Simon Harrison

Simon Harrison

4 min read – 

How good an idea is a marketing agency retainer?

For many small to medium sized businesses, the cost of investment in a marketing team, or even just one marketing professional, often outweighs the benefit he/she can bring to the business.

What’s the alternative? You either persuade/cajole/bribe someone to take on marketing tasks alongside their day job (never a good idea if you want to get any meaningful marketing work done) or you seek the help of a marketing agency.

So now you’ve got two options: you can either work with one or more agencies on a project by project basis, or you can take the plunge and bring an agency on board on a retainer basis.

Here are 6 reasons why this latter option might be a good idea:



Let’s talk numbers. With a regular contract on offer, there’s a good chance you can negotiate either a better deal on services, or a discounted cost, than if you were paying the agency ad hoc. Repeat business is good news for any other organisation, even more so when it is guaranteed for a length of time, so the chances are high on you securing a ‘deal’.


By having the same agency ‘on tap’ each month they will quickly develop a working knowledge of your business and can add value to your marketing activities. It’s all about building trust between the two parties that can only benefit you in the long run.


With a monthly arrangement in place you will be in pole position for when you need that quick piece of design doing, or a photoshoot at a moments’ notice. They’ll be no “we can’t fit you in today” – or there shouldn’t be!


How often do you struggle to communicate your ideas to an Agency? And how often do you have to wait a couple of days for them to call you back? Retaining an agency just takes away these headaches with easy communication channels established, be it by telephone, email or on-site visits. Plus the chances are you’ll have a dedicated project manager looking after you.


If you get the right agency on board, this can open up opportunities with regard to the flexibility of marketing services. With a traditional agency retainer agreement, usually the agency will offer a set amount of services per month and because the cost is based on that arrangement, changing it can be difficult. As an alternative, some agencies can offer more flexible arrangements (such as a credits-based system) that help you to switch between services as you need them, thus giving you all the flexibility of an in-house marketing employee, but without the cost.


And finally, and perhaps most importantly, you know when you keep meaning to do something but your day job gets in the way? With a retained agreement in place, especially with an agency worth its salt, you will always have that encouragement in your ear to finish that project or start that campaign. After all, from an agency’s perspective, they will need to demonstrate their value for when it comes around to renewal date, so it’s worth their while to keep on top of the marketing plan.

The biggest advantage we believe in, and hear most from our clients, is ‘Peace of mind’ – just knowing they can call on us to carry out their marketing activities whenever they need it. And sometimes we’ll do it before they realise they need it.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on marketing agency retainer agreements, good or bad! Let us know your experiences.

And if you’d like to hear more about our different approach to retainer agreements, please get in touch or telephone 01202 682322