Everything you’d expect from a full-service agency

...without the high agency fees.

 

A Willing Participant is a multi-talented, multi-tasking creative agency based in Chicago.

 

Experts at telling the right story at the right time with the right tools.

 

Skilled at making more than something out of sometimes nothing.

 

Absolute killers when it comes to getting better response.

 

What is it, exactly, we do?   

 

- Online and offline design  

- Copywriting for every situation 

- Website builds and UX optimization 

- DRTV/Video production 

- Email campaign development and management 

- Mini-documentaries 

- Content development 

- Newsletter editorial and management 

- SEO audits and implementation 

- Presentation planning and development 

- New business consulting and strategy

 

Give us a shot and you're sure to be impressed at out time to turnaround and our pricing. Looking forward to creating something great together.

 
$5,000+
 
$100 - $149 / hr
 
2 - 9
 Founded
2014
Show all +
Chicago, IL
headquarters
  • 1049 W. Wellington Avenue UNIT 3B
    Chicago, IL 60657
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Accelerate Institute, Children's Home and Aid, Deloro Wear Solutions, Independence-4-Seniors, MRI Global

Annual Report Image

Annual Report

This award-winning design came about because of the great photography that was available for use—these are actual “day in the life” candid photos from the school that is affiliated with Accelerate Institute. 

Informational/pre-meeting Brochure Image

Informational/pre-meeting Brochure

Breaking through the clutter is no easy task when it comes to getting the attention of meeting planners. So the team at AWP decided to keep things aspirational and to the point—essentially, even the sky is no limit when you work with BCD. Keeping the background information and details on the leander side showed meeting planners that BCD wasn’t going to waste their time. Instead, they would get to the point and showcase that

their straightforward approach is what’s needed in the hectic meetings and events space.
Consumer Acquisition Campaign Image

Consumer Acquisition Campaign

Credit cards are a part of every day life to the point where they’re easy to take for granted. AWP needed to develop a card campaign that fit the Nissan brand perfectly and showcased the advantages of having a Nissan Visa Card. And it couldn’t be confined to just the dealership, so AWP developed online campaigns, retail signage and direct mail to get the word on the street about the Citi Nissan Card. 

Shot in just over 2 days, we had to tell the story of the Filtration Group and how they're making the world a healthier, cleaner and safer place.

It was 25 years ago when the idea of Accelerate Institute was born. This is the story of their journey and how they are impacting generations of kids. Shot over several days, this video is the showpiece at the client's annual fundraising dinner.

This 2017 First Place Telly Award winner tells the story of Alexa Sorden, Leading a school in the poorest Congressional district in the US is a daily struggle. But Principal Alexa Sorden has the grit and vision to turn her school into a success story.

Online Fundraising Campaign Image

Online Fundraising Campaign

As fundraisers face more and more competition for donations, they need to branch out from the traditional channels (mail and print) to appeal to a new audience. This campaign was developed by AWP and used Facebook ads and a microsite to capture a new audience. The results were impressive, revealing that there was a entirely new way to reach a younger demographic and encourage them to support the cause. 

This :15 spot hit on the feelings that many have around and after the holidays when it comes to credit.

Short Form DRTV

This :15 tells the viewer immediately that gambling on a home loan is probably not the best idea...

Reviews

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Design Services for Marketing Company

"A Willing Participant, Inc. knows a lot more about creative than I do, so I often let them take the lead."

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Jun. 2014 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

A Willing Participant, Inc. provides ongoing design services to the clients of a marketing agency. They handle banner ads, email headers, and newspaper ads.

The Reviewer
 
11- 50 Employees
 
Elmhurst, Illinois
James Prueter
Senior Account Executive, The Stevens Group
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Their work has received positive feedback from key stakeholders, resulting in significant client retention rates. Expertise and meticulousness are hallmarks of their work. A Willing Participant, Inc.’s deep understanding of design helps them meet deadlines and makes them a valuable partner.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there. 

