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5 Reasons You Need a Marketing Retainer in 2024

19 DEC 2023 | by JULIE JONES
As we enter into the holiday season–a time of reflection and connection—it’s only natural to take stock of the relationships in our lives. Who do we need to buy presents for? Who do we want to spend time with, and who do we want to avoid at all costs?

Much like in our personal lives, business relationships can come in various forms, with some being stronger and more copacetic than others.

Some business relationships are designed for reaching short-term goals, for example freelance creative, event staff, one-off campaigns or projects. These arrangements are typically focused on immediate needs and outcomes. Whereas others are more strategic partnerships built for the big picture. They go beyond transactional interactions, focusing on lasting growth and a mutually beneficial relationship.

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There are three ways to work with an agency: project-based, hourly, or the far more effective method, through a marketing retainer. The path you choose shapes your relationship with your creative agency. Through this blog, I’ll highlight five key reasons why the retainer model is best for reaching your long-term marketing goals and why you should consider it in 2024.

First off, what is a marketing retainer?

A marketing retainer is an agreement to do a specific amount of work monthly for a set price. It’s a game-changing model that is successfully used across various industries.

A retainer contract takes out all the guesswork when partnering with an outside vendor: the scope is clearly outlined, specifying the services and deliverables agreed upon for a defined period and budget. And what’s even better? For approximately the cost of a salary, you get access to an entire team of skilled marketers with a variety of practical skill sets.

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A marketing retainer can include a wide range of services, from graphic design, content marketing (blog writing, emails and social media), web, video, campaign management, brand management, and strategy. At Insight, we have clients who use their retainer for one specific service (for example, e-mail marketing) and others who have a broader scope and allow us to dedicate hours to different services as needed.

Unlike engaging a marketing agency for a one-off campaign or specific project, retainers elevate the collaboration to a true partnership. They enable businesses to have a consistent marketing ally, diligently working each month towards their long-term objectives.

Why marketing retainers work.

From the agency perspective, retainers just make sense. Essentially, retainers help us, help you! They allow us to dive deep into your business and become a true extension of your team! Being entrenched in your brand and business and a part of your strategic planning allows us to do our best work.
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Effective marketing strategies take time to perfect, and retainer-based relationships allow us to track, measure, and adjust our plan as we go.If that’s not enough to make you consider a marketing retainer, check out these five benefits of a retainer-based relationship below.

5 Benefits of a Marketing Retainer

1. Long-term, Strategic Thinking

Move beyond one-off projects and focus on your business’s long-term goals.

When you hear “Marketing Retainer,” think of “Strategic Thinking.” The two go hand in hand. Retainers are a partnership that keeps your agency actively involved in your overarching marketing strategies, allowing you to plan ahead for success.

Because brand, design, and content all demand a long-term perspective and a robust working relationship, having a strategy that not only meets your immediate needs but also paves the way for long-term success is key!

If you were using a project-based approach instead of a retainer, your agency would be laser-focused on a specific ask in front of them. In contrast, by choosing a retainer, your agency can focus on the project at hand and plan out how it will fit with future endeavours.

2. Proactive Marketing

Shift from reactive problem-solving to proactive brand management and sales strategy development.

Instead of waiting for a problem or opportunity to arise, retainers empower you to be proactive! Your agency can get ahead of potential issues and create opportunities by consistently contemplating how they manage your brand, reputation, and marketing strategies.

Imagine this scenario: your Q3 reports reveal that your website is falling short of its visitor target. Without a retainer, your internal team would likely begin investigating the root causes of this issue— was it insufficient traffic links, lackluster e-newsletter copy, subpar visuals in social media posts, or weak SEO?

Then, you’d have to brief a team or a freelancer on the issue and how you propose to solve it. Since issues often result from a combination of factors, this could mean briefing multiple players on multiple issues.

Sounds exhausting, right?

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In contrast, the retainer method could allow your dedicated agency team, already immersed in the strategic plan, to be equipped to identify and solve issues as part of their ongoing efforts.

They set targets for website visitors and establish milestones to track progress throughout the quarter. By conducting A/B testing, they figure out what’s effective and what needs tweaking, fine-tuning your strategies as they go. This proactive approach prevents problems before they arise!

And because an agency is made up of a team with diverse skill sets, they’ll be able to address any potential problems, whether that be copy, design, web or more!

3. Continuity and Synergy

Establish trust through consistent messaging across all channels, thanks to a dedicated team that understands your brand inside out.

It takes time and energy to align an external team with your internal staff. The beauty of having a consistent team for all your marketing efforts is that it crafts a thorough brand understanding and ensures a uniform message across all channels. This, in turn, establishes trust with your target market.

With a retainer, you brief the team on your overall brand, audience, and goals just once. This establishes a consistent approach and saves you valuable time (aka, money), eliminating the need to brief a new team for every marketing project you undertake.

4. Budget Management

Effectively manage your budget by spreading costs evenly throughout the year, avoiding unexpected expenses.

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Retainers are a strategic budget management tool, allowing you to distribute your annual marketing budget evenly throughout the year. And with a fixed monthly payment, there are no surprise costs.

The marketing landscape is more complex than ever, and in-house marketing teams lack the resources to hire experts in every specialized area of marketing, making it challenging to maintain a holistic approach. Retainers offer a cost-efficient way to tap into a bunch of specialists who can help you cover all the bases.

5. Preferred Pricing and Preferential Treatment

Enjoy cost benefits and personalized attention as a valued retainer client designed for long-term partnerships.

From the agency perspective, the retainer model is the preferred approach as it provides the means to do the best work possible for you. So, as an added incentive, retainer clients get the benefit of preferred pricing and priority treatment, as well as more flexibility in the distribution of your marketing dollars. So, for example, if there’s an initiative that’s going to be more resource-heavy at the mid-way point of the retainer, we can reallocate hours as necessary from the other 11 months to ensure that the project gets completed within the agreement of the retainer.

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Having goals and a plan is the key to getting the most out of your marketing dollars, and establishing a strong relationship with an agency can help bring a plan together while ensuring brand continuity across every touchpoint. That continuity, results in heightened brand awareness, and reinforces trust in the eyes of your audience – which is the name of the game!

Make 2024 the year you move on from piecemeal marketing to a more integrated marketing approach, and gain access to a team of strategic doers, with specialized expertise and decades worth of experience who are as invested in a successful outcome as you are!

Julie Jones

copywriter and brand manager

A creative, big-picture thinker, Julie loves to tell stories that make audiences feel things.
As Insight’s Copywriter and Brand Manager, she aims to create compelling content that influences, empowers, or engages readers, and hits the mark for our clients, every time.

Julie Jones

copywriter and brand manager

A creative, big-picture thinker, Julie loves to tell stories that make audiences feel things.
As Insight’s Copywriter and Brand Manager, she aims to create compelling content that influences, empowers, or engages readers, and hits the mark for our clients, every time.

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