How many of you pay a retainer to a marketing or comms agency that just isn’t delivering the goods?

How many of you pay a retainer to a marketing or comms agency that just isn’t delivering the goods? It’s a bit like having that gym membership and that you never cancel. You will get around to it one day.

A very good friend of mine recently told me that he was paying a communications agency a monthly retainer and nothing had happened for months. They had slowed down on writing articles, were no longer collating content for social media and just generally had lost interest. Is it me, he asks? Should I be doing more?

A common story and often it happens when your agency has lost touch with your business or they’re not getting enough of your time and attention. In my view, outsourcing only works if your agency truly understands what you do. They need to be able to write convincing and persuasive stories about your business and they need to get to know your brand and market inside and out. In fact, more than that, they need to believe in your brand.

So, what is the solution?

Should you have an in-house team to resolve this? Obviously, we don’t think so. Costs can be upward of £250k pa and to be honest you have too much fee earning to do. An in-house team needs to be managed, and sometimes you just cannot get the range of talent and skills you need for the budgets you have.

Pay-as-you-go marketing

The concept of only paying for what you use is dramatically changing the way modern businesses work. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is just over ten years old and, once considered an untried and unproven route, now nearly every business uses specialist hosting companies and data centres – the days of internal IT teams running basic infrastructure is almost over.

The same is happening to other business processes and marketing is no different. Paying for specialists, but only paying for what you use, is the smart way to maximise the value such specialists can bring to your business. Social media, SEO optimisation, copy writing and traffic generation campaigns are now the realm of specialists and outsourcing offers you potentially more effective and cost-efficient results.

However, if you do decide to outsource, then you need to consider:

  • Do they really understand your business?
  • That they need to work for you not the other way around. You do have to provide some guidance but not do all the hard work.
  • How to stay on top of their activity and success. Agree KPIs and measures at the outset and make sure they update you every month.
  • If they have the skills to suit your business and are versatile and flexible. Your strategy may need content one day but advice on the next social media campaign the next

And the other great advantage of outsourcing is, if it’s not working, you can always change: reducing both the cost and risk.

In this period of uncertainty – why carry the risk? Why carry the hassle when you can get the talent and skill you need for a fraction of the cost. Priceless.