I’m a senior account executive for The Stevens Group. We’re a marketing company and our work ranges from print to apparel, premiums, and digital marketing.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with A Willing Participant, Inc.?

While we have a creative services team, I outsource design work to A Willing Participant, Inc. because their work is better than anyone we have internally.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

A Willing Participant, Inc. provides design services when we’re doing a marketing engagement for our clients. Projects include direct mail programs, email marketing, and social media. They handle banner ads, email headers, and newspaper ads. They’re pretty much my full-service marketing arm.

What is the team composition?

I deal directly with Mark (Founder, A Willing Participant, Inc.) and then he distributes business out to his internal team. 

How did you come to work with A Willing Participant, Inc.? 

Mark and I worked together at an advertising agency about 20 years ago. We’ve kept in contact throughout the years. Our company isn’t strong in creative services, so I'm always reaching out to him to help me out. 

How much have you invested with them?

In total, we’ve spent around $250,000.

What is the status of this engagement? 

Work began about 10 years ago and the engagement is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Almost every client we work with keeps coming back, which is really positive feedback. Direct mail’s response rate is quite low in general. We don't really have many statistics, but I’d bet that A Willing Participant, Inc. achieves at least the industry average if not more. 

Mark is one of the few creative people that can also do account management. I have him deal directly with my clients during input meetings. A Willing Participant, Inc. knows a lot more about creative than I do, so I often let them take the lead. 

How did A Willing Participant, Inc. perform from a project management standpoint?

Mark does a great job. He’s a total professional. We mostly communicate over email and phone calls. His turnaround time is excellent.

What did you find most impressive about them? 

Mark’s experience and his professionalism really stand out.  

Are there any areas they could improve? 

No, not really. I keep reaching out to A Willing Participant, Inc. because we get along and we think alike. 

Do you have any advice for potential customers? 

Mark knows to ask all the right questions. He’ll make it easy for you to work with him.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Full Marketing Support for Education Organization

“I’d be totally lost without them.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
May 2014 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

A Willing Participant has provided comprehensive marketing services for a not-for-profit organization, from web development to campaigning. In one project, they produced videos for an annual fundraising event.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Chicago, Illinois
Nora Ligurotis
CEO, Accelerate Institute
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

A Willing Participant has drastically increased the not-for-profit’s brand awareness. From a great website to poignant videos, they’ve produced work that’s raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. Their work is effective and hassle-free. They’re the better, cheaper, faster option.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the CEO of Accelerate Institute, a not-for-profit organization for educational empowerment.  

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with A Willing Participant?

When I first joined the company five years ago, the organization had no brand awareness or marketing acumen. Our budget was also very limited. We needed to ramp up quickly with a company that could reliably provide full-service digital and traditional marketing.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They’ve addressed our various needs and have completed a multitude of projects. They’ve built our website and have provided different collateral materials. They’ve helped with everything from direct mail communications to even fundraising. In one significant project, they produced exceptional videos that are presented to our biggest investors and fundraisers.

They’ve also assisted in a school enrollment campaign (public school enrollment is dropping in Chicago, as people are rapidly leaving the city). They’ve helped us manage the school that our organization runs, as well.

What is the team composition?

Mark (Founder, A Willing Participant) has been my main point of contact. I interact with him at least a few times a week. I also work with a teammate who manages our social media.

How did you come to work with A Willing Participant?

I had worked with their founder, Mark, for 20 years at another company.

How much have you invested with them?

We spend at least $100,000 a year.

What is the status of this engagement?

We’ve relied on them since May 2014, and it’s an ongoing partnership.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

Through their efforts, our brand awareness has increased dramatically. A Willing Participant has produced the poignant videos that are presented at our one big annual fundraiser, and these videos have led to donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Thanks to their help in our marketing efforts, our program participation has been robust and we’ve also seen boosted school enrollment. The school that they help us run has quickly become one of the highest-performing charter schools in an urban area.

How did A Willing Participant perform from a project management standpoint?

