After landing the advertising account for Rational Software Corp. in 1998, Jane Deery, executive VP-managing director in the Boston office of Carat Freeman, had a $2 million ad budget at her disposal—not a lot of money but enough to get the message out. However, after assessing Rational Software’s existing marketing plans, Deery thought the company was spreading its budget a bit too thin, placing different product ads, for example, in the same software developer titles.
"When you are in so many places with a lot of one-shots it doesn’t make much sense to reach your target," said Deery, who joined Carat in 1997 as a supervisor and was quickly promoted to media director. "You have to talk directly to the target audience and send that message over and over again rather spreading it all over the map."
So Deery and her 50-person staff retooled Rational Software’s media plan to focus more on branding the company in the eyes of corporate America. More ad dollars flowed once Rational Software saw the direction Deery was headed.
The new media campaign took shape in print, radio and online. With print and online, Carat and Deery insisted that Rational Software use new, more creative ad formats to separate itself from the pack. By working closely with the media outlets involved, Carat developed several different creative formats for Rational that had not been placed before. These formats included goal post units in The Wall Street Journal; a French door gatefold off the cover of Application Development Trade; and a butterfly gatefold off the center spread, which opens to editorial, in both Fortune and Information Week.
In addition, Deery created a monthly newsletter produced by Rational Software to make sure all of its marketing and product managers are aware of what Carat is developing for the client.
Deery said constant communications gives her clients—including Citrix Systems Inc., Philips Electronics NV and Macromedia Inc.—a competitive advantage. She regularly meets with analysts to make sure she fully understands the target market before any media plan is executed. She also created a sales questionnaire that her clients distribute to their sales forces.
"A lot of the time marketing and sales don’t talk," Deery said. The questionnaire allows Deery to compare what she’s learned independently with what the sales force relays. "We take the combined information to try and find the sweet spot," she said.