What is an Advisory Retainer?
An Advisory Retainer is a type of ‘pay for access’ consulting retainer, where there are no specific deliverables, as is the case with ‘pay for work’ consulting retainers, you’re paying to be able to access the consultants knowledge, experience, expertise, tools and network.
When is an Advisory Retainer used?
An Advisory Retainer is best used when you have a longer term on-going project that you’ll need a consultant for, and after you’ve already completed a successful project with that consultant, you’ve both enjoyed working together and the project was a success.
During the course of a project, you will have decided if the consultants knowledge and expertise is up to part. You’ll know how they work and how they communicate and how they meet deadlines. You’ll know if they augment your team and its tools and knowledge or if there is large overlap. Finally, you’ll know if they put you on a path a success or not so much. It’s important to flesh out these details before commiting to an Advisory Retainer consulting relationship.
What makes an Advisory Retainer Special?
An Advisory Retainer is special because it provides you with on-going value, as soon as you need it. Large, dynamic projects such as web design or marketing tend to have many stakeholders involved, many ideas and options to consider, and a lack of subject matter experts within the company as it relates to web design and marketing. Having on-demand access to a 3rd party consultant that has deep knowledge of their industry to supplement your team provides huge dividends on the back end of a project when it is to be executed.
How much does an Advisory Retainer cost?
An Advisory Retainer relationship offers many benefits in exchange for a low monthly fee, usually between $1000/mo and $3000/mo depending several factors, such as the level of service and accessibilty you need, for example, unlimited direct access within 15 minutes would come with a higher premium than having access within an 8 hour timeframe with a maximum of 8 hours of time per month. Another factor is the level of expertise the consultant can offer. This isn’t as one dimensional as it sounds. A more experienced consultant can offer years of hands on experience, coupled with a massive network they’ve nurtured over those years, not to mention the array of tools at their and their networks disposal.
Our starting rate for Advisory Retainer consulting is $1250/mo and provides you with incredible value and benefits.
What are the benefits of having a consultant on Advisory Retainer?
The benefits of having a consultant on Advisory Retainer are many, depending on your project you would realize different benefits. Some of the most popular benefits our clients of have seen are:
- Project Guidance – Having a seasoned leader and mentor for your team members throughout all stages of your project, to provide policy and design inputs, is paramount.
- Immediate Direct Access – Consultants also have project workloads. Depending on the time of year and workflow of the consultant, access and scheduling for your needs could otherwise be delayed. Having an Advisory Retainer in place secures your access to your subject matter expert when you need them most. Phone, Text and Email access is a must.
- Quick Advice – Most internal team members have various ‘quick questions’ during most web or marketing projects. Having a consultant on standby gets your team the quck answers they need to stay on task and on target with their pieces of the puzzle.
- A Tie-Breaker Opinion – The good idea fairy visits even the most aligned and tightly need team. Digital Consultants often provide the tie-breaker opinion for teams that have several options or good ideas and need to choose a direction to move with the project. A Consultant is completely non-partial to internal team clicks and will make a solid, data driven decision for you.
- An extra set of eyes – Whether for internal process documentation or live web copy, having an extra set of eyes and experience helps with a project done right the first time, and reduced duplication of effort down the road.
- Alternative Approaches – With years of experience in diverse businesses, a consultant can provide viable alternatives to handling urgent, sensitive or complex situations.
- Expert Analysis – Most web and marketing projects present complex problems and solutions. And what may seem obvious or like a good idea at first glance, may have long term implications because the problem or solution wasn’t initially understood at a level it required. Many consulting interactions leave you and your team with more things to consider than first thought – this pays off in the end because your team and you will have the information you need in time for it to be useful.
What is the opposite of a Pay for Access Retainer?
The opposite of a pay for access retainer is a Pay for Work Retainer. This is what most people think about when they think about retainers. The pay for work retainer model typically has specific deliverables that fall within its scope. For instance, you may need graphics created for your website on a regular basis, and you would have a graphic designer on retainer to create, crop and edit graphics on a recurring basis. The graphics are a deliverable that the designer is working on and completeing FOR YOU, as opposed to guiding or teaching you which graphics, or colors or placement would be better and why.
In one case you’re literally paying for work to be done, in the other, you’re paying for the overarching depth and knowledge and expertise that complex projects and internal teams need to do their best work.
How are Access Retainers billed?
Access Retainers are billed upfront, with a monthly fee, and come with a service level agreement such as $1250/mo for access to as much as 10 hours of support per month. The service level agreement will detail the amount of virtual/phone/text/email time vs on-site time/travel/per diem, etc. Travel time is usually included for local clients and excluded for out of state or out of country clients.
The important thing is to thoroughly review the service level agreement and request any changes you may need to meet your level of service needs. Often times, compromises are made that change the level of service without negatively affecting the price, such as getting 10 hours of service instead of 8 in exchange for a longer response time, like four hours instead of one.
Need a Digital Consultant to advise on a big project?
Do yourself a solid a reach out to us, we can help. If you’re serious about implementing a high value, high profit web project for your oganization, you’ll want someone in your corner that can capture essence of the project from planning to profit. Let us know when you’re ready – cheers.