I’d give them an A+, as the communication is seamless. We used Gliffy for scheduling.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Their work is exceptional, and the process is hassle-free. The pricing is also extremely reasonable. I couldn’t work with a big agency and receive the same quality of work. I’d be totally lost without them.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can’t think of anything.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

They’re the marketing experts, so defer to their knowledge. Hire them and let them do their job.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Web Design for Healing and Recovery Website

“Their knowledge of websites and technology, and their ability to explain everything is so helpful and educational.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
n/a
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Less than $10,000
 
Oct. 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

A Willing Participant, Inc. created a website for a healing and support group. They listened to the goals and ideas of the group, built an attractive Squarespace site, and explained how to navigate the backend.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Chicago, Illinois
Founder, CHARM
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Visitors comment positively about the look and feel and the navigability of the site. A Willing Participant, Inc. is receptive, patient, and creative. They are sensitive to the difficulty of the subject matter, and they allow the project to move at an appropriate pace.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

Our organization exists as a support group for adult survivors of childhood molestation. I'm the group's president.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with A Willing Participant, Inc?

I didn't know where to begin with the website, and I needed help.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

I have no technological background, so I gave them my ideas and explained what I had in mind. They became such a strong force behind this site, and they did everything. They listened to me for a long time, made suggestions, and then created a really beautiful website in Squarespace. Along the way, they've guided me through the website and answered all my questions. They meet with me regularly and teach me how to navigate the process.

What is the team composition?

I interact with their founder.

How did you come to work with A Willing Participant, Inc?

They were referred to me by a friend.

How much have you invested with them?

I was willing to pay for anything within my budget. Based on the subject matter, they've done everything pro bono. Their founder felt this was a good cause, and he’s been so kind.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project began in 2016 and is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We haven't tracked any metrics for site visitors, but everyone comments on how beautiful and user-friendly the site is. They incorporated every idea I offered, but all the creative aspects came from them.

How did A Willing Participant, Inc. perform from a project management standpoint?

I either email or call them. They're very receptive, and we usually meet in person or speak on the phone. They're easy to understand, and they respond right away.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They're patient, creative, and just such a godsend. This was a difficult undertaking on many levels, but they were always willing to work at my pace. Their knowledge of websites and technology, and their ability to explain everything is so helpful and educational.

Are there any areas they could improve?

They always respected that this was difficult, and I can’t think of one thing they could have done differently.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

I would encourage anyone to come with their own ideas, but to use their guidance. They make gentle suggestions that always work out for the best.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    The turnaround time is fast, and they're always right on time.
  • N/A Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Their founder loved our cause, and I'm so grateful for his support.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Their service is perfect, and I can only think of two small changes throughout the whole collaboration.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I'm very likely to recommend them.

Full-Service Marketing for Creative Agency

“They're approachable, direct, and authentic.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
4.5
The Project
 
Less than $10,000
 
Jun. 2017 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

A Willing Participant, Inc. creates copy for a creative services firm. They contribute to both digital and offline materials for use in direct marketing campaigns, ad creation, and communication streams.

The Reviewer
 
2-10 Employees
 
Chicago, Illinois
Bob Vevang
Founder, Aqua Story Lab
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Beyond simply creating content, A Willing Participant, Inc. helps drive strategy. Their transparency ensures well-managed projects and accurate expectations, while their direct marketing expertise gives them an edge above their competitors.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We are a strategy, content, and creative services firm that manages mid-level clients. I'm the founder.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with A Willing Participant, Inc?

They create strong, direct-response copy for our beta controls, ROI, and incremental sales.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We discuss each project upfront and build up the creative strategy together. As we move deeper into each project, they interface with our designers to build out direct marketing materials, both for digital and offline outlets. They consult on content planning and scheduling, and they make suggestions for communication streams we build up over time.

Most of their involvement with our offline marketing is in our direct mailers, brochures, and print ads. Their online work focuses on email and digital ad creation. They currently do direct mail controls for two of our clients.

What is the team composition?

