By Published On: December 22, 2022

The number and variety of tasks you and your team of marketers are responsible for in any given day is mind numbing. There’s a reason the marketing department is called the junk drawer of an organization.

But when you ask for help, your boss says “maybe next year”.

So maybe you’re thinking about more creative ways to lighten your load. Have you considered hiring an agency on retainer? It may sound like a big scary commitment, but it’s really not.

The hardest part is finding one that fits your needs and agreeing on a contract. Neither of which is that hard and both of which can be done much faster than hiring a new employee.

If you’ve worked with an agency in the past, ask if they’d be willing to start you on a small retainer. They’ve already had a peek behind the curtain, so the get-to-know-each-other phase will be short or non-existent.

If it’s your first foray into agency land, it’ll take a little more time. Start by searching in your geographical area. It’s not critical to hire someone local, but it can’t hurt. Learn about the services they provide, review their work, read a few of their blogs, see what they’re talking about on LinkedIn, and send them a note.

You’ll know pretty quickly after talking to their rep if they can help with your specific needs. And keep in mind that a retainer doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment. You can try it for a few months to see how it goes. It doesn’t have to be a lot of hours either—maybe just 10-12 per month. It’s up to you and your agency to iron out the details.

If they’re not being flexible during those negotiations, they might not be a good fit. Big-name agencies like to work with big-name, big-budget clients. If that’s not you, talk to a smaller agency. There are literally thousands of them (including us, of course.)

Once you find the right fit, they should be able to jump quickly into your work—agencies are used to working on short deadlines.

When you find a good fit, the upfront hassles will pale in comparison to the benefits. Here are a few:

  • New perspectives – people who work outside the confines of your company will have fresh ideas you probably haven’t considered.
  • Other marketers to bond with – agency people love to strategize with other like-minded people. With an agency on retainer, you’ve got a friend in the industry who has your back.
  • More time for other stuff – reviewing data, reporting numbers, and projecting goals for your boss is important. While you do that, your agency can be working on new headline options for your campaign or researching the viability of the latest social media platform.
  • Fast turns – when you hire an agency on retainer, your work moves to the front of the line.
  • The latest trends – agency folks are constantly reading marketing blogs and articles, attending webinars, watching videos, reading books, and scanning LinkedIn and for all the latest news and trends.
  • An extension of your marketing department – your retainer agency is always there for you, and they don’t require a full-time salary or paid days off.
  • More sales – when more people are on your team, your chances of success are greatly increased. Marketing is measurable and should be viewed as an investment, not an expense.

Agencies are full of smart, passionate people who know their stuff and genuinely want to help you be successful. Having one as an extension of your marketing team could be a game changer. You’ll have a better chance of meeting your quarterly goals and you might even have time to take a lunch break.

About the Author: Danette Knickmeier

Danette Knickmeier
The number of hats Danette wears at the agency rivals the number of toppings you can put on a pizza. Now seven years into her second residency at cat&tonic, she enjoys putting her many talents to use, including (but not limited to) account services, project management, strategic planning, copy and content writing, general operations, and snack ordering. Her wicked planning skills and natural ability to keep projects on task—without annoying all parties involved—make her our go-to, get-it-done person. Danette’s first stint at [c&t] lasted six years before she got the itch to try on a few larger agencies for size. She grew professionally and made several life-long friends in those days, but she missed the small agency vibe and was eagerly welcomed back by her life-long [c&t] friends.
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