In years past, companies like mine used to be called “full service” agencies. The term is a bit out of fashion in the modern era but the concept still applies. From traditional print and web services—including design and production—to more contemporary stuff like social media management, this is one-stop-shop if you’re looking for marketing, communication, or management.

why hire an agency?—Most clients are what I would considered ‘dedicated’, they hire me for a particular skill set. When you’re thinking about print advertising or web site development, it’s a pretty easy relationship to understand—you have something you need done, you hire Townsend Graphics to do it and that’s pretty much it. But why outsource your marketing? I think the simplest reason is that not every company needs or can afford to hire a full-time marketing director with all of the attendant wages, taxes, and benefits then put their hands together and pray it all works out. Still, many organizations could really use some professional help (not that kind) and contracting with me helps contain costs and provides a level of experience and expertise that can help propel a company to where it wants to go.

how do you get paid?—This is one of those questions that many clients are surprisingly (especially first-time clients) shy about asking but it’s pretty straightforward.

  • retainer—Many clients with developed marketing and communication plans want to be able to have access to help when its needed, treating the agency relationship much like they would a traditional employee. With retainers, the client and I agree on the basic amount of work I’m expected to do, we arrive at a mutually agreeable compensation for that work, account for everything (in detail) each month, and then settle any differences at the end of the year.
  • by the job—This is how most clients compensate work. You have something you want to have done, I estimate what it will take to get it done, and off we go. Terms vary by the size of the work, the length of time it may take to accomplish it, and if you’re a new or existing client. In general, smaller work (under $1000) that can be completed in less than a month is generally done on a 50% down, 50% upon delivery terms; larger work (over $1,000) that spans several months is usually split into thirds. For established clients, jobs are invoiced when they’re completed.

what are your terms?—All invoices are due upon receipt unless other arrangements have been made. Not becoming and involuntary lender is one of the ways I’m able to keep the hourly rates at a reasonably level and provide access to clients of all sizes and types.

do you accept commissions?—No, for a number of reasons. First, the best that can be said about accepting commissions (acting as agents) from a publication, printer, media outlet, or other production supplier is that during good times most clients tolerated it and when things become lean, they question the value outright. Secondly, being in the middle of a transaction you don’t control can have often undesirable outcomes, like when someone decides that they don’t like the work after they’ve taken delivery and decide not to pay for it. Their dissatisfaction doesn’t relieve the agency of their obligation. Not a good deal. Lastly, and I think most importantly, I want/need to be completely objective in sourcing and recommending the right production tool for each job and removing money from the equation helps me remain impartial. By not receiving commissions there is no question about who’s best interest I’m acting on.

is there any kind of work you don’t do?—Yes. I don’t work in broadcast or narrowcast television any longer. The market for these kinds of services is crowded with people who specialize in it, making it hard to be competitive and bring much to the table for clients. I also won’t work on anything ‘adult’ or of questionable moral value, jobs that require me to be away from home for extended periods of time, or work where I genuinely believe I can’t help you or produce real value. Other than those specific media or criteria, I’m pretty much game for anything.