More to know about A Willing Participant, Inc.
Assembled for CICS
With a Willing Participant, you get...
The right skills to succeed
Experts in multiple methods
Transparency on timelines, process and billings
Process that immerses, produces and refines
WE'RE A FULL SERVICE AGENCY...
But these are the skills we offer that might be particularly great for you
Email marketing: strategy, writing/editing, design, testing, analysis
SEO optimization, Google ads and analytics: strategy, keywords/key phrases, copy editing
Social media: strategy, writing and design to drive awareness and participation (like for an open house, for example)
Marketing materials: write and design elements for consistent use (Powerpoint, stationery, flyers, brochures, signage, etc.)
Content development: blog content and PR to promote interest in the schools and encourage enrollement
ANALYSIS and REPORTING
You're never in the dark with what's going on with your projects. Here are just a few of the basics we offer from day one:
Social Media Dashboard
Weekly Status Reports
Monthly Hour Reconciliation Report
Email Campaign Reports
We'll work whichever way works best for you, but here's an idea that our clients seem to like most
We have found that many clients like the “monthly bucket” approach to billing because it gives them a predetermined number of agency hours to pull from in any given month. This flexible approach is at a set hourly rate of $150, across the entire team, without being locked into a use-it-or-lose-it style of retainer.
Let’s say you have a target of 30 hours a month with us. If you only had a handful of social media images/posts to do one month and we put 11 hours against it, you’d only be billed for those 11 hours at the end of the month. Hours left over “go away” without penalty; the next month starts again at 30 hours.
What if you go over in a particular month? It happens, but you’ll know about it sooner than not as we keep you up to date on hours with weekly reports so you can plan accordingly.
If you’d rather keep your ceiling of X hours each month regardless and we’re getting close? We let the a project flow into the the next month and cap our work at the agreed upon hours for the month.
Typically what happens, though, is the clients working under this arrangement have us reconcile as we go and bill accordingly. And because we’re tracking weekly, we can see if we are on target.
Here’s an example snapshot of a current client under this arrangement. You’ll see that they have gone over at times throughout the year, but have also been at or under in a few months as well.
With this set up, you’re not tied into doing only the projects you have lined up right now. For example, if one month requires 4 emails, that works. If you have just SEO and keyword content pieces and a few emails in a month, that works, too.
Basically, whatever creative projects and executions you need are covered under your monthly bucket of hours. And, of course, each is tracked on our end with its specific job number so you can see what’s going where.
Your hours cover new creative writing and design, strategic planning, revisions, SEO, reporting, etc. Best of all, you have the flexibility to fit in other one-offs and projects that come up from time to time.
This is, of course, a start, and you’re under no obligation to use all of your hours at any time. But this way you can plan out the rest of your 2021 budget expenses and have a good handle on just how much work that could cover for the year.
WHAT ABOUT BIG PROJECTS?
Let’s say you have a need for some larger scope projects—like a testimonial video or a new website. If it looks like that would be the only focus in the timeframe, we’d use the hours we’ve agreed upon. But if the scope is beyond that, or risks putting off other projects you need done, we’d quote these larger projects separately so you can see how that may impact your budget for the year. We’ve found this makes it easier for clients to track costs as well as plan for other projects.
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT?
You will notice we
are not an agency
in the typical sense
Instead, A Willing Participant is a “virtual workshop” staffed with the right experts, at the right time. These are not anonymous guns for hire or sourced from a creative temp agency…you are not going to get “whoever was available” on a project…and we don’t load up on teammates who don’t have a direct role in creating great work for you…
This is a group of people we've personally worked with over the last 25 years. They have been handpicked because we know they can deliver exactly what you need.
Just a handful of the stellar work we have done for our clients
USING BEST PRACTICES TO
EXCEED INDUSTRY BENCHMARKS
Why it's relevant to FlowMSP:
Post Campaign Analysis
Accelerate Institute is a Chicago-based non-profit who focuses on developing school leaders to close the achievement gap in urban schools. Because they have limited marketing funds, they were looking for a cost-effective way to reach potential candidates at the national level who would enroll in their training regimen. At the time they contacted A Willing Participant, they were sending out emails infrequently and were not seeing much response—in fact, even their “warm leads” were not as responsive as we would like to have seen. So we mapped out a communications plan with them, including a profile of their best segments, and got to work.
After the initial planning and profiling was done, the next big thing was to create templates that were visually consistent with the brand, but also in tone. It was also important that everything we built for them used best practices in email marketing (clear, concise copy, easy to identify calls to action, responsive words, etc.). As part of the build, we worked closely with their internal staff on how best to create and deploy emails, too, so that they could do smaller campaigns as needed without incurring more agency cost—and they could be confident that the emails were built on a sound strategy because they were using templates designed around those precepts.
