The Pros and Cons of Hiring a CMO Vs. Using an Agency on Retainer

by | Dec 29, 2022 | Brandit360 Posts

The Pros and Cons of Hiring a CMO Vs. Using an Agency on Retainer

by | Dec 29, 2022 | Brandit360 Posts

When it comes to marketing, businesses have two main options: they can either hire an in-house Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or use a marketing agency on retainer. There are pros and cons to both approaches.


Using a marketing agency on retainer can be a cost-effective way to get access to a team of experienced marketing professionals. You can use them as needed, and you don’t have to worry about the high cost of a full-time CMO.


Hiring a CMO is a more costly option, but a CMO can be a valuable member of your team, and they can help you make decisions about your marketing budget and overall direction and even work side by side with your marketing agency.


Ultimately, the decision of whether to hire a CMO or use a marketing agency on retainer comes down to a matter of cost and control.



What is a CMO?


A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a senior executive responsible for creating and implementing an overall marketing strategy. They are typically in charge of coordinating the efforts of all marketing teams and departments, including digital, print, and social media. A CMO should be knowledgeable about the latest marketing trends, and they should be able to analyze data to make informed decisions about how best to reach potential customers.


The Pros of Hiring a CMO

Hiring a CMO comes with several potential advantages. A full-time CMO can be a valuable contributor to the team, and they can help create a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy. Because a CMO is highly knowledgeable about current marketing trends, they can help your business stay ahead of the curve and make you more competitive. Additionally, a CMO is able to devote their full attention to the task of marketing, so they can make decisions quickly and efficiently.


The Cons of Hiring a CMO


The cost is the primary drawback of hiring a CMO. A CMO typically costs more than a marketing agency on retainer, and you may need to invest in additional software and tools to support their efforts. Additionally, while a CMO can bring a wealth of knowledge and experience, they may not have the same level of expertise as a specialized agency.


The Pros of Using an Agency on Retainer


Using a marketing agency on retainer can be a cost-effective way to access the expertise of a team of professionals. Additionally, an agency can be flexible and adaptable to changes in your marketing needs. A retainer also requires less commitment than hiring an in-house CMO, so you can use them as needed and reduce costs when necessary.


The Cons of Using an Agency on Retainer


Not all agencies are created equal. Marketing agencies have different capabilities and cultures. If you choose an agency whose services do not aline with your business goals, you may not be getting the results you want.


Which is the best option for you?


The best option for you will depend on your business’s size, budget, and objectives. If you need more control and oversight over your marketing efforts, then hiring a CMO may be the right choice. On the other hand, if cost is an issue, then using an agency on retainer can be a cost-effective and flexible way to get access to professional marketing expertise.


Here’s what we’ve found


We’ve found that most small businesses don’t set a monthly budget for marketing services. They promote products and services in waves. When they start to see sales go down, they think about marketing.  Or, they think they need to save up to meet the budget required: “Let’s re-design our website, then send out an email campaign” or “Maybe we’ll do some social media for our event in the summer.”


At Brandit360, we offer services based on hourly rates, per-project rates, and retainer-based fees. And yes, we are always happy to accommodate clients who want to add extra projects without any ongoing commitment, we think that choosing a retainer-based package, in which clients pre-pay on a monthly basis, provides the best quality and value for everyone.




Retainers help us predict your needs and do everything we can to exceed your expectations.


While we pride ourselves on being able to accommodate last-minute project requests as often as possible, we do prioritize work for our retainer clients. Companies who have committed to a regular scope of services have reserved our best resources, ensuring that they will have the opportunity to work with consultants who have extensive experience in their industry and have received detailed instructions regarding their content strategy plan.


When you’re one of our retainer clients, we’re focused on building a long-term relationship with you, rather than simply fulfilling the needs of a single project. It’s about serving as your partner, instead of a mere service provider. When we’re working on a retainer contract, we’re thinking long-term about how we can best support your company with marketing services on an ongoing basis, instead of just optimizing results for a single project. You’ll most likely find that this results in a more thoughtful and sustainable use of your marketing budget.


Retainer packages help businesses predict  content marketing expenses and factor them into their overall budgets.


Retainers can take some of the stress off of your business. When you know you’re spending a predictable amount each month on marketing services, you can better define what tasks you want to accomplish each month and know how much you have left to spend on other budgeted items. Rather than simply contracting with a service provider for a particular project, you can develop a strategy for incorporating the agency’s work into your comprehensive marketing plan.


It enables us to be accountable for results.


Sure, you could hire an SEO strategist and a group of freelance writers for a one-time project, and then never talk to them again—but then when the time comes to review your quarterly metrics, you’re on your own with no one to help you understand the context of what’s been done or whether there are improvements that could be made. When we sign on new clients for retainer services, it also means that we’re working with them as an ongoing partner, by building a strategy for success and regularly checking in to optimize our plan. We can look at metrics such as SEO rankings, site traffic, social shares, and more to understand what content is most successful, and continually optimizing for better results. 


It’s typically more affordable than a full-time hire, but far more flexible.


Marketing retainers range from $1500 to $15,000 per month on average—that’s similar to the cost of a moderately experienced marketing hire, with no need to factor in benefits, PTO or payroll burden. And we’re highly efficient in building a marketing plan and executing it. Committing to a monthly retainer helps you plan out your annual budget and may replace the cost of numerous full-time hires, as an agency is far more likely to bring a broad range of skill sets to the mix.


Want to know more about implementing a marketing strategy for your brand? Let’s start a conversation.



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