What’s the Difference? Outsourced Marketing: Retainer vs. Project Work

You know marketing is important, but don’t have the time to be consistent about it. Maybe you’ve considered hiring a marketing firm to help you. You’re just not sure if you should use a freelancer for occasional projects, or go with the outsourced marketing model and have a full agency team to help with all marketing. It’s a big decision to make, no matter the size of your business.

Before jumping into all the details of hiring a marketing firm, let’s talk about the basics. What’s the difference between a retainer-based marketing firm and a project-based marketing firm?

Typically with a retainer-based marketing agency, you receive ongoing monthly marketing efforts. This includes a plan that looks ahead, rather than just taking care of immediate needs. And a big benefit to working with an agency on a monthly basis? They get to know the two most important things: You and your business goals.

When it comes to retainer services, pricing should be a flat fee. Every advertising agency is a little different. For example, at Design At Work we don’t charge for meetings, email response time or conference calls. We feel communication is necessary to get the type of traction needed to keep your marketing moving, and, most importantly, build a relationship with you and your team.

The other option to consider is project-based services. This can be helpful when you know exactly what you need, and just need someone with the skillset to help make a project come to life. When it comes to project-based services, pricing can vary. Be knowledgeable about revision costs or additional fees that may apply. For project-based work to be really cost-efficient, you should have a clear idea of what type of project you need, and what elements should be included in the finished product. When a project’s outcome isn’t quite what you had in mind and needs some tweaking, revision fees can add up fast.

OUTSOURCED MARKETING Retainer vs. Project-Based Services 

Retainer-Based Services

• Flat monthly fee
• Broad range of services and deliverables
• Dedicated account team
• Long-term and ongoing marketing needs

Project-Based Services

• Per project cost
• Well-defined project scope and deliverables
• Rotation of available talent
• Short-term or one-off projects

Focusing on what your goal is in your business’s big picture can help you decide between retainer- or project-based services. Are you wanting a one-off piece to help improve a specific part of your business, or are you looking to take a more holistic marketing approach that could touch all aspects of your company?

At Design At Work, we’d love to talk to you about what’s on your mind. We may not be the right fit for you right now, but maybe one day. And hey, if we’re not for you, we’d love to point you in the right direction.