Bartering is a creative way to approach compensation for your agency. Just be sure you can offer items or services of value that the agency principal(s) want or can make use of.
Marketing and advertising agencies, like most professional services firms, trade their time and expertise for dollars. Dollars are then turned into payroll, rent, health insurance, etc. in order to pursue the business of marketing. There often isn’t much in the way of physical goods that are sold by marketing firms, so most agencies are paid primarily for their time. But trading time for dollars doesn’t necessarily have to be the only thing traded.
Bartering for goods or services is an option that I know from first hand and anecdotal experience to be a viable one. The vast majority of marketing and advertising firms are small businesses with owners who are constantly working to be not only great marketers, but also successful business people. And bartering can be a smart business move if the the owners of the client firm and agency agree that trading something other than money for marketing services is in their best interests.
Barters can be suggested by either the client or the agency. At my client’s suggestion, my firm once created a website in exchange for a new, fully optioned Vespa scooter. The client was the new local Vespa dealer, and we’d already placed a value on the website by providing a cost estimate for the work. After consideration of the retail value of the Vespa, we agreed that the scooter-for-website deal was a good one.
If suggesting a barter, be realistic about the value of what you’re offering in exchange for what you’re trying to get.
The Vespa deal worked out well because each side was trading at full retail value, but internal costs for each were lower – and that’s really the key to successful bartering.
Don’t expect that you can always barter for everything; landlords, insurance companies, employees and others that need to be paid are less willing to “get creative” than marketing firms tend to be. But, if you’re a client with a fun product or service, don’t be surprised if your agency offers at some point to produce a marketing project for you in trade. If you’re agency is your partner, you’ll likely know if the owner(s) would be open to trading with you. So, don’t wait for your agency to bring up bartering. Just keep in mind that it must be a fair deal for both sides. An agency’s highest value asset is their talent, so don’t ask them to part with it unfairly, the same way you shouldn’t part with your product or service for a trade that’s out of balance.
Perhaps there’s a Lotus dealer out there in need of some comprehensive marketing. A Chrome Orange Elise would match the Rains | Birchard Marketing branding quite well and I’m sure Jon Rains and I could work something out.