As our marketing firm grows, I'm looking for strategic advice on how to offer clients an "Agency of Record" relationship. What tips can you provide?

I'm looking to schedule a call with various mentors after reviewing initial answers and expertise. Thanks for your time -


My very first job out of college (a loooooooong time ago). Was working in a boutique marketing and public relations firm. They hired me to do just that, get new clients and develop the business so that we were the agency of record or on "retainers".

It's funny how many firms don't want an in house team but want the flexibility and accessibility of one. By offering them the access of a dedicated account manager and setting realistic expectations of what they are REALLY in need of, the task of finding these strategic partnerships can be easier than you think.

The first thing you have to do is build your relationships though. It sounds easy enough, but going in to make a sale wreaks of desperation and ulterior motives. If you want to be a firms' go-to on-demand agency you must be valued as not only the expert in the field but the trusted advisors that they need before and while they make moves.

Pricing points also play a factor, but without knowing more about your business Od be hard-pressed to offer any advice on this topic. I'd love to speak more with you about the size of your firm, the direction it's going and what percentage of the business you actually want to devote towards your larger secured contracts versus the freedom of project work. Keep in mind, the balance must always be there in case one falls away down the road. Good luck!

Answered 9 years ago

I'm happy to help. I consult with other agencies and help build this type of relationship.

I would encourage you to become the trusted advisor, not solely the Agency of Record.

In my experience, the AoR locks the client into an exclusive working relationship. This immediately puts the client and agency in competing interests, rather than complimentary partnership.

Rather, focus on the relationship with the client. My longest clients have been out of contract for years and years, but our working relationship continues as a result of the value provided.

I'm happy to field your questions on a call,

Answered 9 years ago

I used to run a small marketing agency, and selling monthly retainers is incredibly important to keep cash-flow and growth steady, so you're on the right track.

Step 1 in selling an AoR type of relationship is to pitch the retainer to warm leads only, so get your foot in the door before trying to ask the client to commit to an annual contract.

The best foot-in-the-door offers are usually website audits and/or marketing strategies. They are small and don't require a lot of red tape to get approved, and they let you start dating before you get married (so to speak) to start building a relationship.

Step 2 - Once the starter project is complete, you should have built a rapport with the client and they should trust you by now. The audit or strategy you performed should include high level recommendations on what the client should be doing/changing to get results.

At this point you can pitch an agency of record relationship to stress the key benefits to the client. A monthly retainer will:

* Allow your agency to generate better results because you'll be able to measure and improve your tactics

* Let them budget and manage their own cash flow easier

* Get priority service because you're blocking off time for them every month.

You can also say that it's your policy to only take on retainers where there's a 6 month minimum commitment in place.

Step 3 - Execute the hell out of your retainer and work your ass off to make sure you get the clients the results you sold them by the end of the contract. This will increase the likelihood they'll keep using your agency and recommend you to their peers.

I wrote a post about selling retainers:

Host a weekly agency podcast:

And offer free proposal templates for agencies:

Book a call if you want to chat further.


Answered 9 years ago

A client who wants an AOR relationship should first be able afford one. These clients want small and ad-hoc projects handled professionally, along with their overall strategic marketing program. Clients are looking for an overall reduction in fees or discount from hiring consultants and a firm without an AOR agreement in place. And, hopefully better or more consistent service because the AOR is in place.

Answered 9 years ago

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