Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why are you called "Marketing Partners"?

Our name reflects how we approach our relationship with our clients. We believe working together collaboratively as partners results in more open, honest communication and ultimately more effective strategies and creative executions. Continuously collaborating with a client helps keep our efforts audience-focused and objectives-driven. As an agency driven by the power of ideas, we believe it is essential that we remain tactically neutral, and by retaining the freedom to seek out whatever mix of media and contact strategies best connects our concepts with your audience, we can ensure our ideas realize their full potential. This spirit of collaboration results in work that is enlivened by multiple perspectives and strengthened by engaged expertise to provide you with our best thinking.

Q. What do you mean by "client-agency partnership"?

Marketing Partners was founded on the principle of partnership. When we refer to a agency-client partnership relationship, it means people from both the client side and the agency work together as a collaborative team. We have found that for the partnership model to work well, the following elements need to be in place:

  • Both parties are responsible for and passionate about a shared goal
  • Both parties feel an ownership and pride in the work produced
  • The project hierarchy/organizational chart is established
  • A clear decision-making process is in place

It helps if both parties have a vested interest in achieving the goal, with metrics for success clearly defined at the outset.

Successful business partnerships are built on trust, confidence, understanding, and mutual success. These relationships require a pro-active effort on both sides to sustain and are critical to future growth. Client-agency relationships are widely recognized as one of the most complex in the business environment, requiring a sustained and substantial level of collaboration to be effective. We are proud to enjoy many successful collaborations with our long-standing clients.

Q. What does the Certified Management Consultant (CMC®) designation mean?

The Certified Management Consultant (CMC®) designation is awarded to a select group of consultants (only 10,000 worldwide) who have demonstrated that they produce substantive results, adhere to the IMC USA canon of ethics, and manage their practices professionally. The CMC designation represents a standard of competence and ethics that is accepted in 44 countries, including the U.S, and is the only consulting certification that has been ISO-accredited and recognized by the insurance industry as reducing risk.

The CMC program is a public service by the Institute of Management Consultants. The Institute has established high standards of technical competence, character, and experience for certified consultants who provide professional advice to clients. The CMC program was established to ensure that certain individuals have been tested and found to meet or exceed those standards. The certification enables users of management consulting services to select consultants or employees with greater confidence in the quality and reliability of the services they will receive. It is also a formal recognition on the part of his or her colleagues, acting through the Institute, that an applicant is considered well qualified to carry on the work of a management consultant.

Q. What is social marketing?

Social marketing is an audience-focused approach that uses commercial marketing tools to “sell” behaviors and ideas for the benefit of the individual or society. Today social marketing is often confused with social media marketing and cause marketing. To learn more about social marketing and how it differs from commercial marketing, see our longer explanation about the social marketing approach, or our many blog posts on the subject.

Q. We've never worked with a marketing firm or ad agency before. What are the advantages?

Here are some of the ways working with Marketing Partners can help you:

  • We bring fresh eyes and new ideas to help you achieve your goals, and then we collaborate with you to help make them happen.
  • You get to call on a team of creative, specially trained and experienced people to assist you when you need them — at a cost far less than hiring that talent for your company or agency.
  • Our advice and strategic planning is evidence-based and focused on what’s best for you, not swayed by a cookie-cutter consulting process or the latest, greatest marketing trend.
  • Projects are completed, on time and on budget, based on your customized work plan.
  • You have access to expensive proprietary resources for research, media databases, website analytics, media mining and monitoring, competitor information profiles, social media management, collaborative web-based tools, and the very latest in best practice studies and emerging opportunities across industries and sectors.
  • On your behalf, we negotiate the best price possible on production materials and collateral pieces. We share these cost estimates with you. We then hold our subcontractors and vendors to their estimates, avoiding overcharges and budget overruns. We will not approve an invoice for more than the estimate amount, plus ordered changes.
  • As an agency, we receive discounts on media purchases, printing, promotional items, and production expenses (films, photography, etc.). We pass these discounts on to our clients, unlike other commercial agencies that often keep the discounts and mark up expenses.
  • We work on our relationships with our suppliers. We give them information in a timely manner and in the format they prefer (electronic, fax, color proofs, etc.). We supply background briefs that describe the goals and tone of a project and a timeline for production, eliminating surprises. We make it as easy as possible for them to work with us efficiently to provide the best possible materials, on time and on budget.
  • We evaluate media based on your needs. We are creative in our approach to buying paid space and time. We look for frequency discounts, matched opportunities with editorial, and sufficient size or length to break through with your message. We also look for alternative media outlets and often use small, local publications and opportunities that other agencies overlook.
  • Even the best plans sometimes end in unexpected results. If there is a problem, we work on solutions, not blame. We evaluate, analyze, and develop options for our joint team.
  • Most importantly, we save you time to do what you do best because we've got your back — smoothly
    integrating your marketing, public relations, online, traditional and social media work to support your mission.

