January 26, 2012

Andrew Elvish Brings Tailored Services to M&S with Atelier ID (Part Two)

DTP: Can you describe one of the programs/initiatives you are most proud of?

AE: Well, obviously, I am exceptionally proud to have been a part of the team that created Presagis.  CAE made a very savvy move in acquiring the leading software companies in their respective technical specialties, but aligning all of those companies and products and technologies under one umbrella brand was a major undertaking.  Having the opportunity to lead such a significant rebranding effort was something that was both exciting and scary at the same time.  We wanted to honour all of the hard work that went into building the individual company and product brands that made up Presagis, while at the same time creating something new, powerful and industry changing.  But what made the Presagis project so rewarding was not just the re-branding that went on, it was the fact that I was working alongside a team of highly skilled engineers, product managers, sales executives and customer support experts, who were busy at work ensuring the products and technology lived up to the vision of a unified company and technology roadmap.  It was extremely challenging, but Presagis both as a brand and a portfolio of products, has gone from strength to strength over the past five years.  It is something for everyone who was involved to feel proud of.

DTP: At I/ITSEC we saw one of your clients, MASA Group really amp up their presence at the show. What is the company working on and how is Atelier ID helping them to achieve their goals?
AE: Thanks – I’m glad that you could see the change!  MASA is an excellent example of a company that is taking advantage of the changes in the M&S market to further the penetration of their constructive simulation products in both this market and others.  As a growing company, it became clear to MASA that both demand and competition were increasing for their brand of cutting-edge AI technology, and their potential market was expanding as well.  To ensure that they were maximizing their exposure and clearly communicating their competitive differentiators to their global audience, they turned to Atelier ID to begin working with them on a variety of out-bound marketing and PR initiatives.

Right now we are working with the MASA team to support them in their public relations outreach in North America and the U.K. as they continue their expansion into the homeland security, emergency management and serious games markets.  A move like this requires a company to leverage its skills and successes in its traditional markets while making its commitment to the new markets and their constituents clear.  So we are working with the team at MASA to ensure a strong central message that is meaningful across their worldwide M&S, homeland security and serious games markets, while developing stories that are resonant specifically to the concerns and needs of each group of potential clients. We also have a few other exciting new projects coming down the pipe, so you’ll have to stay tuned!

DTP: You and I have talked at great length about the value of integrating marketing and PR programs to get the most out of a campaign. Do you have any advice for companies that may just be starting to approach this?

AE: The first thing, and it seems obvious, but know who you are before you do anything.  How do people perceive your company and its products?  How do you want to be perceived?  What is your story?  What is your brand promise?  Who are you now, and who do you want to become?  If you have trouble articulating answers to these questions then you would do well to take a bit of time to solidify some thinking around these points.  The reason I say this is that if a company does not have a solid, well-articulated picture of who it is and where its going then increased marketing and public relations could serve to underscore this lack of direction, and it could have serious consequences for both the brand and the company.  The good news is that the vast majority of companies intuitively know who they are and where they are going, and it is a matter of firming up the story, getting internal buy-in and writing it down – start simple, but stay consistent.  This way, you have a central document that can act as a guideline for all of your outbound activities whether that is PR, email marketing, events, tweets or graphic design.  In so doing you have a fundamental thread that runs through all of your activities and enables one activity to enhance and amplify the next activity.  The more you stick to telling your unique story in a consistent and disciplined way, the more your customers will ‘know’ you and feel comfortable approaching you.

DTP: One of the fun things about working in marketing is the opportunity to shake things up with a BIG idea. At the same time, this can be scary for companies that aren’t used to taking risks in a creative capacity or within a conservative industry. What advice can you give to people looking to create transformational programs?
AE: Don’t be afraid!  Trust me, if you take a calculated risk and execute it flawlessly, I can guarantee you that your competitors will be following your lead in six months.  The key words are calculated risk, and flawless execution – those are the parts that take planning and preparation.  Also, part of this comes back to knowing yourself as a company – is your big idea consistent with who you are, or who you would like to become, or is it simply a big idea?  Once you know the answer to that then you need to build a plan and flesh out the details – if the idea is big enough, or if it’s a bit off the beaten track, you can be sure you will get lots of questions about why you are doing it.  That’s nothing to be afraid of, but you should know yourself how to address skeptics, or naysayers – the best plan for this is to know why you are initiating a big idea and what the desired outcome is.  Next be sure and build buy-in, both internally and externally.  Having your entire company excited about a project means that they are likely to endorse and engage with the big idea, helping spread its effectiveness and reach.  Externally, bring on board some key influencers outside of your company, or at very least solicit their input and opinion.  Again, having a core of support for your initiative out of the gate is an excellent way of ensuring success.  Finally, set out a plan to build anticipation and buzz around your initiative whether it’s a new advertising campaign, a micro-site, a conference or seminar, getting people curious is important.   It isn’t easy to launch a new big idea into the market, but if it is thoughtful, well-planned and relevant to your target audience then you stand a strong chance of success.  (and afterwards when you see your competitors doing the same thing six/twelve months later you can take the satisfaction that you did it first … and probably better ;)

DTP: What can we expect from Atelier ID in 2012 – any hints on your big ideas?
AE: Right now all of our big ideas are for our clients!  Honestly, starting a new business with a roster of clients, means that you have very little time for the promotion of your own business – I am actually still surprised we found the time to get our website up and running!  Nevertheless, 2012 is already shaping up to have a slew of interesting new projects on the horizon.  Our experience in 3D graphics and M&S software has given us entry into some new fields including the RFID market, personal and retail security, as well as high-end electronic component design.  So I doubt there will a dull moment in 2012 for Atelier ID.


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