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What is a DAM, PIM, CMS, CRM, & MRM and How Do They Fit Together?

Ben Owen

By Ben Owen | Nov 18, 2021

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Have you ever played with LEGOs? If so, you’ve probably done it in two ways. One way is by using your imagination and putting random pieces together creatively to build something completely new. While your construction may have been incredibly impressive, it may also have ended up looking messy and thrown together. The other way by buying a set designed to build something specific. These pieces typically have fancy features that make using them more fun and the end result more satisfying. The primary difference between the two ways of using LEGOs is that sets come with instructions.

It’s much easier to build something useful if you know how its pieces are supposed to work together. This is true when making something out of LEGOs and also for managing your organization’s digital content. Many creative and marketing workflows utilize a variety of different systems and standards. These include PIMs, CMS’s, MRMs, CRMs, and DAMs. Just like with LEGOs, there are two ways to use these different systems to build a digital asset management system. You can wing it and throw the parts together in hopes of making something functional, but odds are it will be messy and ineffective. Or you can reference a set of basic instructions on how to build a system that will suit your organization’s needs. The purpose of this article is to provide you with some helpful guidelines.

Defining the Puzzle Pieces

To know how to properly integrate the different systems used in a complex workflow, you must first understand the function of each. Below is a basic description of the core role of each system involved in the creative process.

  • Product Information Systems (PIMs)

Product Information Systems directly service any teams in an organization that deal in product information. This information includes technical specifications, data around the product’s usage, testimonials and reviews, and images, videos, and PDFs that display the product. PIMs send this information directly to the organization’s ecommerce platform, sales applications, or print publications. Salespeople and retailers are the core users of these systems, pulling product information to send to suppliers and consumers alike.

  • Content Management Systems (CMSs)

Every brand in the modern era has a website. It’s an absolute must-have for any brand looking to grow. For many organizations, however, the creation and maintenance of a website, especially in this digital and visual age, falls outside the expertise of most of their employees. A CMS solves this problem by allowing your team to manage, modify, and publish website content easily. This includes photos, videos, resources, or templates that may be used.

  • Marketing Resource Management (MRM) Systems

MRMs are at the same time one of the most specific and most holistic systems included in many tech stacks. These systems are used by marketing professionals to create and distribute compelling creative content, manage projects and budgets, and plan events.

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

Where MRM systems service a majority of the marketing team’s processes, CRMs do the same for the sales team. These systems are databases that hold information about leads and prospects, communication with them, and sales materials. The sales team uses these systems to ensure that their messaging and branding are consistent and transparent to internal teams and the consumers they’re selling to.

  • Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systems

No matter how built-out an organization’s sales or marketing team is, it’s still likely to use a DAM. This is because every organization, large or small, creates digital assets to use for their website, social media, advertising, print marketing, and sales or other creative materials. DAMs serve as the single source of truth for all digital content by making it searchable, organized, secure, and easy to access.

Putting the Pieces Together

If you look for common denominators between the different systems described above, one thing stands out. Every system in the standard creative tech stack uses digital content. PIMs need images or videos of the products and their specs. CMSs publish all manner of content to the web in the appropriate format and size. MRM systems hold marketing materials used to connect with consumers, grow the brand, and create brand loyalty through visuals. CRMs help salespeople ensure that consistent content is put in front of prospects.

Due to this common thread, the DAM system is the logical choice to be the centerpiece of your creative tech stack. As the single source of truth for the digital content used across the organization, the DAM is the most important program to manage and maintain to ensure that the rest of the systems stay healthy. Many organizations that lack formal DAMs struggle with siloed teams. DAMs unify the organization and various technologies through consistent, secure, and searchable digital content. If you’re wondering where to begin building a more comprehensive creative workflow, start with a DAM system.


If your organization is struggling to properly manage digital content in a unified and consistent way, begin by getting your digital assets under control. If you need help, contact Stacks! We work with organizations in all manner of situations and of all sizes to design effective and scalable solutions that can be the centerpiece of their tech stack. To learn more about getting started with DAM, see our other blog posts on this topic.

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