Chicago Agency Improves Its 'Dialogue' Between Clients and Partners

An agency with 10 global locations and 1,000 employees, The Marketing Store delivers expertise in customer relationship management (CRM), branding, package design, retail promotions, and experiential marketing.

“We are a ‘through the line’ agency,” says Rob Tarpey, studio manager for the company’s Chicago location, “offering above and below the line marketing promotions.” Projects include packaging programs, events, premiums—even designing and producing the toys found in kid’s fast food meals.

When the firm installed Dalim Software’s Dialogue system in 2008, it immediately improved efficiencies. Dialogue is saving the studio 8-12 hours for color approvals, says Tarpey. “Before, if we didn’t get a file out by noon, we had to wait till the next day,” he says. “Now, we can instantaneously pull the approvals. It takes a lot of the pressure off and makes us more agile.”

The Chicago studio, which likes to keep on top of sophisticated technologies, knew soft proofing was becoming a market force. It wanted to expedite its retouching and approval workflows, especially with the other global offices it works closely with. Finally, at the time of the installation, it didn’t have a hard copy system in house, and was looking to cut down on outsourced proofing costs.

Easy integration with Xinet, the backbone of the agency’s prepress database, made Dialogue immediately attractive. “We had a user base—both internal and external—that was familiar with Xinet,” says Tarpey. “With Dialogue, we could easily plug into our Xinet system, and didn’t need another site or another password. We were able to keep the user experience as unaffected as possible; this made it very attractive to us. ”


Immediate benefits

Benefits with Dialogue were immediate—it helped to enhance the internal retouching workflow—but it took a large-scale worldwide packaging project for a billion-dollar firm to demonstrate the full extent of what it could accomplish for the agency.

The project presented the studio with a challenge. Creative work for the project, including all the approvals and reviews, was handled by the agency’s Brand Design Experts in Birmingham, England, while Chicago completed most of the retouching and prepress. Agency account executives had to send files to the client’s local market approvers, located in locations throughout the world.

Dialogue allowed the studio to retouch, monitor color management, and track comments, while creative at Birmingham viewed the approvals at its site. All the work was marked up in Dialogue.

On the client side, accounts were set up for the approvers and only files that they needed to see were uploaded. “Dialogue let us track all the approvers’ comments and see at a glance when the files were looked at it,” says Tarpey. “A consolidated sheet of all the comments was generated automatically by Dialogue and sent to creative for job changes.”

The faster approval workflow was part of the package presented to the client. “That was a big factor in the job, and we made sure they were aware we were using the technology to make their project work more efficiently,” says Tarpey.

For the agency’s account people, the on-line collaborative process relieved them of the task of trying to decipher the client’s changes. Their comments, notes Tarpey, could be sent via email, fax—sometimes a paper napkin was used. “It took a lot of time to consolidate all the material for job changes,” he says.

“There is no question that Dialogue will continue to be a huge part of our color workflow and content approval process,” says Tarpey.