Is a Marketing Team on Retainer Right for You?

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November 14, 2022 4 min read
by Karsten Cramer

How will my business benefit from hiring a marketing team on a retainer basis? It’s a good question, and one that some of our clients – typically, marketing directors or C-suite executives – ask both themselves and us when looking outside their organization for marketing support.

💡 4 important ways in which clients benefit from working with a marketing team on retainer:

1. Increased efficiency

Engaging freelance marketers, copywriters, designers, etc., every time you require support is time consuming. With a marketing team on retainer, you can skip the constant cycle of negotiations, quote requests, and proposal reviews.

It also makes projects run more smoothly. You’ll typically be dealing with one project management point of contact rather than being the go-between for multiple freelancers. This will save you time and reduce the potential for a communication breakdown between the different parties involved in a project.

2. More flexibility

Some months you may have a greater need for design capabilities; other months you may be deep into strategy development and benefit from external perspectives and expertise. Having access to a full marketing team makes it easy to tap into the talent and support you need, when you need them.

With a marketing team on retainer, it’s also easier to hit pause on an initiative or pivot to a fresh opportunity in line with your business needs. This flexibility will make your marketing nimbler.

3. Better continuity

Working with the same team on an ongoing basis ensures that they become immersed in your brand, business, goals, and tone of voice. There’s no need to brief them on your brand basics every time a project begins. Instead, they’ll be ready to jump right in, and their understanding will simply deepen over time.

Continuity in your marketing team also helps your marketing results compound over time. Rather than jumping between one-off projects and hoping for the best, the team will be better positioned to approach your marketing strategically with integrated, long-term goals and initiatives that continue to build on one another.

4. Greater predictability 

Paying a fixed monthly retainer fee for your external marketing team means no more unexpected invoices hitting your monthly reporting with surprise expenses.

With a clear scope of work and consistent monthly fee, you’ll be doing less financial guesswork as this predictability helps you budget more effectively.

Infographic: Marketing team vs. individual freelancers.

✅ How to do it right

Hiring a marketing team on retainer is all about making an investment in a flexible solution that will align and evolve with your business needs.

Here’s how to lay the foundation for a successful partnership with an external marketing team to enjoy the 4 benefits listed above:

  • Build trust: Like any relationship, developing a trusted partnership with a marketing team takes time, authenticity, and commitment on both sides.
  • Communicate: Commit to clear and consistent communication on both sides with regular reporting and progress reviews.
  • Set expectations: Establish clear goals and deliverables from the outset, and then reassess and update them periodically.
  • Keep it flexible: Give each side the flexibility to end the engagement at any point with a reasonable notice period (e.g. 30 days).

The benefits you reap from working with an external marketing team on retainer will reflect the effort both sides put into building a strong partnership. When both parties are fully committed and engaged, you’ll see the full potential of this partnership.

Infographic: Retainer approach vs. one-off projects.

⚠️ What are the risks?

It’s clear that there are benefits for clients from working with a marketing team on retainer, but what about the risks? It’s only natural that you might have questions and concerns, especially if you haven’t worked with the marketing team before.

So let’s not shy away from these questions – let’s answer them:

  • Will a retainer agreement lock you in for the long term?

Not if it is structured so that either party can end the engagement at any time (with a reasonable notice period). If a marketing firm is confident in the quality of their offering, there should be no reason to lock you into a long-term contract with no option for an early exit.

  • Does a retainer reduce the incentive for a marketing firm to work efficiently and put in their best effort?

Not if you’ve done your due diligence when choosing your marketing partner, establish clear deliverables from the start, and have a flexible agreement that either party can end. That said, if at any point your expectations aren’t being met, you have the flexibility to either talk it through to resolve the issue or to simply end the partnership.

👌🏽 A team that makes your job easier

With the right team, clear goals, open communication, and a flexible agreement, hiring a marketing team on retainer is an investment in the growth of your business.

It’s a way for you to pursue your business objectives with a marketing approach that’s efficient, flexible, dependable, and cost effective. It gives you more flexibility than hiring a full in-house marketing team, and it gives you more stability than constantly hiring freelancers for one-off projects.

If your business requires marketing support, we’d love to hear about your goals and show you how our marketing methodology will help you find new opportunities to propel your growth.

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