Retained design services – how does it work? - Punch Creative
March 17, 2014

Retained design services – how does it work?

Something we often discuss with new clients who are used to working with design agencies is about becoming their retained agency. But, this is often something that can seem like a daunting leap of faith to those companies who have less experience of working in this way.

From an agency point of view there are different ways to work with clients and of course we can work to up-front costs, timesheet reporting or even a page rate when we are doing multi-page design projects.
Over the last few years though we have seen a trend in new clients wanting to discuss retained services, which is something (if done sensibly) can be a big benefit to both parties. The benefits of increased involvement with an agency who offers web services are pretty obvious (if it is a decent agency..!) but it can have a wide range of positive effects including reduced admin, creative involvement and clear accountability.
Retained services are an agreement of monthly activity – set around a strategy – where a client is invoiced an agreed set amount every month for a set amount of work. That makes it sound simple, but it can be hard to get right, and you need an agency and client who are compatible and committed to working towards a set of goals.

A retainer can be any size and is just as much a potential benefit to clients with relatively small marketing budgets to those with much bigger ones.
Punch Creative retainers involve the full range of our creative services so clients can increase or reduce a certain area (for example digital marketing) when needed. Or, it can help establish long term goals at the beginning of the year (for example SEO) and set those plans in motion with a commitment to working on them month by month with regular review sessions.
[blockquote] Marketing is best done simply and consistently. Good retained services can ensure this happens. A very simple design retainer might include the following activities:
1 piece of Email marketing (4 hours)
3 hours of SEO Activity
3 hours of Website content development
1 hour analytic reporting
4 hours marketing design work
Monthly review meeting (not included in hours)
Total 15 hours per month

2 quick case studies to illustrate how a design retainer can work:

1) A client who wants to focus on increasing website traffic and new business enquiries.
This began with a meeting to asses the client’s requirements and look at their existing website presence. We found the website was something we could work with by building a content management system into the existing structure. This allows us to add new content, improve SEO, monitor visitor journeys and refine the website to be a more effective business tool. We produced a 12 month strategy with a month-by-month outline of activities and timings for how this could be achieved in line with the client’s marketing budget.
2) A Hotel chain with a large and varied need for marketing collateral and overall support.
We had worked with this client for some time and the retainer was proposed (by the client) as a way to work more efficiently and openly and allow them to more accurately budget their marketing spend. This retainer covers a wide range of design services, meetings, support and supplier consultation. Over time this has grown a strong client/agency understanding to the point that we are now involved with their strategy meetings and ongoing brand building work.
Sometimes a year begins with the best intentions, a new website, refreshed brochure or overall marketing push. But, in reality when the phone starts ringing and our daily working lives take hold most people are busy enough with their own jobs to drive forward any ambitious marketing plans..we know because it is the same for us!
But, having experience of working design retainers in this way for some years now we see the major client benefit as developing a relationship with an agency who become a pro-active marketing partner, and who by nature of those retained services will ensure that project goals are met and monthly work is delivered at an agreed cost.
Give us a call if you want to know more about our retained services. We don’t charge for meetings, or brews if you want to pop over too…