It's Thursday at 3 p.m., and a major wireless company decides to drop its monthly rate to $19. The company wants to splash this price break in Saturday newspapers across the country, but the deadline for ads is 5 p.m. -- in two hours.
What used to be a logistical nightmare for advertisers is now no problem, says Philip Alexander, president of Web-based marketing firm BrandMuscle Inc.
"We can build and send 400 ads in about an hour and a half," Alexander says. "That used to take four days."
Alexander's brainchild, BrandMuscle's Web application, allows clients to design print, billboard, radio and other advertising step by step using templates and inserting different images and copy to localize it for their market.
The goal of BrandMuscle's application, designed by marketing and advertising veterans, is to keep a client's message and campaign consistent throughout the country, Alexander says. For example, if auto dealers in northern states want to advertise sport utility vehicles, and southern dealers want to push convertibles, all the ads can have a consistent recognizable message and imagery.
That allows companies not only to better control the message, but to measure its success.
"In the past, there would always be a fight between the local dealers and corporate," Alexander says. "The dealers would say, 'This is the ad that works best for me,' and corporate would say, 'That isn't what we want to advertise, so we're not going to help fund it.' This system offers much more flexibility."
The main challenge behind the BrandMuscle application was to create a standard interface that could be used on any computer operating system.
"Most advertising is created on Macintoshes," Alexander says. "We've taken an Oracle database and the creative concepts that a Mac has, and we've a built a complete electronic advertising management system. In the past, there was no such thing."
BrandMuscle's clients include BMW, MINI USA, AT&T Wireless, Saks Department Store Group, Hallmark and Nestle. The firm closed $5 million in second-round financing last year, with projections to turn a profit by year-end, Alexander says. How to reach: BrandMuscle, (216) 464-4342 or www.brandmuscle.com