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  • Writer's pictureLMVisuals LLC

Retainer Model Engagements for Video Production Clients


Video production retainer clients


Welcome to the world of creative partnerships. In this blog post, we're taking you on a journey through the art of retainer engagements – a game-changer for clients needing a seamless and reliable partnership, exploring the myriad of benefits, thoughtful considerations, and potential drawbacks. We'll dive into the nitty-gritty details, exploring the definition of a retainer and when it might (or might not) be the right fit for your upcoming projects.

Summary of Contents:

  1. Defining the Retainer: What exactly is a retainer?

  2. Pros of the Retainer Model (and Cons)

Video director standing on-set with production crew


So, what exactly is a retainer? A retainer model is a business arrangement between a client and a service provider, where the client pays a fixed, recurring fee for a set amount of services over a specified period. 

Regarding creative services, in this case, video production, a retainer model typically involves the client committing to a monthly or yearly agreement. In return, the studio dedicates a certain amount of time or resources to the client's projects. Its predictability characterizes this model, as clients know the cost upfront and have priority access to the services outlined in the retainer agreement.

When considering any new engagement with a potential studio partner, it's essential to understand the engagement types. Here's a comprehensive overview of the pros (and cons) of working under a retainer-based model.


Pros (and Cons) of the Retainer Model:

Consistent Workflow:

  • Pro: A retainer model ensures a steady stream of projects, providing a consistent workflow for both the client and the studio.

  • Pro: Allows for better resource planning and allocation, fostering a more organized and efficient creative process.

Priority Access:

  • Pro: Clients under a retainer enjoy priority access to the studio's services, ensuring their projects receive the attention they deserve.

  • Pro: Faster turnaround times become possible as the studio is committed to promptly meeting retainer clients' needs.

Cost Predictability:

  • Pro: Retainers offer clients predictable costs, aiding in budget planning and financial stability.

  • Pro: Clients can avoid the unpredictability of hourly rates or project-based billing, fostering a more transparent financial relationship.

Long-Term Relationship Building:

  • Pro: Retainer models encourage long-term partnerships, allowing the studio to deeply understand the client's brand, style, and objectives.

  • Pro: Enhanced collaboration and familiarity lead to more refined and tailored creative solutions over time.

Flexibility and Adaptability:

  • Pro: Retainer agreements can be flexible, adapting to the client's evolving needs throughout the year and accommodating any changes in strategy or unexpected projects that arise.


Cons of Retainer Model:

Unused Hours:

  • Con: Clients may worry about paying for unused hours in slower months, potentially leading to concerns about cost efficiency.

  • Con: Studios must manage and communicate effectively to address these concerns and ensure client satisfaction.

Risk of Overcommitment:

  • Con: Studios must be cautious to avoid over-committing to multiple retainer agreements, risking the quality of deliverables and timelines.

  • Con: Balancing multiple retainer clients requires strategic planning to avoid burnout and maintain excellence.

Scope Evolution:

  • Con: Over a year, the scope of work may evolve, requiring clear communication and adjustments to the retainer agreement.

  • Con: Unanticipated changes may lead to negotiations and potential challenges in meeting client expectations.


When (and when NOT) should a client consider a retainer style of engagement:

In short, a client may consider a retainer style of engagement based on the following requirements:

  • Regular content production needs in content-driven industries (non-profits, educational institutes, CPG brands, and marketing agencies)

  • Forecastable / Predictable Workloads 

  • Priority Access and Faster Turnaround

  • Preferred Pricing

  • Flexible Project Scopes that can be adapted over time as their needs and goals evolve

  • Cost and Resource Predictability

In contrast, clients may opt for an alternative style of engagement or a one-off project when they have a specific, specialized project that doesn't require continuous, long-term commitment. For instance, a client launching a unique marketing campaign with a distinct theme or style might prefer a project-based engagement to address the specific requirements of that campaign.

Other scenarios may include:

  • A one-off project might be more suitable when a client has a limited budget or a project with a well-defined scope. This is especially relevant for smaller businesses or startups that need a specific service without the ongoing commitment associated with a retainer.

  • Clients exploring collaboration with a new service provider or studio may opt for a one-off project as a trial run. It allows them to assess the quality of work, communication, and overall compatibility before committing to a more extended engagement model like a retainer.

In these examples, the nature of the project, budget constraints, or the desire for a trial collaboration period can influence a client to choose an alternative engagement style or opt for a one-off project. It provides flexibility and allows clients to tailor their engagement model based on the unique characteristics of each project.


Recap & Conclusion:

Retainers offer clients the benefit of a consistent and uninterrupted workflow, ensuring a steady stream of high-quality video content throughout the engagement while allowing the studio to plan resources efficiently, minimize downtime, and maximize creative output. Additionally, retainer agreements foster long-term relationships, allowing for a deep understanding of brand identity, preferences, and evolving creative needs.

In conclusion, there are other paths to success for your creative needs than a retainer model. When starting any new project, it's essential to understand the intricacies of engagement options, unraveling each model's unique advantages (and disadvantages). Also, remember that every studio's offers, packages, and engagement models will vary and that a retainer model may not fit best based on your project needs.

Whether you need support with a one-off project or are looking for a dedicated team to help with your video needs over time, look for a partner willing to work with you to find the best engagement type based on your unique needs and project requirements.

Do you want to learn more, or are you interested in learning more about the types of work our studio offers? Hit us up for a quick coffee chat! We'd love to connect with you.


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