We work with two members of their team, led by one main point of contact.

How did you come to work with A Willing Participant, Inc?

I worked with their leader at another agency in the past. I've known him for about 20 years. He has significant direct marketing experience, which is part of the reason we hired A Willing Participant.

How much have you invested with them?

Our yearly cost is probably about $5,000. I would estimate our total cost falls around $10,000 so far.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together around June 2017, and the collaboration is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

They go beyond just creating content, and really help drive strategy for our clients. They're very responsive, and they deliver products quickly and accurately. They're approachable, direct, and authentic. If we go in the wrong direction, their suggestions get us back on track.

How did A Willing Participant, Inc. perform from a project management standpoint?

They're great project managers. We're always on the same page, and they keep us updated. They set accurate expectations, and we always know when we will get materials back from them.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Their expertise in direct marketing sets them apart. They know what works and what doesn't, and they're quick to set new controls to achieve the best results.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can't think of anything they should improve. They work very well for us.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Let them lead the copy and content process. They know what will work best, and you can trust that they will make good decisions that will serve you well.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They always get back to us quickly.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They are willing to negotiate and work within budgetary constraints.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Their copy is strategic and drives the response we hope to achieve.
  • 4.5 NPS
    Willing to refer

Advertising for Financial Planning Startup

“Their project management was really strong, and we truly worked hand-in-hand throughout the project.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Less than $10,000
 
Nov. 2014 - Jan. 2015
Project summary: 

A Willing Participant, Inc. helped a startup by developing a creative strategy for their brand. Among other tasks, they designed the website and logo while complying with FCC standards.  

The Reviewer
 
1-10
 
Chicago, Illinois
Matthew Ligurotis
Founder, Chicago Financial Planning Group
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Both internal teams and external competitors were impressed with the end result. Years later, A Willing Participant Inc’s designs were chosen during a company merger. Their team was always on top of project tasks and never missed a deadline, easing the stress associated with projects of this size.  

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am a co-founder of the Chicago Financial Planning Group. We’re a  fee-based financial planning and asset management firm.  

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with A Willing Participant, Inc.?

We were a brand-new startup when we hired A Willing Participant, Inc. So, while we were getting up off the ground, we needed to brand ourselves.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They did a little bit of everything for our creative strategy. Of course, they designed our website, logo, and helped come up with our name. But they also designed our letterhead, created thank you cards, and formatted our emails.

To help us write our bios and mission statement for the website, they interviewed us and asked us about our past experiences and why we came together to start this company. He then sent us a rough draft for us to review, and we went back and forth a few times on edits. I was impressed by how well they were able to translate our industry and internal jargon to make it consumer-friendly.

They also ensured that all of the materials we disseminated were FCC compliant.  

What is the team composition?

I worked directly with Mark (CEO & Chief Creative, A Willing Participant, Inc.).

How did you come to work with A Willing Participant, Inc.?

I knew Mark and had seen some of his previous work. We interviewed a couple of other teams too, but ultimately, everybody was really impressed with Mark’s vision and background.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent between $5,000-$10,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together from November 2014–January 2015.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

Everyone is really happy with the result and we’ve received a lot of compliments on our logo. We'll be five years old soon, and we still use all of the original designs and everything that A Willing Participant, Inc. created for us. Even when we merged with a larger company, they liked our design so much, that they wanted to adopt our name.

How did A Willing Participant, Inc. perform from a project management standpoint?

Their project management was really strong, and we truly worked hand-in-hand throughout the project. We primarily communicated through email and phone calls, but we also had pretty frequent in-person meetings. I was also really impressed by how well their team handled everything we needed to be FCC compliant.

Before the project started, I was worried that the marketing aspect of a startup would be a huge pain, but A Willing Participant, Inc. made sure everything ran smoothly. They never missed a deadline. 

What did you find most impressive about them? 

I never had to ask them to do something twice. They were on top of everything.

Are there any areas they could improve?

There’s nothing I can think of.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer