Today’s New Marketing Agency Model

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Why Monolithic Full-Service Agency Structures Are Outdated

If you have done business with a traditional marketing agency, you have experienced both the good and the bad of working with their legacy model. Most agencies for the last few decades to today have insisted on costly ongoing retainers to secure their services. Much like the touch tone phone, this was once a good idea but is no longer a fit for most clients.

The positives of going with a marketing agency on a traditional retainer model is that you receive their attention for contracted services, and the larger your retainer the more attention you have bought each month. However, this model also lends itself to inefficiency and wasted spend.

Legacy Marketing Agency Retainers Are Inefficient

Is the traditional marketing agency model like doing business with dinosaurs?
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A large percentage of the investment in an agency retainer goes to overhead and unused service hours. For example, a traditional marketing agency needs to keep employees on staff that may not be at full capacity currently, but will be at some point in the future. Who helps pay their salaries? Your retainer. In addition, the standard way of doing business for agencies with brick and mortar presence is to spend heavily on appearances and “looking cool.” In essence, your ongoing retainer spend is helping the agency market itself to prospective clients and employees.

Because the legacy marketing agency retainer model tends to be rigid in scope, it means your team is normally fixed in size and skillset. Even when your current needs do not require a graphic designer and copywriter, they may still fall under your team and therefore be funded in part by your retainer.

Some clients have adapted to this by moving away from ongoing retainers and more towards project engagements. This is a good start, but does not solve all of the issues with the traditional agency.

There Is a Better Way to Engage With a Marketing Agency

So, if the existing retainer model doesn’t work, what should clients who need marketing services do? There is a new way to go forward that solves the problems with legacy client engagements: the virtual marketing agency.

A virtual marketing agency, where expert freelancers come together to create the best team for each engagement, beats out the traditional model in several ways:

  1. No overhead going to the office expenses or other costs of a traditional marketing agency
  2. More qualified and experienced consultants on projects
  3. Only skilled members who are actually required join each project team

These three advantages are significant, because they mean you as a client get higher quality marketing services for the same or less investment. An ongoing arrangement with a virtual marketing agency can be even better than a legacy retainer model, while providing more flexibility to both parties.

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