Almost immediately across the board, we were able to see open rates that exceeded the industry benchmarks in the non-profit sector. This proved that best practices made a difference, but it was also a testament to the upfront planning and profiling that was done, too. Click thru rates beat industry norms as well, while the unsubscribe rates stayed under 1%, proving that relevant content is critical in this medium.
To date, A Willing Participant has created several hundred emails for Accelerate Institute and continues to test and refine the approach to make this the most cost-effective marketing tool they have to reach the right audience at precisely the right time.
RETHINKING THE USER EXPERIENCE TO
INCREASE CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT
Why it's relevant to FlowMSP:
UX audit and design
MRIGlobal is a contract research organization whose focus is technological and scientific research. Many of their projects are for the Department of Defense or Department of Energy. Heavy science, for sure, but they do get to do some occasional fun projects like developing the candy coating for M&Ms…so it melts in your mouth, not in your hand.
A Willing Participant was brought in to help improve their website performance. Although they were not running analytics at the time (that would come), they knew that the site could be frustrating for even the most astute, engaged user. As a result, they were seeing little engagement outside of direct referrals. That meant fewer projects in house which would threaten the funding model they relied on.
The very first step in any website build, or rebuild in this case, was to thoroughly review and understand the user experience (UX). This process helps us uncover any issues (like bad or broken navigation), but really it is critical to help us understand what the prospect is looking for and why they might be getting frustrated when it comes to finding what they need.
Basically, great UX makes sure your users can do what they want.
While our main role was to assist the internal staff at MRIGlobal with the rebuild, we did need to “sell up” the chain of command on why the UX stage is so important. That’s because internally there were some groups who just wanted to re-skin what they had and call it a day. We knew our approach here then had to be more about explaining the “why” UX is important and what it does versus just selling the “what” of UX. Getting everyone on board was going to be key to this being a success.
It worked. Our approach didn’t just get the skeptics to buy in on the idea behind great UX, it got them thinking about other divisions and sub sites that should be taking the same approach. As we moved into asset design and content development, we put plans in place for them to run analytics to see what was working as well as equip them with the tools they needed to update and refine as they moved forward.
WORKING TOGETHER FOR BETTER RESULTS
ONLINE AND OFFLINE
Why it's relevant to FlowMSP:
SEO planning, optimization and analysis;
integrating with existing marketing department
Within the global company Mercer is a group who is tasked with creating content that’s related to the products they sell. Mostly HR driven, these topics are timely and are in a highly-competitive space. The internal staff at Mercer knows their stuff, for sure, but they knew that they could use an assist on optimizing their SEO and keywords within their content so that their articles would show up higher in results versus their competition.
On top of that, a recent reshuffle within this department had left their marketing stuff a bit lean. They were faced with getting a lot done in the coming year (rewriting large sections of the website, email marketing, partnership marketing and direct mail, to name just a few) and they had less staff to get it done.
Mercer needed someone who could get up to speed quickly to help boost SEO while helping develop new content and design at the same time. They were referred to us by a past client, and we go to work almost immediately
We started by having a series of calls with their content development team to assess the full scope of what was needed, pain points, and topics we needed to focus on to outpace the competition. It was decided that their team would continue to create the content (about 12 articles at a time) and that A Willing Participant’s writers would assist with copy editing to boost the instances of high-indexing keywords and SEO enhancements.
In tandem with the content project, A Willing Participant was asked to revamp the email efforts across the board. Some of these emails were monthly newsletters, while others were one-offs for partners who worked with Mercer on certain topics. While it was a given that these emails needed to be on brand, it was absolutely critical that we incorporated best practices to get these emails to perform better than they had before.
On top of that, we were asked to bring our copywriting and design expertise to their direct mail efforts as well.
We are happy to report that the SEO and keyword work being done on the product/content for the site has done its job—page rankings are up and we continue to refine as things go along to stay on top of the competition. The pandemic threw a wrench into the monthly content development, but we have been able to revise some previous content for Mercer to get those back into the mix.
Revising the emails has resulted in templates that are easy to implement monthly and continue to perform very well. Beyond the writing and design, our coding team builds the html on these so the internal team at Mercer can drop them in easily. This has helped streamline the process considerably without incurring a lot of extra costs.
For the direct mail, we were only able to get two full campaigns out this year before the pandemic derailed those plans. That said, though, the two that went did very well in driving traffic and search volume, so those will pick up again as things return to normal in 2021.