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Pathway to Profitability - The ASSISTTM Process



At The Collaboratory we understand the relationship between creativity and accountability. Which is why we've developed The ASSISTTM process to facilitate the entire communication experience. It's our playbook as well as playback. And it works. The process is flexible enough to accommodate companies that have an existing strategy; intuitive enough for companies that need one.

Analyze: We start with utilizing your insight, and if necessary, focus groups, to help us determine your brand identity and market niche. Our research and analysis of the marketing environment will identify your target market, and establish measurable communication goals and objectives. The purpose is to define the competitive landscape, and identify where you are, how you got there, and where you're heading.

Strategize: Consumer needs and wants will be identified. With that information, we develop a marketing strategy that communicates your brand personality on an emotional level. The strategy will identify the resources required to implement marketing communication objectives and position your brand to businesses or consumers in a convincing manner. Using a best practices model, the brand strategy includes a media plan and creative direction to write, design and deliver a compelling, integrated message that fits perfectly into our digital age. On-time. On-target. On budget.

Synthesize: What we say, how we say it, to whom we say it and when we say it will be integrated and developed based on the brand strategy. Graphic design, copywriting, photography, public relations, media planning, customer relationship management and all other forms of execution will focus on communicating the brand consistently.

Implement: From the presentation of the marketing strategy through every production step of the creative concept, our process is designed to constantly measure the message against the strategy, keeping it on track as scheduled across all media.

Summarize: Determine if the objectives were met, if our assumptions were accurate and if the media and creative were on target. In other words, "Did it get you where you want to be?" With that data we can define what needs to stay the same, what we should focus on and whether our communications should be changed.

Temper: Revisit the analysis questions with new insight from the marketing communication experience. Strengthen areas within the marketing strategy to address any weaknesses exposed via results of the summary. Refine the communications to more effectively reach the target and our objectives.

Finally: A noted advertising agency executive once put it this way: "If it doesn't sell, it's not creative." Before we invite any of our Clio winners, Emmy winners, or seasoned veterans to join our southeast Michigan group, we talk a bit about that.

We have consolidated our experience and refined industry best practices to provide clients with measurable results through insightful research; analysis; brand, creative and media strategy and delivery of effective communications.


Media

Effective media strategies go well beyond the numbers. Both strategic and creative, media is more than achieving low Cost Per Points and competitive rates; more than demographics, psychographics or statistical analysis...more than generating high reach, average frequencies or gross impressions. Although all of this is important, media is more than the sum of its parts.

Buying and Placement:
At The Collaboratory, we begin the entire media process by first working to thoroughly understand your business, your product and your audience. Who buys the product and why? What is the sales cycle/seasonality? How will the buy be measured-awareness or sales? We do the same analysis on your competitors. Who are they and where do they advertise? How much do they spend? What is the tone and appeal of their produced creative? We can analyze primary and secondary research, quarterly competitive spending reports, past buys and general market trends. The objective is to capture insight into how your messages will be received by your consumer. They will not experience your brand in a vacuum, but amidst a wide array of competitor's messages. Yours has to stand out. Period. We combine this research and evaluation with our media expertise to:

  • Establish reach/frequency goals.
  • Determine appropriate media vehicles.
  • Recommend weight levels.
  • Formalize a daypart mix.
  • Estimate actual audience delivery.
  • Project Cost Per Points, Cost Per Impressions, overall budget impact.

Delivery and Accountability

At The Collaboratory, accountability means much more than simply finishing up the paperwork and running the post-buy. It means staying in touch with stations and reps on a daily basis, arranging make-goods for poorly performing spots and being in a position to capitalize on late-breaking avails. It also means tracking spot placement daily, ensuring schedule clearance, reconciling invoices on a spot by spot basis, negotiating credits for incorrectly run spots and tracking actual Cost Per Points and overall Target Rating Point delivery.
Daily maintenance on all buys ensures that they deliver up to your goals. Buys are monitored and matched up actual overnight TV ratings delivery against estimated audience numbers. We also keep abreast of programming or format changes and monitor tear sheets for print schedules. If necessary, we adjust the buy within flight. With our system, there aren't any surprises when the final post-buy is done. In virtually all cases, any necessary make-goods have already run during the flight-when they were needed and not two months down the road.

Media Stretch and Added Value

Added value is an integral part of strong media negotiation. As part of our buying strategy, we routinely negotiate promotional enhancements to each schedule. Negotiating sweepstakes packages including everything from POP development to on air mentions and grand prizes.

