My Screw Ups: Minimal Retainer Edition

August 24, 2016

I recently had a conversation with an asset builder in the marketing world who produces videos. He would often bring his clients to Jelly to have us amplify them so that the videos he does for them are seen. It’s one thing to create a really great asset, but having people see it, enjoy it, and engage with it takes it to the next level and gives it purpose.

About a year and a half ago, we decided to move forward with a minimal retainer model. It was a tough decision, and it ultimately meant that we had to say goodbye to some great brands.

Three problems occurred when we did this:

  1. The transition was difficult. When we found a new home for our under $5000 retainers, they didn’t get the same level of quality or experience as they did with us. Also, we found that our clients didn’t want to go to another agency, so they tried to do it in-house.

2. We missed out on the young, rambunctious clients who were in it to win it. We didn’t get to be a part of the period of early growth for these brands, and help them to grow their retainer and their business.

3. We are now a more mature agency that has great project management and better expectations. Before, we felt like we needed a minimal retainer because it distributes the expectations more evenly across all of our projects. Now, we have clear expectations and communication between our clients and our project managers so that depending on their spend and investment, both parties know what to expect. It allows us to work with more diverse clients, and clients in different stages of their business. It doesn’t limit us to who we work with, and allows us to work with clients that we’re excited about.


Removing the minimal retainer model allows us to share our knowledge and expertise with more people in new ways. For brands that have little budget or a big in-house team, we get them on board with our training packages. Jelly provides training for brands to be able to do their marketing in-house through a series of consultancies. This is a great entity, as with our experience, syllabus, and structure, you’ll get a hands-on, detailed training package. Because of this, we’ve become a provincially recognized group, and you can get a subsidy for training with us. We recommend going with our friends at Granted Consulting for working out the details.

We’re now taking retainers at any amount, and we’ve gone back to the way we originally were. We’re now seeing great results with great partnerships with some amazing brands. Removing the minimal retainer model allowed for us to branch out and work with great new clients that we wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

by Darian Kovacs