Do you feel overwhelmed trying to handle all your business’s marketing needs on your own? Do you want expert guidance but aren’t sure where to start?

If this sounds familiar, partnering with a marketing agency could be the perfect solution.

You may have considered working with an agency ongoing before but still feel hesitant. What does a partnership really involve? How can you know if it’s right for your specific business?

That’s why we created this guide. We want to answer all your questions so you can decide if an agency partnership is the right move.

At HexaHive, we act as an extension of your team to guide your marketing to the next level. We take the time to understand your goals then build strategies tailored for long-term growth.

By the end, you’ll understand exactly what a partnership entails. Most importantly, you’ll know how teaming up with experts can help your marketing finally gain traction.

What is a marketing partnership?

A marketing partnership is an ongoing, recurring agreement between a business and a marketing agency. The client pays a monthly or quarterly retainer fee to reserve a set amount of the agency’s time, services, and strategic focus.

This long-term arrangement allows the two to collaborate on multiple projects, campaigns, and overarching goals versus disjointed, one-off engagements. The continuity provides immense value in driving an integrated marketing strategy over an extended period of time.

At our agency HexaHive, we call them partnerships because we act as an extension of your team. We don’t just complete assigned tasks – we take a vested interest in understanding your business goals and guiding your marketing to the next level as a trusted partner.

The structure allows us to focus on big-picture strategy while also handling tactical execution on a month-to-month basis. Our partnership model is customized to align with your budget and evolving needs, without the frustration of being locked into a long-term contract. We earn your business on an ongoing basis, allowing partnerships to be scaled up, down, or discontinued at any time with a 30-day notice.

How does a partnership work?

The process begins with an initial consultation where we meet to discuss your business’s specific needs, goals, and challenges. This helps us gain an understanding of where our partnership should focus.

Next, we put together a custom proposal for you outlining the services, monthly fees, and terms based on your unique requirements. There are typically two structures we use for the proposal:

    1. An itemized list of specific services that will be routinely performed each month with the associated costs for each. This allows you to see exactly what’s included.
    2. A set monthly fee and specific number of hours that we’ll allocate to your marketing per month. This structure is good if we need to start by developing an overall marketing strategy first. It allows flexibility in applying the hours as needed to various types of services.

Once you review the proposal and sign an agreement, we kick off with an in-depth onboarding. Here we dive into the details of your business, brand, metrics, competitors, and more to inform ideal strategies.

Then on an ongoing basis, we provide the services outlined each month, working as an extension of your team to hit your growth goals. We also continuously analyze the data and results, fine-tuning efforts to maximize impact.

How many hours do services take in them?

It depends! There are a variety of factors that impact how many hours a deliverable within a partnership can take. This includes:

    • Technical difficulty: Does your website need a mega menu, multiple languages, a filterable resource gallery, etc?
    • Length: Is it a 400-word article or a 2,000-word article?
    • Design: Is this a brand-new piece or does it follow an existing template?
    • Copywriting: Are we writing, editing, or proofreading copy?
    • Integrations: Does it need to push info to/from other platforms?

We know that might not be the definitive answer you’re looking for, but rest assured that we’re all about budget transparency in our daily communications. After we kick off and develop our initial plan, you’ll always have a full breakdown of exactly where your hours are being spent! Here are some other important things to note about partnerships:

    • You can increase or decrease your partnership at any time.
    • We reserve 20% of your hours every month for account planning, optimizations, and reporting.
    • We don’t lock you into a contract; retainers are an evergreen commitment with a simple 30-day opt-out requirement (because sometimes we work ahead).
    • Up to 25% of your hours can be reallocated to media costs for paid advertising. Anything exceeding this will be billed directly to the client.

At HexaHive, our partnerships encompass a full range of strategic marketing services including:

  • Marketing Strategy – We provide guidance on positioning, branding, personas, messaging, and integrated strategies tailored to your business.
  • Branding & Design – Our team handles your logo design, style guides, graphic assets, and ensures brand consistency across touchpoints.
  • Website Design & Development – We optimize your website for both conversions and maximum SEO impact.
  • SEO – We use technical and content optimization best practices to improve your organic search rankings.
  • Paid Media – We manage and optimize ad campaigns across platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram.
  • Content Marketing – From strategy to creation, we develop targeted blogs, emails, guides and other assets to attract your audience.
  • Campaign Management – We coordinate and execute integrated marketing campaigns across multiple channels.
  • Reporting & Analysis – We track KPIs and provide optimization recommendations based on performance data and insights.

We offer the full spectrum of marketing services to drive growth for your unique business.

What does it cost?

Unlike other agencies, we don’t hide behind our pricing.

If you’re looking for an ongoing partner, we’ve developed transparent retainer models optimized to balance quick wins and long-term strategy starting at $4,500/month. These go upward to $15,000/month depending on your goals and needs. We’ll act as an extension of your team, helping you define goals, create a customized game plan, and report on results every month.

While $4,500+ per month for a retainer may raise eyebrows for new or small businesses, the value becomes apparent when you consider what you receive in return. By comparing the services outlined in your proposal to the cost of an in-house marketing department, you’ll see that a retainer is an exceptional investment.

