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Commissioned sales agents for selling map ads


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#1
Steven Gordon

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A chamber of commerce to whom I've submitted an RFP map proposal asked if I'd agree to use "chamber-approved" sales agents to sell some of the map-sponsoring advertising.

I can see some advantages but the drawbacks are assuming responsibility (liability) and drafting a sales commission contract. Ideally, I'd rather have the chamber assume all responsibility for their approved sales agents, except for paying the commission fee. I'd rather they assume liability and handle everything involved in it.

What is common and realistic in this situation?

Has anyone engaged sales agents to sell their map advertising?
Steven Gordon
Cartagram, LLC

#2
Derek Tonn

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Hi Steven!

I was going to take a crack at this one several days ago...but thought I'd wait to see what others had to say first. But since nobody else has offered up any thoughts, I thought I would share a few of my own.

Short answer for me is that if the Chamber of Commerce in-question is making me assume responsibility/liability for not only the illustration and information on the map, but also in the selling of ads and managing of clients, I would probably pass. If we're all honest, drawing the map (in this type of project) is probably the easiest task of the bunch! The real nightmare/headache is trying to solicit sponsors for the project, collecting funds, getting all of the artwork and info they need to appear on the design, etc. And if the CofC won't let you "control" that aspect (happily let you assume responsibility/liability for it, but then tell you how to do it), then I would probably walk away from the opportunity and let them bully some other freelancer/firm.

That said, if you really need/want the gig, you might ask them a lot more about who these "approved sales agents" might be, as well as their thoughts on why it makes more sense for you to "manage" them than for the CofC to do it...since I assume they already have an established relationship with said agents. And, if you agree to shoulder all of that headache/responsibility, take whatever you might charge to create the map illustration for the project, and probably triple it. Either that, or the per-hour ROI on the project is likely to be underwhelming.

Just my opinions, of course! But I know from both horror stories I have heard and projects I have been directly involved with that the scenario you describe sounds as though it has a fairly high probability of turning out to be a very frustrating, EXTRA-hard process to earn whatever "net" you get out of it. We all need heat, food, electricity, etc. But bowing down to clients and saying "thank you sir, may I have another?!" isn't in the long-term best interests of our financial/mental health. Or our community of other cartographers/illustrators/designers.

Hope that helps!
Derek Tonn
Founder and CEO
mapformation, LLC

datonn@mapformation.com
http://www.mapformation.com

#3
Steven Gordon

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Thanks, Derek. Good insights.

Last year, I created a map that had a city map on one side and a text and image city guide on the back. Partnering with the CoC, they helped get some of the advertisers while I beat the bushes to get the rest. They got a 10% fee from me at the end.

The map proved successful. I got great feedback from advertisers and I kept track of how fast the map was disappearing from public sites where it was distributed.

However, a longtime chamber member, a local newspaper, solicited the CoC and pitched the idea that they could buy the cartography for the map side and then do the layout, writing, and photography for the back side. They had the sales agents already and had their advertiser pool to work from. So they won the bid and have begun selling ads for what will be their version of my map.

I totally agree that the cartography was the easiest. Design and layout were tougher because there was a lot of research and writing involved. Making sales was the hardest. I think I'd hire my own sales agents next time--they're experts in sales and I'll stick with cartography and design. I'd try to base my contract on standard advertising agency or printer contracts for commissioned sales agents.

Your comments, Derek, remind me of the issues in graphic arts about doing "spec jobs" for potential clients. The Graphic Artists Guild has Pricing and Ethical Guide that looks at protecting the industry by refusing to work that way.
Steven Gordon
Cartagram, LLC




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