The certainty of a retainer in uncertain times
As the world gradually emerges from the lockdown restrictions, advertisers and agencies are bracing themselves for the uncertainties of a new norm. What is almost for certain is that budgets are unlikely to bounce back soon. Without the same financial resources, advertisers may breathe a sigh of relief at the faux benefit of not being held to a commitment of a retainer.
However, the fact remains: That the value of a committed relationship with a trusted advisor is magnified in a global crisis. Now, more than ever, is the time to enter into a retainer with your agency.
A stronger brand in a post-covid world
In uncertain times, customers invariably look towards trusted brands for comfort and peace of mind. But brand building is not overnight. It comes from a long-term commitment that’s driven by a consistency of messaging and tone of voice. With repeated exposure to your company pain points and target buyer behaviors, a retainer agency that you work in synergy with can better maintain a consistent brand experience. This advantage is far greater than what a brand guide passed through the hands of various contract agencies can give you.
Accelerate your speed to market
The new norm calls for organisations to negate the adverse impact by quickly pivoting to different markets for growth. The ability to do so comes from a trusted agency that has intimate knowledge of your company. This familiarity allows your marketing efforts to be delivered effectively with better turn time. To emerge faster is crucial to capitalise on new opportunities.
The ability to set goals and KPIs
While a single communication piece might deliver great customer acquisition results, it will unlikely retain those customers without a long-term strategy. By setting medium to long-term goals with your agency, you can generate strong momentum and drive better brand recognition. This can only be done with a retainer agency.
A dedicated, reputable agency for consistency and quality
Regardless of the scale and complexity of your projects, it is always better to go with retainer agencies or at least a trusted agency as compared to one-off piecemeal agencies which may lead to issues such as quality, consistency and turn time. Retainer agencies, with the knowledge that targets and KPIs are to be met, know the importance of building a long-term relationship. They will usually put dedicated staff on retainers — those with the relevant experience, knowledge and skill set that best fits your business. The result: Consistently good and insightful work, be it a full campaign or a simple eDM.
Navigating a strange world with a familiar partner
Communications strategies will need to be adjusted to seize new business opportunities – or make up for any that may have fallen by the wayside due to the crisis. Many marketers will be unsure and hesitant, understandably so. Which is why having a trusted and experienced advisor with you is ever more important. Your retainer agency has a win-win relationship with your company and knows that you are vested in them as they are in you. This bond cannot be possible with collabs and collectives, made up of individuals coming together. Such collaborations deliver on transactional, one-off projects that do not build knowledge or relationships vital to survive in a strange new world.
Agility with cost efficiency and time savings
The pandemic has forced companies to think on their feet and reconsider how they spend their budgets. Retainers can work harmoniously with budgets as it is highly flexible — month-to-month, six months to two years. Retainers are more cost efficient as they usually are discounted in exchange for a signed long-term commitment. In fact, the agency often does not charge for certain small services as goodwill to a client. Savings also comes in terms of time you have to spend educating an agency and getting them up to speed prior to project execution.
One may argue that retainers disincentivize an agency from delivering the best possible work as they may grow complacent on a big retainer. This would not be a problem with KPIs and constant client-agency engagements on goals while planning ahead for upcoming campaigns.
However, with project work, your company risk shedding full attention and the all-important knowledge base and IP that comes from a dedicated agency with extended experience on your business. This can hamper the creation of the most targetted and potent work.
In a post-covid environment, it only makes sense for a smart marketer to shift to a commitment-based and results-driven relationship with a retainer agency. Your company needs a trusted advisor and reassuring hand to navigate with in unchartered waters. This relationship offers consistency for long-term growth, as well as cost-effective pricing and access to the most suitable agency talent. It allows your company to set goals in an agile environment, putting it in a strategic position to quickly pivot and capitalise on new opportunities.
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