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How flexible is a retainer with a marketing agency?

4 mins read

A retainer with a marketing agency is an agreement where your business pays monthly or quarterly for a range of services. They typically last longer than one-off projects as you'll likely have an ongoing need rather than launching a one-off website, for instance. 

A retainer can be effective as it allows the marketing agency to get to know your brand, understand your business and use their expertise to help exceed your long-term goals. If you find yourself regularly going back to a marketing agency for support, then chances are a marketing retainer is exactly what you need.



How does a marketing agency retainer work?

It's a lot simpler than you think. Your business enters a contractual agreement with your chosen marketing agency and together you work out how much you'll pay per month or quarter. This depends on the services you require and the volume of work the agency will do for you.

But all of this means nothing without some hard work behind the scenes before marketing agencies can execute your plan.

It involves a lot of strategy work, plans on building awareness and fixing backend stuff like your CMS to ensure everything is set up as it should be.

When you sign off the goals and strategy, the marketing agency can then jump in and help you accomplish the goals within your retainer budget.

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Things to keep in mind

Your budget can differ depending on the channels you select. For example, choosing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising will be one agency cost — but you'll also need an advertising spend budget within the agreement.

Do you want someone on-call whenever you need them, or set weekly call times? Some agencies will be there for any immediate needs whenever you call. But if you're busy and weekly updates are fine, that's also an option.

That doesn't mean they'll neglect you. They'd always be available when you need to talk, but remember, they're working hard in the background to help you with your goals. Trust their expertise as you'll always be a marketing agency's priority.


Is a retainer flexible to your needs?

This can depend on a few factors:

  • Your requirements
  • Your budget
  • The agency and how they price up their retainers

There's no right or wrong way for an agency to price up its retainer. For some, staying rigid and keeping all channels on a similar level works. For example, you might find a 'starter' retainer has fewer deliverables for all channels, such as SEO, content marketing and social media.

When you move to the next package, the quantity of deliverables will increase. For some, that system works perfectly. Others do enjoy more flexibility, though, and it's something you can talk through with your chosen marketing agency.

At Avidly, for example, we'll tailor your retainer based on your unique requirements and update it month-to-month or campaign to campaign.

All work has been of an exceptionally high standard and is always prompt. The explainer videos alongside the delivered content were very useful!
Imogen Fraser-Clark
Altlaw eDiscovery

That means if you need a bit more SEO in one month and not as much video marketing, for example, you can be flexible and change the requirements. As your goals and needs change, so can your retainer.


What are the benefits?

  • A team to rely on: Even if someone in the agency is off sick or on holiday, your work doesn't suddenly stop. A marketing agency has multiple experts in each department to keep things running
  • Genuine experts: Speaking of which, they also have experts in every department. You can focus on other tasks knowing genuine experts are working on your account in every channel
  • Better value: Over time, your relationship with the marketing agency will get better and they'll understand your business more. That means you can get a quicker, stronger and more efficient service
  • Proactiveness: A marketing agency wouldn't just wait for you to give orders. They have the knowledge, experience and knowhow to proactively make suggestions to drive your business forward
  • You're the priority: As a retainer client, you'll have a set amount of time per week or month to catch up with your agency. Some agencies even give you access to their project management systems so you can see exactly where each task is up to
  • Access to leading tools: In some cases, you'll benefit from access to tools that come as part of your retainer. Where in the past you might have had to shell out extra for certain software, marketing agencies use tried and tested tools to help your business grow
  • Predictable costs: One-off projects can be difficult to track financially, especially since the scope can change regularly. With a marketing retainer, you know what to expect for an invoice every month, making it easier to budget and forecast


What services are typically included?

Again, this depends on the marketing agency. Some might only specialise in a particular area while others might cover every base. Do your research and choose a retainer with a marketing agency that covers what you need.


What marketing agencies typically offer as services include:

  • Content marketing and PR
  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Web design and development

What we believe, however, is that you don't need a retainer for absolutely everything. This comes down to the flexibility we offer where you can choose which channel to hone in on and where you can afford to move the focus away from.

The services we offer include:

  • HubSpot management
  • Marketing automation
  • Inbound marketing
  • Web design and development
  • Growth-Driven Design
  • Chatbot creation
  • Video marketing
  • Content marketing
  • SEO
  • Social media
  • PPC
  • Custom HubSpot integrations
  • Sales enablement
  • Video transformation

When researching for a marketing agency, make sure to ask which services they can offer for your retainer.


When you should use a marketing retainer and when you should avoid it

Plenty of reasons suggest your business will benefit from putting an agency on retainer. If any of the below sound familiar, it's a good indicator that you should reach out to one:

  • You don't have enough resources in-house to reach your goals
  • Growth is a priority
  • You have the budget to afford a retainer
  • You need quick turnaround times rather than trying to do everything alone
  • You have ongoing needs for deliverables
  • You need help managing all the channels and platforms you currently use
  • You have projects in mind that are longer than a six-month timeline
  • You want to start creating more strategic campaigns
  • You want experts on hand to not only deliver the work but also guide you with recommendations

But there are also scenarios when a retainer with a marketing agency might not be the best idea for you right now:

  • You have a limited budget
  • You have a very specific project or service requirements agencies can't help with
  • You don't have ongoing marketing needs
  • You don't spend much on advertising or other channels
  • You have enough resources in-house to keep your marketing efforts ticking

A retainer with a marketing agency shouldn't be something you just set up and ignore. A strong relationship will see both your business and your marketing agency pushing yourselves to grow.

Manchester HUG Mar 23 4

The challenge is usually finding a long-term partner that can help you accomplish your goals. If that's where you're at right now, it's time to take your marketing efforts to the next level with a marketing agency retainer.

That's where we come in — an agency with a footprint in over nine countries and 200+ specialists all dedicated to helping you achieve the most of your marketing agency retainer. Fill in the form below to find out how we can help you.


Grow and learn with a marketing retainer from Avidly.

A retainer with a marketing agency often starts with trying to find one you can rely on. They need to be flexible, adaptable, experienced and also educate you along the way.

That's where Avidly comes in. Why not see what a 4X HubSpot Global Partner of the Year can do for you?