Q. Who owns or has copyright to creative materials?

Unless specifically requested to do otherwise by a client, Marketing Partners operates under the following standard terms, and requires any specialists such as photographers or illustrators under our creative direction to do the same:

"Upon full payment by the CLIENT, all products of Marketing Partners' work, including designs, copywriting, logos, slogans, or other marks, and final materials produced become the sole property of the CLIENT and may not be copyrighted or resold by Marketing Partners."

Please note that if you contract directly with a specialist, we cannot be responsible for negotiating what are referred to in our industry as "full buyout rights." Copyright and trademark law is a complex area, and we are not attorneys, so please check with your legal counsel if you have questions about your ownership rights for work produced by other firms.

Q. What is your pricing structure?

We charge professional fees based on our time and expertise. With Marketing Partners, you bypass all the expenses of mark-ups and commissions traditionally charged by agencies as well as the overhead of maintaining your own staff of skilled marketing and public relations professionals. You pay only for what you need when you need it. You also have the confidence that your marketing partners have no private interest or profit to gain from selling you materials, media placements, or software subscriptions you don't need.

Q. How does a retainer fee work?

A retainer fee is an annual arrangement based on your expected level of service, payable in monthly installments. This fixed-fee payment plan allows you to budget the same monthly fee, no matter how much of our services you may use in any given month. This eliminates budgeting surprises and guarantees control over expenditures. Monthly service levels are intended to average out over a twelve-month period. The annual agreement lets us reserve time with our staff to meet your needs and guarantees that our services will not be offered to a competitor in your industry.

Q. What services are included under retainer?

Our retainer fee includes planning and implementation of an annual workplan of integrated marketing communication activities, including regularly scheduled client meetings; general counsel on strategy, marketing, advertising, public relations, social media or collateral materials; creative briefs and production estimates for specific creative materials or other projects; background research, industry and issue monitoring; annual work plan updates and program reporting against metrics/objectives. 

When ongoing content marketing or public relations is a priority in your workplan, the fee includes copywriting for news releases, press kits, blog posts or website pages, development and use of specialized media lists, media contacts and arrangements, consultation to company/organization principals and designees on media relations, interview preparations, crisis management, and strategies for using "earned, owned and shared media" to build corporate and product identity and image, and use of Marketing Partners facilities, equipment and relevant professional services such as media databases, news wires, news clipping retrieval or social media management services. 

When integrating a website or blog is a priority in your workplan, the fee includes content freshening, routine maintenance and software updates, monthly backups, monitoring for compliance with SEO and security best practices, and website traffic tracking and reporting.

Q. How does a project assignment work?

For new clients, or for specific needs not covered under a retainer for a long-standing client, Marketing Partners also offers services on an as-needed project basis. Additional projects are estimated and billed separately. These may include, but are not limited to, website development, production of collateral materials, advertising production and placement, media planning, and major marketing plans or research projects.

Q. How do you handle OOPS?

Out-of-pocket expenses are billed separately and without mark-up. These include but are not limited to printing, photography, shipping and delivery, travel and mileage, postage, online charges, long distance telephone, and supplies. Prior approval will be requested for expenses over a limit set by each client.

Q. Do we need to change graphic designers to work with you?

Many of our clients have designers on staff or have positive long-standing relationships with a local graphic designer. There is no need to sever that relationship. We form a creative team for each client or project, and your designer simply becomes a member of our team. If, however, you don't have a designer, you are ready for a change, or we all agree there's a need for deeper or specialized capabilities, we can help you. We have in-house designers for print, web, and social media, and we have many firms in the area we work with on a regular basis for specific needs. No matter how you slice it, we manage the process for you so there's one budget, one schedule, and a single-minded focus on your positioning and marketing objectives.

Q. Where are you located?

Our King and Battery Street corner offices are on the street level in Burlington's beautiful Waterfront district. We delight in our view of Lake Champlain and the sun setting behind the mountains.

For a Google map to our office, click here.

Q. Do you accept internships?

The communication professionals at Marketing Partners are passionate about the practice of our craft, and we're always eager for an opportunity to share our knowledge and know-how with those who are preparing to enter the field. With this as our motivation, we implemented an internship program when the firm was founded.

About the Internship: Our internship is a for a college credit only educational experience based at Marketing Partners' Burlington office. Students learn about many aspects of the firm's work, including copywriting for PR, media and advertising, market and competitor research, social media strategy and implementation, and attending internal and client meetings.

Qualifications: To be considered, candidates should be juniors, seniors, or graduate-level students majoring in communication, English, public relations, journalism, advertising, graphic design, web design, media planning, political science or a related field.

The results have been rewarding – both for us and for the interns who've participated in our program. To date, we've provided an exceptional learning experience to numerous college students from Champlain College, St. Michael's College, Middlebury College, Norwich University, and the University of Vermont, in addition to Vermonters from colleges across the country who come home for the summer. For more information and how to apply, check out Internships.