In the previous two articles of this series, we learned about DAM Guru Program services, and we saw some of the new and forthcoming services that program creator and manager Picturepark has planned. In this final installment, we’ll address the question that is on the minds of many in the DAM community: Can Picturepark, a DAM software manufacturer, be trusted to manage what has become such a visible DAM community resource?
Picturepark Management Concerns
Despite all DAM Guru Program’s good intentions and successes, there are those who remain uneasy about such an increasingly powerful community resource being managed by a DAM software vendor. Many question whether a DAM vendor can be impartial when it comes to member-matching and data protections. Some have also speculated that DAM Guru Program is nothing more than a lead-generation source for Picturepark.
As one program member disclosed on a recent survey, “no one has tried to sell me anything yet, but I assume they will.”
Picturepark of course claims that none of these concerns are warranted, and the majority of DAM Guru Program members seem to agree, with only 11% of survey respondents saying they would prefer to see the program managed by another entity.
Does it bother DAM Guru Program creator and Picturepark marketing director, David Diamond, that some members would rather not see his company involved with a program it invented?
“It bothered me a whole lot at first,” he admits. “Ben and I were crushed that any member would think we hadn’t handled the program with integrity. But in all but one of these cases, it was a guru member who hadn't been matched with anyone. Members who were matched were happy. So we need to get more members matched.”
Smidt added that more than half of those who felt the program should not be managed by a DAM vendor still gave it a generally positive rating overall, suggesting that their opposition might more about principle than anything else. One objector, he says, left a note on her survey that read, “Thanks for all you do to help this DAM world connect.”
This doesn’t mean, however, that DAM Guru Program has been without its operational fouls.
Within a few weeks of its launch, a newbie member reported having been contacted by a DAM software salesperson. Worse, that salesperson was from Picturepark.
“They had to peel me off the ***king roof when I learned about this!” Diamond recalls.
But it turned out to a programming error made by Diamond himself that was to blame.
“I made a logic error in the program's data routing that pushed this member’s application over to sales side of the Picturepark CRM, where it appeared to be just another new lead. I fixed the problem and called the member to apologize. It hasn’t happened since.”
But the operational problems weren’t over yet.
Despite having invited competitor employees to participate, not a single one had completed the membership application. Diamond and Smidt thought nothing of this at first, assuming these were just competitors poking around to check things out. It eventually occurred to Diamond what was happening; unfortunately, though, there was no easy fix.
The problem was with Picturepark’s mailing system, which DAM Guru Program relies upon for member communications. The system was configured to block outbound email to known competitor domains, which is a common practice for companies trying to keep downloads out of the hands of rivals. But unless this could be corrected, or Picturepark was willing to make some policy changes, competitors would not be able to join the program.
“I have to admit that I sat on this for almost a month,” Diamond admits. “I just didn’t know what to do. On the one hand, I wanted competitor employees to be able to join DAM Guru Program. But I didn’t want them to start downloading and regurgitating via their blogs every white paper we ever published.”
Diamond worked with Act-On, the vendor that makes Picturepark’s marketing automation system, to see if there was a way to permit outbound DAM Guru Program emails to bypass the domain block. There wasn’t.
Picturepark decided to lift the email restriction so that vendors could complete their DAM Guru Program registrations. As a byproduct of the decision, other DAM vendors are now able to download any Picturepark white paper they like, and they can even signup for Picturepark live demo accounts.
“It’s true, we're wide open to competitors now,” Diamond confirms. “But we don’t care anymore. DAM Guru Program is more important than some trivial concern over educating competitors.”
After the email block was lifted, Diamond emailed competitors who had tried to sign up and he apologized for the problem.
Only Celum CEO Michael Kräftner ever responded.
“I can’t recall exactly what Michael said but he basically didn’t believe that the email block was unintentional. He said he didn’t plan to complete his application and, to this day, I don’t believe he has. We have several other Celum experts in the program now, though, so we’re covered there. But Michael is welcome back at any time.”
Willing to Share the Wealth?
Diamond says Picturepark initially considered opening DAM Guru Program to sponsorship from other DAM vendors. But Diamond first wanted to see which other DAM vendors would support the program without requiring any vested interest.
This didn’t turn out as he had hoped.
“When DAM Guru Program launched, I contacted my counterparts at other DAM vendors to ask them to support the program by at least retweeting our #GuruCalls,” he recalls. “Not a single DAM vendor ever did, even when those tweets mentioned their DAM system by name and were intended to help their own customers.”
Diamond understands how other DAM vendors could feel threatened by Picturepark’s stake in DAM Guru Program; but he thinks his counterparts need to rethink their positions because their jobs might depend on it.
“Digital Asset Management will fail as an industry unless DAM vendors start collectively educating people about the advantages DAM can offer,” he says. “DAM Guru Program newbies take their acquired DAM knowledge into the world and, in turn, explain the value of DAM to others. Our industry needs evangelists who possess genuine DAM knowledge, and that’s exactly what DAM Guru Program is trying to create. What we don’t need in this industry are more DAM ROI infographics—that’s content marketing noise; it’s not DAM education.”
Though it might sound as though Diamond has written off the idea of cooperating with other companies, he says the door remains open—with strings attached.
“We would consider partnering with other organizations to expand the reach of DAM Guru Program; but not at the cost of turning the program into a crass commercial operation that weakens its value to members. If some other player starts showing that they get the greater value in DAM Guru Program, they might get a call from us. Until then, DAM Guru Program will stay a Picturepark property because I know it’s safe here, and most of our members agree.”
Accidental Lead Generation
Still, with all Picturepark’s apparently sincere and good intentions, DAM Guru Program must help sell Picturepark DAM software. After all, program members know who’s paying the bills, and being known as the parent of such a high profile industry resource must offer some benefits.
Not surprisingly, Diamond has a detailed, if not rehearsed, response for what must be a common question.
“DAM Guru Program operations are isolated from Picturepark sales operations,” he insists. “Picturepark sales teams do not get notified when someone joins the program, and they are not consulted when a newbie is seeking system purchase advice.
“If there is some ‘halo’ effect on Picturepark because we started a program that people like, then so be it—in fact, I think it’s deserved. Anyone else could have started this but they didn’t. And any other DAM vendor or other DAM industry company could have been supporting it all this time but they haven’t.
“DAM Guru Program takes money and resources to manage. Picturepark is willing to foot the bill because we see the benefit in helping to educate and build the DAM community. We consider DAM Guru Program to be an investment in our industry. If this makes someone want to buy Picturepark, then good for us. But that was not our primary goal. We did this because we had the idea and we had the resources to make it happen.”
So, just how much effort is there in managing a program that’s growing at a rate of more than one new member each day?
“DAM Guru Program takes up all the time we’d otherwise have to create DAM ROI infographics,” Diamond laughs.
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 2, click here.