Why Choose a Content Marketing Retainer Package?

By Kathryn Hawkins. Agency Process
Calendar   Credit:  BrianAJackson via Depositphotos  License: Depositphotos

Signing up for a content marketing retainer package offers plenty of advantages over per-project pricing. Here are a few reasons why.

For as long as my agency’s been in business, we’ve offered two main pricing models: Ad-hoc projects, and monthly content marketing retainers.

Project-based pricing can work great for short-term projects with a defined end date: For instance, if you’re planning to launch a new website and need to partner with an agency for 30 pages of copy to be completed within the next three months. In this case, the deliverables, pricing, and time frame can be easily defined, and we know how to plan our team’s resources.

But for brands that know they need ongoing support with marketing services, a marketing retainer relationship is ideal — both for our agency, and for your company. And while it’s true that your needs may vary from month to month, our marketing retainer model provides the flexibility to fit with a modern marketing strategy.

digital marketing, technology, notebook

Key advantages of a marketing retainer model

Signing up for a content marketing retainer package offers plenty of advantages over per-project pricing.

When it comes to marketing retainer work, it’s important for agencies to be flexible to accommodate clients’ needs. While your company's advertising budget for PPC spend may be set in stone, clients don’t always set a strict monthly budget for inbound marketing services: They may wish to produce blog posts a few times a week, but develop new white papers just several times a year, and factor in 10 hours per month for search engine optimization.

We’ve structured our own content marketing agency to accommodate those needs. We can offer services based on a range of structures, including hourly rates, per-project rates, and retainer-based fees. And while we are always happy to accommodate clients who want to add extra projects to their service packages without any ongoing commitment, we feel that retainer agreements, in which clients pre-pay a monthly retainer for a set number of services, provides the best quality and value for everyone.

apple, calendar, desk

Here’s why:

Retainers help us predict your needs and do everything we can to exceed your expectations.

While we pride ourselves on being able to accommodate last-minute project requests as often as possible, we prioritize work for our existing clients who've signed long term contracts. Companies who have developed and committed to a regular scope of services with a retainer fee have reserved our best resources, ensuring that they will have the opportunity to work with consultants who have extensive experience in their industry and have received detailed instructions regarding their content strategy plan. We invest time upfront into onboarding and discovery, taking the time to interview key stakeholders and learn about your solution in detail — empowering us with the tools we need to help you tell your story.

When you partner with us under a retainer relationship, we’re focused on understanding your ongoing needs and goals, rather than simply delivering on a single project. It’s about serving as your partner, instead of a mere service provider.

When we're working on a retainer fee, we're thinking long-term about how we can best support your company with marketing services on an ongoing basis, instead of just optimizing results for a single project. You'll most likely find that this results in a more thoughtful and sustainable use of your marketing budget.

website, web design, development

Retainer packages help us reduce our marketing efforts—which means that we can give our retainer clients more affordable pricing structures.

Clients’ needs are always changing, which means that in order to ensure a predictable income stream, we need to spend a percentage of our time and funds on marketing efforts to help us attract new clients. We are able to provide a discount on our monthly retainer fees when a client signs up for a long-term retainer agreement, compared to our project-based pricing. It’s just a little thank-you for helping us alleviate the stress of constant pitching, and committing to us as a long-term partner.

piggy bank, gold, money

Agency retainers help clients predict their own marketing expenses and factor them into their overall budgets.

Likewise, retainers can take some of the stress off of clients. When you know you’re spending a predictable amount on monthly services, you can better define what tasks you want to accomplish each month and know how much you have left to spend on other budget items. Rather than simply signing a contractual agreement with a service provider, you can develop a strategy for incorporating the agency’s work into your comprehensive marketing plan to help your brand meet its marketing goals.

calculator, calculation, insurance

It enables your service provider to be accountable for results.

Sure, you could hire an search engine optimization strategist and a group of freelance writers for a one-time project, and then never talk to them again—but then when the time comes to review your quarterly metrics, you're on your own, with no one to help you understand the context of what's been done or whether there are improvements that could be made.

When we sign on new clients for marketing retainer services, it also means that we're working with them as an ongoing partner. We'll support them with strategic planning around all of their key initiatives, and regularly check in to optimize our plan. We can look at metrics such as search engine rankings, site traffic, social shares, and more to understand what content is most successful, and continually optimize our efforts to help you meet your business goals.

startup, start-up, people

It's typically more affordable than a full-time hire, but far more flexible.

Committing to a monthly fee for your service provider helps you plan out your annual budget and may replace the cost of numerous full-time hires, as an agency is far more likely to bring a broad range of skill sets to the mix.

What does a marketing retainer cost? It varies, based on the scope of work and services required.

At Eucalypt, our typical marketing retainer agreements range between $5,000 and $20,000+ per month, and our team can include a combination of support with writing, editing, graphic design, search engine optimization, project management, social media, PR, and traditional print advertising. That’s a far more versatile skill set than you’d find in a single employee, and we can track our costs directly to deliverables, ensuring that you’re maximizing the value of your investment.

yoga, asana, pose

Agile retainers can help you optimize for results.

When choosing a service provider for a long term relationship, look for companies that offer a more flexible retainer package: You don't want to be committed to a highly specific set of deliverables a full year in advance when you don't know how much your business model or industry landscape could change in that time.

Instead, focus on finding an agency that will allow you to shift gears when needed—we've switched to a "credit" based system that allows us to price out our services without forcing clients to commit to specific deliverables up front. That means we can modify our game plan to focus on what's performing best for our clients.

We attach most of our deliverables, such as email marketing campaigns, web copy, blog posts, and ebooks, to specific credit amounts. In one month, you might need 10 blog posts; in another, you might want to swap out 6 of those for an ebook. Or, if you’re revising your messaging and aren’t ready to launch new deliverables, we can roll credits over from one month to the next. This pricing model allows you to use our credits towards one-off projects, as well as long term projects that we've planned out.

digital marketing, seo, google

You can reduce the likelihood of layoffs by relying on a retainer-based agency.

Company layoffs can be brutal — both for the employees you need to let go, and the morale of those left behind, not to mention the negative brand reputation you could gain as a result.

By choosing a retainer relationship, rather than growing your team’s headcount beyond what you know you can sustain, you’ll have set timelines in place for reviewing your contract: We typically work on either a 6-month or a 12-month term.

When we work on retainer with clients, we know there’s a chance it may not last beyond the contract term. Many of our clients use us to supplement their in-house team until they have the profits or funding to support more headcount, or they’ll use us to support their marketing function up until an acquisition.

While we often have long-term retainers with our clients — and have worked with many companies on multi-year contracts — we understand the business case for our services, and can offboard just as easily as we can onboard with your company.

bricks, chairs, classroom

Building a partnership

In my eyes, one of the key advantages of the marketing retainer model is that it allows us the bandwidth to grow a true partnership with our clients.

Our customers often say that we feel just like part of their team, and that doesn’t happen when we’re simply handling ad-hoc projects every now and then. By investing in an ongoing monthly retainer, you can feel confident that you’re able to grow a collaborative relationship with a team of marketing experts who are invested in helping you take your business to the next level.

Want to learn about our flexible retainer models? Book a consult with me.

Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than 16 years.

Latest from the Blog

Browse by Category

Receive monthly tips on content marketing, social media marketing and how to improve your company’s web presence. No spam. Ever.