Agency retainers

Podcast Agency retainers

Join James and Chelsea as they discuss our new style of agency retainer, how we work with our clients and the success we’ve seen since switching to this model.


In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about our new retained client proposition.
Here with James today, and we’re going to be chatting you through a new retain client proposition that we’ve recently created to enable our clients to work a little bit more flexibly with us. So James, what’s this about?
So, we’re basically moving away really from a project driven model to one where we can have a more ongoing relationship with our clients. And a couple of reasons really, economically from the agency, it’s better, we’re not sprinting to do a big project, and then not talk to the client again, and everything we then do turns into into sort of a longer reasoning behind it. So if we’re doing a web project or an SEO project, it’s got some continued purpose behind it, rather than just to get some of the invoicing out, get some money and then move on. But fundamentally, it’s because we’ve had more of an influx in clients that are actively looking for a longer term, more involved relationship with the agency, and with the team that we’ve got as well with different team members and different skill sets. And we’re ideally placed really to be able to tap into the different people in the business to, to use those skills depending on a client’s requirements are. So sometimes a client might be primarily a ecommerce web client with us. But then, as an ongoing nature, they may have a requirement for support with PPC, with their SEO campaigns for their social media, with a general graphic design requirements for updating the website, what’s happening to our support team. And so essentially, they’ll use probably five or six members of staff going forwards, which is something they couldn’t replicate within the business themselves, without employing six different members of their own team. So our client proposition really is to say, like, yeah, you’re working with us as a group of people as a full service agency that have got all the different skills for X amounts per year. And the way that we tend to work on this is giving clients an hourly, total year, so you might find that one client needs 200 hours a year worth of support, another one might need 500 hours a year. And that time can then be broken up between the different client services that we offer. So it might be that they need 100 hours worth of SEO support might need 50 hours worth of tech support. And we can mix and match it then depending on the requirements of the client. The other thing that sort of lets us do is to because we spread it out over the year, it means that we don’t fall into the trap that most agencies fall into where on a monthly retainer basis, somebody feels like the other party owes them something. So what what typically happens is, a normal client agency retainer is the month by month, they may be spending, I don’t know 2000 pounds a month for 20 hours worth of work. If the agency hasn’t done 20 hours worth of work that month, for whatever reason, if the client hasn’t had a requirement for anything, then the client quite naturally will feel like that should be rolled over to the next month, in which case, they don’t then need to do 40 hours worth of work. And the problem has become the cumulative. So what we do is we look at it over a yearly basis to say over the year, you might need this amount of time in support. And then if you have quite a month, because it’s over spread over a much longer period of time, the allocation of hours can then be split up and absorbed into other months, if that makes sense to you.
Yeah, so I think the way that you’ve done it quite well is they always got to pay the same there. So it’s flatlined. And they can budget accordingly. Tim. So with regards to that, if it is 200 hours a year, they’ll pay, I can’t do the math off the top of my head for the same amount each month for 12 months. And then we can review it periodically so that they always know what is coming out. And we just send them a kind of like a status update, budget tracker type thing of the hours that they’ve used this month and then just be really transparent with them.
That’s right, it fosters a better relationship between the HttpClient. So we’re in HC isn’t trying to shove work out the door, it’s trying to hit a monthly amount of time this should be using and likewise a client doesn’t feel like they need to make up work to use the time the painful. So it creates a more transparent, honest relationship. Yeah, we’ve got clients where for like a couple of weeks in a month given month who might be absolutely saturated with work with our clients might have loads and loads of work on but then the next month might not have very much on just in the way their own business peaks and troughs. And so the way that we look at it over a yearly allocation, even though they pay monthly just for convenience of budgeting, but for the allocation over the year, it means that you can have these sort of really, really busy months and then quiet months and nobody then feels particularly like the other party owes them something and it creates a friendly relationship and agency retainer model Because obviously, I’ve known so many clients in the past that have come to us not happy with their agency retainer because of that exact situation where and the standard answer, something they always say is, oh, they’re not doing anything for the money. But sometimes that’s actually on the client as much as on the agency. Because if the client isn’t providing the agency with direction, or requests for work, or having that sort of conversation to say what they need, then quite often the agency won’t just make up work to do. So it’s a difficult situation for both parties to be in,
I think we the way that I’ve seen this working incredibly well with, especially like the ongoing marketing services, myself and Rebecca are looking at, it’s almost taken one step that actually does hold up a lot of things away from people. So now that they’ve got these like, yearly retainer style things where we’ve got ours, if we want to just do something for them, they don’t need to have it quoted, they don’t need to have it costed. And then by the time that we’ve gone through that process of them getting an internal sign off, it might not be a relevant time for that campaign anymore, or that content piece might have actually gone away and the opportunity to actually like jump on it.
That’s right. I mean, I mean, the whole, the admin saving of it isn’t to be underestimated. So we have a number of clients that we work with on let’s say, a more ad hoc basis, who still spend money with us all the time. But every job we do has to be individually quoted costed and purchase audit. In reality, if you actually add up the time it takes to do that separate invoicing. Sometimes the fact that there won’t get jobs done, because that individual item hasn’t been signed off budget wise. So is that holding that business back, it’s not an efficient way of working compared to having a sort of a fixed arrangement where they can request it and just know that it’s been pulled out at the time that they’ve agreed to for the year. Yeah, agencies love retainers, it gives agencies stability in terms of clients that they’re working with. But in reality, clients should also like them, because it gets fixed budgeting. So you know, there’s always a point where in the year, they can say, look, we’ve allocated X amount of money for our marketing support, how would you we couldn’t replicate that amount of skill and service by employing internally without paying five times more, because you’d have to have separate people for every job. So in reality, for a business that’s got a, say, a reasonable amount of ongoing requirement, our particular proposition in terms of how we manage our our retainers actually worked very, very well for them. Yeah, it really only it’s only really the clients that maybe don’t have very much requirement at all in the year or handle it all themselves, or maybe just a bit too small, but it doesn’t really quite fit for yet. Definitely. And that’s when that’s the clients that tend to sort of sit more ad hoc Lee or ones were their own internal budgeting and Pio processes don’t have allocated marketing budget, let’s say they just you request, they have to request everything, and you get signed off by a manager, which is quite common still. And we still see that across a lot of clients. But yeah, we’ve certainly seen a massive growth in our sort of more committed regular clients that follow this model over the last 12 months. And yeah, a lot of our inquiries are heading down this direction as well. But we’re we’re getting at the moment,