  • Community service campaigns linked to clients.
  • Featuring products on nationally televised programs.
  • Remote packages to bring in third party sponsors.
  • Both local and national sales and crew incentive programs.
  • Trade show tie-ins including program ads, booth space and direct mail lists.
  • Key print placement positions, matching editorial content.
  • Increasing rate discounts and rate guarantees.
  • Bonus spots or bonus print ads to free web banner ads or direct mail pieces.
  • Increasing web click-through rates with no-charge text links.
  • Extending media budgets by up to 200% through the use of product trade.

Media Tools, Resources and Experience

  • media planning - media buying - reporting
  • Nielsen, Arbitron, Scarborough, Smartplus -; cost per point
  • Internet - television - radio - cable - print - out of home - non-traditional
  • regional & national buying - co-op support-budgeting, maintenance and traffic
  • locating new sources for funds - non-traditional revenue

We have analyzed, planned and bought media in every major market in the country (and hundreds of not-so-major markets).
We've placed consumer media locally, regionally and nationally in both traditional and non-traditional media.
We're adept with national business-to-business media vehicles.
In fact, our experience spans the globe.
From Television to the Internet, from Out-of-Home to International Magazines; our buyers have done it all.


Internet

Web development, like all other forms of communication, is more than banging out a page, running it up the flagpole and waiting for the phone to ring. It involves knowing your customer; their computer environment and their comfort level with technology. A thorough understanding of your business process is critical to facilitating your revenue stream and providing useful customer relationship management tools. The importance of conveying your brand throughout the user experience can't be overstated.

Scripting The Interactive Experience:
At The Collaboratory, we begin the web development process by researching your business, your product, your competition and your audience. Who is the target, what is the demographic, how will they find your site, what will they want when they get there? What bandwidth, monitor size, operating system, browser version, or what plug-ins will they need or have?
How can the web experience integrate with other forms of communication, and vice versa? How can it facilitate your operations, sales experiences or customer relationship management? How will you know if visitors are finding your site, what areas on your site are popular and what areas need attention? What keywords and search engines are they using?
How can you keep customers coming back? All questions answered and captured in the brand strategy.

Web Design

Copy, graphics, interface usability that tell your visitors they have reached the right place. Instantly. Our designers understand their responsibility to convey the brand consistently to your customer base through sight, sound and an aesthetically pleasing interactive experience. If your company is easy to work with and quick to respond, your site should be easy to locate, navigate through and it should download quickly.
Your company's front door is a virtual wall if it doesn't open. The same logic applies to your web presence. We make it easy for your customers and prospects to find the answer to their needs - your company.

Programming

How do you distinguish between good programming and that which can compromise your brand? Preferably before your customers "mouse" tells you by abandoning your site? By testing the site thoroughly before you launch it.
Do the graphics look as good as possible? Do they load quickly or without slowing down your visitor's experience? What happens across multiple platforms, with and without plug-ins, different browser versions or screen resolution variations?

Edits, changes and new content

A key component to getting your visitors to return is if there is something new and relevant to them on your site. We can edit and input new content on client's sites, or design and program the site to facilitate clients that want to do it themselves. Training your staff (presuming they already have some computer skills) to edit your site typically only takes a couple hours and you're off and running.

Search Engine Friendly

It all starts with structure. From researching keywords that make sense to your target to seamlessly integrated them into the content. Using varied meta tags on each page on your site to maximize the opportunity for top search page results. If you have a cluttered market, we can explore paid subscription opportunities on search engine sites and directories. Bottom line, if getting found through searching is an important component in your strategy, we will get you there. Take a look at our User Environment Statistics (this is a link to page 27 info) to see how your demographic uses the Internet.

Hosting and Reporting

You will have to look elsewhere for a headache. Our hosting is trouble free, replicated off site with its own back up power sources. And it comes with some pretty cool reporting capabilities. We can identify, by day, days, weeks or months what activity you have on your site. You can access and generate the reports yourself, live. Not only what platform your visitors are using, but what browser versions. You can identify where they came from (your link opportunities) what pages they go to and how long they stay. We can help you transform all of this information into actionable future plans for your site development.
You have access to administer your own email accounts and you can access your email remotely all through password-protected security.
We continue to train clients to administer content on their sites themselves. This is a great tool for Customer Relationship Management and it saves our clients money.


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