Hardworking Gal

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I run an internet marketing company. We spent years cultivating the
marketing manager at a large prospective client. But the owner is a
“good old boy” who wanted to hire a friend of his who runs an
advertising firm. The joke is on him that his friend turned around and
subcontracted the work to us. We did a great job and their sales went
up quickly. Generally we bid jobs at a fixed monthly price, even
though we invest a lot more work at the front end. Once the
company’s sales went up, the ad guy said he was going to take the
contract back, and is now taking all the credit for the success with his
buddy. Even though I am in a service business, I feel used. Do I have
any redress?

Hardworking Gal

Dear Hardworking:

First of all, you need a better contract when you subcontract to
someone. It should commit the person who hires you to pay for at
least enough guaranteed months for you to recoup your front-end
investment of time and work. Also, perhaps you should consider fees
that compensate you for the set up work (maybe double for months
one and two) as well as a cancellation fee if the contract is cancelled
for reasons other than non-performance.

While you cannot compel the ad guy to give you credit, unless your
contract with him binds you to confidentiality you should have free rein
to re-connect with the inside marketing manager who likes you. Send
her an email that says: You may or may not be aware that we
performed the internet work you contracted with Adman X’s company
to do. We did a great job as I am sure you can tell from sales. I
understand Adman X is your boss’s friend. But if you want to save
money over time, and come to the folks who really understand the
mechanics of internet marketing, I’d be happy to meet and talk with
you and your boss. There’s always the risk that Adman finds out and
you don’t get any more work from him. But unless you have a
business plan that’s built on loss leaders, you’d do better to cut out the
middle guy and market yourself directly.