I think enables us as a team as well, to really grow with those clients. And to kind of anticipate their needs a little bit more. So myself and Rebecca, were having the conversation the other day about how we can be more proactive and how we can go out and start pitching ideas to clients to really make that difference on their bottom line as well. Because a lot of the ideas that we have are so tied to reality, and we can make practical changes and then brief those into like the design guide is all at that website, guys to enable to make the whole process of someone’s digital appearance just so much easier. And with having that model where the hours are pretty much already there. All we need to do is Ansel the idea and it’s it’s good to go, we literally have sign off straightaway on it.
That’s great. That’s exactly right. I mean, we’ve got it’s got to be for relationship building clients, yeah, then the more time we can spend with them, the more ideas we can throw at them, the more that we’re working with every month, the more we get to know them. And those kind of ideas where we can sell them into the client, we probably have a good idea they’re gonna like it straightaway. Yeah. So rather than sort of guesswork in it, or having, let’s say, quite vague contact with clients, because to be honest, we have got a lot of clients as an agency. And, you know, being completely frank, we’re not big enough to be able to have in depth conversations with every one of them all the time. So we do prioritise the ones where we have this kind of ongoing monthly arrangement. It just works out more efficient for all parties. Otherwise, you know, we’d have to have a million account managers and it really wouldn’t be very profitable. So we are looking for clients that want to come forward and have more of that relationship with us when we’ve got the capacity to take that on. But we need them sort of, you know, getting you understand that they’ve got a requirement in the business and that we’re not necessarily just a bird Adding cost to them, we are trying to add value to that particular business. And we want to add value by getting to know them, to sell ideas into them that we think are really good. And also then to sort of see the results of that and go, Look, we came up with this idea for you, and it’s produced this results. And yeah, hopefully, they’ll see the value in that. And we’ll we’ll carry on the relationship.
Yeah, definitely. Like I remember Rebecca, the other day, they were doing some work on SEO on one of our clients. And they managed to find out that the stats were just unreal, if people use the search bar function, they were 30% more likely to actually convert, but the search bar function was slightly hidden under design. So if we could get people to see that more and use it, utilise it more, then they’d be much more likely to convert and find what they were looking for. So just by having the time to let the guys go, and like have that because they’ve paid for the hours. And we’re doing a lot of like the data analysis on the background for them every single month to make sure that they are converting as much as they possibly can, enables me to actually go to that client now one on X, talk to them and tell them those stats and quickly get permission to get that signed off.
That’s it. And it’s just making that convenience for you guys making it convenient for the client. And you know, it just Foster’s a longer term relationship, you know, and also, we don’t want to be selling the image that were only interested in selling a web project and then walking away from the client, we want to be there supporting the client ongoingly. If they’re an e commerce website, and they’re a startup, we want to see them start making their first sales, and then help them grow that online business over making more and more sales, and in which case, then paying for agency services to continue to support that, should that never really be a question because they’re seeing the value in what we’re what we’re delivering for them. And honestly, every business is different, you know, b2b, lead gen businesses are handled differently to e commerce, businesses, or even clients, they’re just have sort of ongoing design requirements every month, they just need the sport of graphic designer for product packaging, or social media graphics and things like that. So we try and sort of find a way to tailor our sort of retainer package to accommodate all of that, but give flexibility in case they want to vary the services in the year.
Yeah, and I think just touching back as well, saying that we don’t have like 1000s of account managers to do all of this. Most of the time, the client deals directly with the expert in that industry. And it’s facilitated by a few key people like myself, you, Mike, that actually have those account management skills. But all of us have experience doing the actual jobs that that person needs to be done person needs to service and
completely, I don’t think that’s the thing, isn’t it? Yeah, we try and have like a service lead, or let’s say, an account lead for each client. So that and that’s the person that maybe knows them best, or is maybe most involved in delivering the particular bulk of service that they’re paying for. And obviously, it depends on who the best fit person for that particular client is, you know, we don’t have that model where we just try and throw people off to junior account managers, which is what a lot of agencies do, they’ll take on a client, and they’ll sell them the dream of working with the team, but then actually, the client will find themselves dealing with the the Work Experience has come in that day to do the passing of the emails, you know, and it’s not your that’s not really how we work. We everyone that deals the client is at the senior level, and they then get to know them, they can do that account management effectively. And they can make sure that the team then delivers the effective results that our clients paying for and say it’s been working really well for us, especially over the last 12 months. And it’s something that we’re seeing the most growth in, let’s say in our services at the moment. And so yeah, we’re hoping then to be able to clarify this into a very handy infographic in the near future, just to explain it in a more sensible way. Yeah, no,
it can be is quite difficult to get your head around. But once you do it, it just makes so much sense in terms of like the common sense nature of it.
Yeah, exactly. So yeah. If anybody is looking to sort of have a more evolved relationship with the agency, then yeah, it’ll either be myself or Chelsea, who would sort of deal with inquiry in the first instance. So hit us up at Hello at so

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