DAM Guru Program In Depth — Part 2

DAM Guru Program recently passed its one-year milestone. In this three-part series, we’re taking a look into the operations of the Picturepark-managed program, and we’re hearing from program managers about what’s gone right and wrong during the program’s first year.

Part 1 of this series was an overview of the program that included a status update. In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways in which DAM Guru Program leverages the expertise of its members to help educate the DAM community. In the final article of this series, we’ll tackle some of the controversy surrounding a program of this type being managed by a DAM vendor.

Making DAM Stars

In addition to its member-match services, DAM Guru Program program offers services that put its more experienced members front and center.

First was the “DAM Pro Job Mashup,” which was a digital asset management job fair held in October, 2013. The idea was to make it easy for prospective employers to see experience profiles for DAM Guru Program members and, if interested, connect with the member.

Ben Smidt manages DAM Guru Program’s daily operations. He was one but is no longer a Picturepark employee.

“The idea made a lot of sense and many members took part,” Smidt says. “What didn’t make sense was limiting it to October.”

“That was my bad idea,” admitted program creator, David Diamond, who directs marketing for Picturepark. “It just didn't occur to me at the time what an obvious idea it was to let the job mashup run indefinitely.”

Smidt and Diamond decided to make the job fair a permanent fixture of the DAM Guru Program website. Profiles remain online until members ask that they be taken down, and new profiles are added whenever a member asks.

All job profiles are anonymous, so member identities aren’t disclosed. Interested employers fill out a simple form and their contact information is sent to the member. The member can then decide whether or not to followup. This enables members to job hunt without jeopardizing current employment, and it ensures that members don’t become targets for headhunters or competitors of their current employers.

In November of 2013, the program started publishing on its website weekly guru profiles. Smidt says the profiles are a natural extension of the concept behind the job fair. But in this case, of course, member identities are known.

Each profile is a short dialog that provides a glimpse into the guru’s experience history, complete with advice from the guru for those getting into DAM.

“It’s good for newbies to read these profiles because [the profiles] tell how our gurus got into this field and what challenges they’ve faced since,” said Smidt.

Taking member expertise exposure even further, DAM Guru Program now enables members to host their own webinars. Picturepark donates its webinar software and marketing automation system in order to manage the registrations, promotion, recording and distribution of the guru webinars. Hosting members are required only to create a presentation and, of course, show up to give the webinar. Everything else is handled by program managers.

“The Web is full of DAM webinars that promise best practices but then try to sell things,” Diamond said. “Meanwhile, people with real DAM information to share, like our guru members, don’t have access to the marketing machines required to put on and promote a webinar. Now they do.”

In addition, a DAM Guru Program discussion forum has been launched on LinkedIn. The forum offers DAM Guru Program members a casual place for discussions and to get to know one another better. Membership in DAM Guru Program is required to participate in the LinkedIn group but the forum’s content can be read by anyone.

“Some of the other DAM-related discussion groups on LinkedIn are not safe places for DAM newbies to post questions,” Smidt says. “There are a few people there who offer real advice, but too many sales people jump into the discussions just to call attention to their products. That isn’t going to happen in the DAM Guru Program discussion group because we won’t permit it.”

Diamond says DAM Guru Program will feature members in other ways later this year but the program’s new member services will keep everyone busy for a while.

“We have enough member webinars on the table to take us into 2015. And by then, I’m guessing we’ll have more.”

Program Changes for 2014

As DAM Guru Program has matured, a number of challenges have arisen. For example, gurus often ask to be matched with other gurus in order to have DAM discussions on a more advanced level. Then there are the newbies who are new to digital asset management but actually gurus in other areas of interest to other members, such as Web Content Management or CRM. When member questions relate to integrations, this DAM-adjacent expertise can be valuable. But because these members are classified as newbies, they are not connected with other newbies or gurus who might need some help with another technology.

Handling these situations proved difficult because the program’s management systems were designed for one-to-one matching across membership types, not many-to-many matching between anyone.

“It became time consuming enough to match a newbie with what might be 50 or more eligible gurus,” said Smidt. “If we expanded the program to permit any member to connect with any other member, this would have required an army of managers.”

But “anyone-to-anyone” matches were what members asked for most—particularly the gurus.

Members also wanted to be able to ask as many questions as they wanted, at any time. This was an operational problem because the program was designed to permit newbies to ask only one question, which they were asked (via form) at the time they joined the program. The assumption was that after a guru match was made, the newbie could ask as many questions as she or he wanted. But newbies had diverse questions that single gurus were often unable to handle.

To address these and other requests, Picturepark has made some significant operational changes to the program.

For starters, there is no more “guru” or “newbie” or “employer” distinction among members. Everyone is simply now a DAM Guru Program member.

In order to improve the quality of member matches, the program has asked members to submit a new membership form that offers more detail about their areas of expertise or interest.

Among the questions on the new form are a disclosure about being related in any way to an organization that sells DAM software or services. Diamond hopes this will serve as yet another reminder to gurus that their sales prowess is to be checked at the virtual door.

Also new is that any member can ask any question at any time. Each question is treated as a new member-match and, thanks to a more structured way of submitting questions, it’s now easier for program managers to find and validate matches.

“Member-matching is still a human process,” Smidt explains. “But now, when someone asks for a Xinet genius in the northeastern US, for example, I can find Carol [Thomas-Knipes] or someone else suitable, without having to conduct a lengthy search.”

Members are also now be able to choose whether they would like DAM vendor-associated members considered as member-matches for each of their questions. This is helpful, for example, if the question is about purchase advice and the requesting member would like to limit connections only to members who have nothing to sell.

In the final article of this series, we’ll tackle the elephant in the room: Should a DAM community resource be managed by a DAM vendor?


For more information about DAM Guru Program or to join, visit the program’s website at http://DAMGuru.com.

The view The DAM Guru Program In Depth Part 1, click here.

The view The DAM Guru Program In Depth Part 3, click here.

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