If you’re looking to grow and scale your business, marketing is an essential investment.
But many small businesses do not have the resources to hire an in-house marketing expert, let alone a marketing team. One-off marketing campaigns or project-based work is another option but can be expensive, disjointed, and difficult to maintain in the long run.
So how can small businesses access good quality marketing without breaking the bank? This is where marketing retainers come into play. Marketing retainer packages are a sustainable, cost-effective solution for small and medium-sized businesses to access ongoing, cohesive marketing services without paying for each specialist, campaign, or project individually.
In this comprehensive guide to marketing retainer packages, we’ll delve into the benefits of marketing retainers, the services they typically include, and the average cost to help you understand your options. We’ll also share tips to help you get the most value from your investment in a marketing retainer package.
What is a Marketing Retainer?
A marketing retainer is an agreement between a business and a marketing agency, in which the agency provides a set of services on a recurring basis, typically for a fixed monthly fee. The services included in the marketing retainer depend on the agency’s offerings but can usually be tailored to the specific needs and goals of the business.
Compared to a contract, which is typically used to outline a specific project, a marketing retainer usually covers a broad range of services that are provided on a continual or recurring basis. As such, retainer payments are usually made monthly or quarterly, while contracts are paid upon project completion.
Why Invest in a Marketing Retainer Package?
Marketing retainer packages are a popular choice among small and medium-sized businesses because they tend to be more cost-effective than hiring an in-house team. Retainers provide businesses with ongoing marketing support and guidance from a team of experts, which can lead to better outcomes for your business.
Studies show that businesses with retainer-based marketing agreements are more likely to be satisfied with their marketing than those without such agreements. Why is that? Below are some key benefits of marketing retainers:
- They provide consistent, ongoing support. With the same team running your marketing campaigns on a continual (rather than project-based) basis, your campaigns will remain more effective in the long run. Your individual marketing campaigns will also be much more coordinated with one another, so they can work in unison towards the same goals.
- They save you time and money. Hiring an (experienced) in-house marketing team is expensive and paying for marketing campaigns and projects individually or on an hourly basis can quickly add up. Provided you find a fairly priced retainer, you can save big by paying a fixed monthly fee. In fact, a recent survey found that hiring a marketing agency is almost 50% more cost-efficient than an in-house marketing team.
- They allow for predictable budgeting. Marketing retainers with a fixed monthly fee make your marketing expenses and cash flow much more predictable. And because you can budget more accurately, marketing retainers are a more sustainable solution in the long term.
- They can be customized to meet your needs and budget. Marketing retainers or digital marketing packages can be customized depending on the level of support you need. You can completely hand off your marketing efforts, get focused support with the high-level strategy, or anything in between. With some marketing agencies, like Flyrise, you can also customize the length of the marketing retainer.
- They get better results! Provided you secure a marketing retainer with a professional and experienced marketing team, you can expect to achieve better marketing results. For one, you’ll have access to a larger team of marketing specialists than you could likely afford to hire in-house or contract individually. Furthermore, the marketing support you receive will likely be more strategic and forward-thinking- rather than overly focused on short-term outcomes.
What Does a Marketing Retainer Buy You?
What is included in a marketing retainer depends on the marketing agency you go through and its offerings. But, generally speaking, retainers can be tailored to meet your recurring marketing needs, budget, and goals. They usually include a set of marketing services that run on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Below are some common services included in marketing retainer packages:
- Strategic planning: developing an overall marketing strategy, setting goals, determining key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress, and creating individual plans for different campaigns or channels.
- Content creation: creating blog posts or other types of content to promote products and services and offer value to clients and potential clients.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): optimizing the website and curating backlinks and guest posts to improve website authority and search engine rankings.
- Social media management: creating content, managing accounts, and engaging with followers.
- Email marketing: creating and sending regular newsletters and special campaigns to email subscribers.
- Paid advertising management: creating and managing paid advertising campaigns across various platforms such as Google, Facebook, and more.
- Sales funnel management: developing a strategy and funnel to nurture leads and grow your email subscribers.
- Analytics and reporting: monitoring, analyzing, and reporting on marketing campaign performance through regular reports – plus making recommendations for continual improvement and growth.
- Monthly website hosting and maintenance: website hosting, monthly updates and maintenance, and sometimes web design or content updates as requested by the client.
Marketing retainer packages offer great flexibility, allowing the marketing team and client to shift focus to different campaigns depending on what’s working well and what isn’t, in order to stay on track and meet key objectives.
What Isn’t Included in Most Digital Marketing Retainers
It’s important to note that there are a few related marketing costs that may not be included in a marketing retainer package. For example, ad spend is not typically included as it is paid directly to the advertising platform (i.e. Google, Facebook, etc).
Additionally, marketing assets or special projects that are not needed on an ongoing basis probably won’t be included in a marketing retainer. This may include foundational assets such as a website build, logo design, or brand messaging strategy. It’s usually best to get these types of foundational assets in place before launching a marketing retainer for ongoing support. Ideally, you can hire the same team that creates your foundational assets for your ongoing marketing retainer to ensure continuity of messaging, strategy, etc.
