Philly Creative Guide

Guest Columnist

Todd Palmer

Excellent service = Excellent marketing
Make damage control part of your core competency
by Todd Palmer, 1 Feb 2007

Todd Palmer is Creative Director for Virtual Farm Creative, Inc., a full service advertising, marketing and multimedia firm, growing excellent traditional and Internet branding from a 200-year-old high-tech farmhouse in Chester County. Visit them at, email them at [email protected] or call toll-free 877-GROW ART

If you're a photographer on location, you can expect cloud cover. If you're an account executive, you can expect the client to demand the job a day early. If you're an art director, you can expect designers to inject unwanted style at deadline. If you're a multimedia director, you can expect code conflict just before you compile. If you're a production manager, you can expect just about every other thing throughout your workday to go wrong...

So many components, employees and vendors team up to bring projects to successful completion that your entire team would be wise to expect the unexpected at all times.


Damage can always be averted as soon as it is detected, and proactive organization is the best way of detecting any potential problems.

Not only does our firm collect dated and signed approvals during every stage of a project's life, but each job is accompanied by a checklist that must be completed before any job is shipped to a publication, printer, web or client. When clients consider the alternative, multiple approvals are a piece of cake.

This notion highlights the most vital tool in your new damage control arsenal: communication. Not only is it crucial to be completely accessible to your clients during critical jobs, but you should be in constant contact with them as well, preparing them for any eventuality. The fewer surprises you spring on clients, the better off you'll both be.

Todd Palmer, Creative Director for Virtual Farm Creative, Inc.

Most clients appreciate knowing the continual status of a job and they feel safer every time they are informed of ongoing progress. A client can track track the status of any job by clicking on "Milestones" in our web-based proofing and review center. These are the types of features a small agency can easily and economically incorporate to better control potential mishaps.

By utilizing some basic technology, it is easy and economical to remain accessible to all clients at all times.


We were recently confronted with a unique challenge when a client approved a collateral package and requested delivery three days later for use in the nation's largest trade show in their industry.

Rather than making your first instinct immediate denial, consider possible solutions. When we did, we were able to find a creative answer that got the material to the client in time for the exhibition and allowed us to say that we did not miss the original deadline.

After calling several vendors, we ultimately called in a favor that made a printer get creative with their scheduling. Getting the job produced was no small feat; getting it to San Francisco from Philadelphia on a Sunday was even harder. The solution turned out to be our Creative Director substituting his luggage for the boxes of brochures on a 6am flight to Frisco where he personally delivered the materials to the marketing director in the lobby of her hotel.

The CEO of the company was heard to say, "We need more vendors like them." But impressing the client wasn't the goal – controlling the damage was. We met their deadline and kept our reputation for developing service solutions that are as dynamic and inspiring as our creative ones.

Of course, you do not want to have to jet to Cali every time a client flinches, and by staying organized and accessible, you should not have to. You are probably thinking that solution was much too costly for a small agency to undertake, but it was actually less expensive than same day delivery across the country, and it underscored the type of personal service we are willing to deliver to all of our clients. It was an investment.

Before he caught the red-eye back home, our CD managed to make several promising new business contacts on the left coast. When they heard why he was there, the prospects were more than intrigued, proving that excellent service really is excellent marketing.

Print Article Brought to you by: Todd Palmer | Creative Director for Virtual Farm Creative, Inc.

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