather than through an error-prone email process.
Because the approval process is built into the CMP, the platform maintains a log/history of the comments and approvals. This streamlined process can shave hours off the creative review cycle, allowing for more creative to be built in a shorter amount of time. And from a collaboration standpoint, users can log in at any time to see which assets are approved and download the latest versions.
Faster delivery of finished assets
Finally, a CMP can streamline the production and delivery of finished assets, avoiding hours of design team rework when it comes to retailer/channel-ready deliverables. Leading CMPs come with pre-built templates that adhere to retailer and channel specifications. This means that the finished assets conform to retailer and social media requirements for file sizing, dimensions, format, and naming. This can avoid hours of unnecessary rework if assets need to be updated and re-exported.
In addition to supporting direct download capabilities, CMPs support delivery to existing Product Information Management and Digital Asset Management systems. They also support delivery to other endpoints, such as retailer media networks; retailers like Amazon, Instacart, Target, and Walmart; and other demand-side platforms (DSPs).
CMPs can also maintain a log of what was delivered and when. This is useful for determining when specific creative ran on a given platform. These integrated production and delivery capabilities increase efficiencies when it comes to producing creative, reduce rework, and ensure that creative that is designed can be put to good use.
The technology stack for many parts of the ecommerce ecosystem has evolved over the past few years. Digital shelf analytics tools are the norm, as are PIM and DAM systems. But the approach and toolset for building high-quality creative at scale, across multiple platforms, is just now catching up.
Fortunately, Creative Management Platforms and the associated creative managed services that they typically come with are rapidly advancing how design, sales, marketing, and IT teams can collaborate when it comes to creative development.
To find out how to put Creative Management Platforms and managed services to work for your organization, please contact us.