In general, be sure to look into exactly what is and isn’t included in a marketing retainer package before signing an agreement so that you can budget and plan accordingly.
How Much Do Marketing Agencies Charge?
The cost of marketing retainers can vary widely depending on the scope of services included. Generally speaking, the more services included in the retainer, the higher the monthly fee. More basic marketing retainer packages could cost a few hundred dollars per month, while more comprehensive packages could cost several thousand dollars. According to a report by Agency Spotter, the average monthly retainer fee for a marketing agency in the U.S. in 2021 was $4,000-$7,000 per month. It’s a good idea to get pricing for several different agencies so that you can compare and contrast before making a decision.
Other factors that may affect the cost of the marketing retainer package include the agency’s level of expertise and experience, the geographic location, your industry and target audience, the contract length, the size of the marketing agency, and the pricing model. While most agencies charge a fixed monthly fee based on the services included, some agencies offer performance-based pricing.
Marketing Retainers vs. Hourly Rates
Let’s take a closer look at why many businesses choose marketing retainers over hourly rates for marketing services. Marketing retainers offer a fixed price for a set of services provided over a certain period, while hourly rates charge for the amount of time spent on a project. The advantage of a marketing retainer is that it provides predictability and stability in costs which makes it easier to budget and plan accordingly, and thereby sustain consistent, ongoing marketing efforts in the long run. On the other hand, hourly rates can be more flexible and suitable for short-term projects. But estimates can be inaccurate, so it can be challenging to plan for the total expense.
Getting the Most Value from Your Monthly Marketing Budget
To get the most value out of your monthly marketing retainer, you first need to choose the right marketing agency. Here are a few important factors to consider when selecting an agency to partner with:
- Experience and expertise: Look for an agency that has specialized experience and expertise in your industry and with the types of marketing campaigns you need. Ask for case studies and examples of past work to assess their capabilities.
- Services offered: Ensure they offer the specific marketing services you need. If you plan to start small and roll out more campaigns down the line, think ahead and make sure they are a partner you can grow with.
- Customization and flexibility: You want a marketing retainer package that is customizable and flexible enough to adapt to your changing needs. As your business evolves, you will likely need to adjust your marketing strategy, and the agency should be able to accommodate this.
- Communication and transparency: Look for an agency that is clear, timely, and transparent in its communications. You’ll need an agency that communicates regularly and is responsive to your request and questions.
- Reputation: Read reviews or testimonials from past clients to get a sense of the agency’s reputation. If you don’t find many online, ask the agency to share some with you – they should have no problem offering up some testimonials or case studies.
- Contract/agreement details: Some marketing retainer packages come with strict contracts, while other agreements are more flexible. Be sure to read the fine print carefully so that you’re fully informed of the details going into the partnership.
Once you select and hire an agency, the majority of the responsibility will be transferred to their team, but there are some things you can do during the partnership to maximize value and get the most out of your investment. Here are some suggestions:
Set Measurable Goals: Set measurable goals from the get-go to guide your marketing efforts. Is there a specific number of new leads or amount of sales you need to generate per month? Sharing specific goals with your marketing retainer team will help you track campaign progress and measure success. Update your goals throughout the course of the partnership, as needed.
Communicate Clearly & Regularly: Good communication on both sides of the partnership is essential for a successful marketing retainer. There are some things the marketing team will need from your end, and the more quickly you can respond to these requests, the fewer the roadblocks. Ideally, choose one main point of contact from both sides of the partnership to streamline communications. Be open and honest with the agency you hire and don’t be afraid to share feedback, ask questions, or request updates along the way.
Be Open to New Ideas: Hopefully, the marketing agency you hire will become a team that you can trust– a true partner in your business growth. Digital marketing is ever-evolving and innovation is key, so be open to their ideas and suggestions, and don’t be afraid to try new approaches. Their team of experts should feel comfortable coming to you with new ideas and strategies that will help you achieve your goals.
Track & Analyze Results: Talk to the marketing retainer team about how they will track results and share progress updates. Pay attention to these updates and use the data to make informed decisions and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Monthly Marketing Packages from Flyrise!
All in all, marketing retainers are a cost-effective way for small businesses to access good quality marketing support and guidance on an ongoing basis. By paying a fixed monthly retainer fee, businesses can receive a range of different marketing services without having to hire an in-house marketing team.
Here at Flyrise, we offer flexible marketing retainer packages that can be customized to fit your business’s specific needs and goals. Whether you just need some high-level marketing strategy to guide your team or a comprehensive, done-for-you marketing campaign, we’ve got you covered. Our services include marketing strategy, sales funnels, social media, ad campaigns, content, SEO, email marketing, branding, and website design.
As a small digital agency, our rates are much more affordable than many marketing retainer packages on the market. Book a free strategy session with one of our co-founders to customize a marketing package that aligns with your needs and budget!