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How to Get the Most Out of a Marketing Agency Retainer

By: Alyssa Dannaker

In our recent survey of modern B2B marketing and sales professionals, we found that nearly two-thirds of B2B companies outsource their marketing and more than half of those that outsource, do so via retainers.

A retainer is an agreement between the agency and client to engage in services for an extended period of time, usually at a standard hourly rate.

Most businesses initially partner with a marketing agency on a project basis to complete large initiatives, such as developing a new website or brand strategy and once completed, choose to ramp up their marketing efforts through a retainer. A monthly retainer ensures quality services that take time to accomplish – such as ongoing PR work, SEO, content marketing campaigns and other long-term marketing tactics – are given the proper uninterrupted investment needed to maximize their impact, success and ultimately, their return on marketing investment (ROMI) for the client.

A productive retainer can bring big results for your company, but you’ll get the most out of the partnership if you create the right conditions, weigh the benefits and investments against your current situation and come fully prepared (and excited!). Start your next marketing partnership off on the right foot by reviewing each of these key areas before you engage a retainer.

Over half of all outsourced marketing is executed via retainers

Create the Perfect Conditions

It’s a lot of work to maintain any type of relationship, whether it’s with friends, family or business partners. In order to form a beneficial, long-lasting relationship with a marketing agency, you’ll need to create the ideal conditions that will set both parties up for success. Even exchange of information and expectation-setting are key ingredients for growth. Here are a few ways that you as a client can help set the perfect conditions:

Come prepared to your kick-off meeting: Have your internal marketing and sales teams get together to make a list of what has worked well for your business in the past, what hasn’t worked and what new tactics you’re interested in trying. This is a big help to your marketing agency when they begin to develop your tactical marketing plan. Your agency will always do the research before meeting with you and providing recommendations, but obtaining insider info and learning how a client views their own progress will lead to a well-informed strategy and a great head start.

Establish main points of contact: Pick a single lead or a small group of key internal decision-makers who are available for weekly or biweekly status calls and can provide a fast turnaround on any additional questions your agency might have. It’s important to ensure that the point of contact you choose is available and has the decision-making power to provide final approvals. This will ensure that projects and campaigns continue moving in a timely manner to make efficient use of your company’s time and budget as well as the agency’s resources.

Get ready to communicate: The best client will make an effort to consider their marketing agency’s recommendations and best practices and work with them to set measurable goals every quarter. They’ll also speak up when they encounter problems or concerns on their own end or with the agency’s work so that issues can be resolved quickly and effectively. Lasting partnerships occur when both parties communicate well and value each other’s input.

Reap the Retainer’s Benefits

Once you’ve entered into a retainer agreement under the right conditions, many new opportunities will come along as your internal team works with an experienced marketing partner. Some of these invaluable benefits will include:

  • Saving money by reserving your agency’s time rather than budgeting for each new initiative
  • Focusing on your own agenda, worry-free by tossing more tasks over the fence to your agency
  • Tracking the status of your marketing effort through an always-on reporting and analytics team
  • Having the time to experiment with new techniques and fully optimize your marketing plan
  • Accessing exclusive tools, platforms and partners and consulting your agency for support
  • Creating consistent marketing materials with professionally managed messaging and branding
  • Avoiding costly marketing mistakes with a knowledgeable team of experts who have your back

Do Your Homework as a Client

To continue reaping the benefits of your retainer, make a concentrated effort to keep your agency in the loop about new leads, upcoming events or changing schedules, point of contact updates and sales team success. This will help the agency refine all of the marketing tactics you’re paying for or allow them to recommend new ones, which will lead to better results. Adhering to standing status calls is also generally a good idea because, for especially busy clients, it’s the one chance to download any updates, identify, discuss and solve issues and communicate new needs. Try to remain in sync with your account manager, informing them of things as soon as possible to give them and the whole agency team adequate time to meet and exceed your expectations.

Are you getting the most out of your current agency retainer, or are you ready to make the switch? An integrated marketing agency like Sagefrog can provide you with the effective retainer solution you’re looking for. Schedule a Free Marketing Plan Consultation with Sagefrog today to discuss your needs and current goals and get a customized marketing plan summary with recommendations on how to move forward.


Are you interested in B2B marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.