To Retain or Not To Retain A Retainer

Why having an agency on retainer saves you headaches and more

Picture this all too familiar scenario: you lead a talented marketing team, but like your marketing budget, they’re stretched a little thin between those planned and unplanned requests pouring in. So you decide to bring in a marketing agency (great move by the way!) to help ease the burden and enhance your output.

At the beginning of your client-agency relationship, you likely started on a project-by-project basis and everything was going swell; you had extra hands on deck and fresh ideas flowing in. Your team is less burdened, and huzzah, your budget is still intact. However, a few months in – and a project or two later – you realize how nice it would be if you could secure the same agency team to work on every project you outsourced to minimize onboarding time and maximum strategic insight in favor of the big picture. It’d also be great if you could pick up the phone to call your agency with a few quick questions and know someone was available. Wouldn’t it be a dream if when those last-minute projects came across your desk that you simply didn’t have time for, they could send them along to become your agency’s priority instead?

Hypotheticals aside, a retainer relationship with a full-service agency gives you all those conveniences and more. Need further evidence? Here are a couple of reasons why a retainer could be your next best move to save time, money and maybe even some sanity in your marketing world:

Elevate Your Strategy through Continuity.

Let’s lay it all out on the table: retainers work best for organizations with long-term goals and objectives to meet. Under a retainer, a great agency becomes an extension of your team and instead of approaching a project with a one-time, task-oriented mentality, can instead bring a more holistic, strategic viewpoint to ensure all ongoing initiatives are working towards the same goal. A retainer provides your organization with a dedicated team that becomes immersed in your business, objectives and can provide additional insight, innovation and expertise along the way. Retainers allow agencies to go the extra mile; ultimately, you gain a longstanding strategic partner as well as an integrated marketing approach.

Everything You Need. Faster.

It’s simple: retainers retain resources. When you secure a retainer, you’re securing a dedicated marketing, media, PR, social and/or digital team to prioritize those planned (and not-so-planned) jobs. It’s a great way to protect your team’s focus, keep timelines intact and above-all, avoid undue stress by knowing help is only a call away. By moving away from a project-by-project structure, agencies will spend less time pitching you on the ‘next big project’ or onboarding internal teams to your account, and instead will jump right in to deliver everything you need in both a cost and time-efficient manner.

How to Start the Conversation

  1. Decide if a retainer is right for you.
    • If you have long-term goals, need additional strategic planning, or are simply in a constant state of overutilization internally, your organization would likely benefit from a retainer-relationship.
  2. Talk with an agency.
    • Open up the discussion and identify how a retainer would add to your partnership and the return on your investment. Identify the level of transparency in reporting you need, ask about hidden fees or potential mark-up costs, and clarify an expected level of communication and response time prior to making your decision.
  3. Try it out.

For more tips and insights on how to take your marketing from now to next, subscribe to our newsletter or contact Nicole Stone – Senior Vice President, Business Development at or 414.270.7235.

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