Let’s illustrate this with an example. Imagine you sign a proposal for a monthly partnership at $6,000 per month, which includes services like web design, media buying, strategy, and graphic design.

Now, consider an alternative scenario where you decide to establish an in-house marketing department. Let’s simplify and assume it consists of a marketing director and a marketing coordinator. The average annual salaries for these roles are $90,000 and $49,000, respectively, based on GlassDoor data. This amounts to a monthly cost of over $11,000, excluding benefits, time off, training, and other expenses. In contrast, a $6,000 monthly retainer is a clear cost-saving option.

You might wonder how agencies can offer these services at a lower rate. There’s no catch. Agencies can provide cost-effective services because they serve multiple clients, spreading expenses and offering access to a team of specialists. Think of it like dining at a 5-star restaurant versus hiring a personal chef. The quality remains high, but the cost differs significantly when shared.

Additionally, agencies operate efficiently. A team of experts working on digital marketing campaigns can deliver top-quality work while being more cost-efficient than someone handling such tasks sporadically.

For many businesses, a retainer partnership with an agency offers a cost-effective alternative to an exclusively in-house marketing department, delivering the same level of service at a fraction of the cost. We aim to complement and maximize the success of in-house teams, offering support, guidance, and expertise where needed.

How do I know I can afford it?
The first step to judging whether you can afford a retainer is to set your marketing budget. It’s important to look at it as an investment rather than an outright cost. The money your business spends on marketing should, if all goes according to plan, make its way back to them through new customer acquisitions and increased sales.

A popular method for determining a business’s marketing budget is to allocate a percentage of its gross annual revenue. For example, a business that grosses $2 million a year and allocates 4% of its sales to marketing would have an annual budget of $80,000. And, while what percentage a business chooses to allocate to its marketing budget varies widely (anywhere from 1-25%), researching average marketing budgets in your industry is a good place to start.

Once you have an idea of what percentage of revenue other businesses in your industry dedicate to their marketing budget, you can see how the industry average fits into your own company’s overall expenses and decide what percentage is right for you based on your growth goals.

How will I know the partnership is working?

We understand you don’t want to wait months for results, but we’ve also been doing this long enough to know that jumping right into random, disjointed tactics won’t produce sustainable growth either.

That’s why we start each retainer relationship by developing a strategic plan that balances quick wins with a long-term strategy.

Here’s what to expect in the first month:

    • A detailed kickoff call to understand your business
    • In-depth review of brand standards and marketing materials
    • Creation of an account strategy plan
    • A two-to three-month marketing game plan outlining your main goals
    • Focus on essential tasks from your to-do list
    • Collaboration opportunities for your internal team (we’re all about teamwork after all)

By consolidating your marketing efforts under the retainer umbrella, it allows for more precise tracking and reporting of your strategy’s progress. We calculate key performance indicators, such as ROI (return on investment), to offer valuable insights and gauge the success of the partnership. 

Remember, your marketing budget is an investment, and immediate returns may not always be apparent. While you should monitor reports and watch for any concerning trends, it’s crucial to give the agency’s strategy time to prove its effectiveness before concluding its performance.

What are the benefits?

There are numerous benefits to partnering with us as a strategic extension of your team. The top perks include:

    • Cost savings – Retainer partnerships offer discounted rates compared to one-off projects. You also get access to a full team of experts without expensive overhead.
    • Predictability – Know exactly what you’re investing each month with a set fee. Easier to budget and plan long-term.
    • Priority service – Partners get put to the front of the line for any urgent needs. We can respond faster thanks to familiarity.
    • Scalability – Easily scale up or down as your business needs change. Add or reduce services to fit your evolving requirements.
    • Enhanced workflow – Consistent collaboration leads to smoother workflows and better strategic alignment over time.
    • Deeper expertise – We learn your business inside and out, allowing us to create tailored strategies that get results.
    • Creativity – Long-term partnerships provide the flexibility to experiment with innovative approaches.
    • More data and insights – Ongoing access to your metrics lets us continuously optimize efforts and unlock growth opportunities.
    • Adaptability – We can pivot strategies as new market conditions arise or you launch new products.
    • Big picture focus – With retention, we focus on long-term vision vs quick wins. This leads to sustainable growth.

The continuity of an ongoing partnership provides immense strategic value compared to fragmented project work.

When does a marketing partnership make sense for my business?

The best times to consider a marketing partnership include:

    • When you’ve reached over $600K in annual revenue. This shows you likely have the budget to support a partnership investment.
    • If you lack full-service marketing expertise in-house. A partnership provides access to strategists, designers, writers, media buyers, and other specialized experts.
    • When you need help with long-term strategy. An agency can provide guidance if you’re unsure where to focus marketing efforts.
    • When you want to invest in growth. Partnerships aim for long-term gains through sustainable strategies versus quick wins.
    • If you have ongoing marketing needs. Retainers are ideal for consistent needs like social media, SEO, ads, and campaign management.

On the other hand, short-term project work may suit you better if:

    • You have a very limited budget or marketing needs.
    • You just need help with a single campaign or project.
    • You don’t plan to actively market or expand your business.

Overall, if you’re ready to invest in expert guidance and integrated strategies to drive growth, an ongoing partnership could be highly beneficial for scaling your marketing.