Every now and then I see a commercial that makes me think, "Well, who made you do that?"

As a marketer, I can't really help. I immediately strategize through target groups and sales tactics – especially during commercials for the Super Bowl.

If a video really impresses me, I do research at the advertising agency that designed the campaign for its customers – like this one from Sarto Restaurant:

I loved how this ad mixed funky music with action footage. It was also linked to an interview with the Chef Du Cuisine. When I heard about the menu, was inspired by the restaurant and saw how the food was prepared, I got a good idea of ​​the atmosphere in Sarto.

My admiration for the commercial led me to Erba, a creative agency that offers a wide range of marketing and advertising services. Companies use agencies like Erba to create professional and effective campaigns.

It is likely that the Sarto team wanted to use an agency like Erba to draw attention to their restaurant. But what can creative agencies offer? And how do they make money? Next, let's examine these questions.

What is a creative agency? What are you doing?

An agency is an organization that provides a list of services for a particular industry. A creative agency therefore offers services related to marketing and advertising.

For example, some creative agencies offer marketing services, social media planning, advertising and branding, influencer marketing, and more. These agencies typically have different levels or models of how they work and what they offer.

Creative agencies take on a large workload. They usually have a customer base and carry out various projects for them from start to finish. For example, an influencer agency could find branded stores that relate to their niche.

If this sounds pretty broad, it's because marketing agencies usually do it – there are so many niches and special agencies that can be addressed. Due to the slight lack of clarity, you may be wondering how these agencies work or how they make money.

Agencies are a business. Businesses have plans to generate revenue, but there are some exceptions that only apply to agencies. Next, let's examine a list of ways agencies can stay afloat.

Different ways that creative agencies can generate revenue.

1. Price models

Every company needs a pricing model to bill for its services, and agencies are no exception. Pricing models are set by the agency and should reflect the value of the services offered and industry standards.

Some pricing models are more advantageous for agencies than others – they differ from company to company. Your pricing model may be based on one you've seen from another agency, but it doesn't quite work for your business goals.

If you're struggling to develop a pricing model or your agency is growing beyond your current strategy, read this overview of common agency strategies.

Fixed rate

If you've ever paid a deposit for a service and paid the balance after completion, you've taken part in a fixed price model. This model is determined by calculating how many hours a project takes, combined with the hourly rate. This amount is split into two fees: one due in advance and one due after the project.

For example, suppose I charge $ 125 for social media services for a campaign. In a fixed price model, this price is made up of the projected hours needed and the hourly fee. At the beginning, my customer and I agree a deposit of $ 50, the rest is due thereafter.

This pricing model can be useful if your agency is working on a case-by-case basis as this method also includes the retainer approach. In short, you wouldn't have to think about how much to charge for each customer, as that would already be set.

Agencies can face a problem, however, if the project requires much more than the planned hours. In this case, pricing should reflect the work, but that's difficult when the fee is already set. To avoid this, enter your offers. For example, a Twitter campaign for a month can be your own rate.


This pricing model is set after a project is completed. Based on the ROI, the price is set according to the agreement between the agency and the customer, dividing risk and reward.

There are a few steps you need to take to implement this model. First, you determine the goals of the customers and make sure that they are measurable. In this case, let's assume that the customer wants to increase the conversion rates with an advertising campaign.

After identifying the customer's goals, estimating a price, and reminding the customer that they can change after completion. Failure to meet targets could negate a lower price, while exceeding those targets would have the opposite effect.

For this pricing model to work, agencies need a proven track record that exceeds client expectations. This is why it can be difficult to sell this model when you work for a startup – you would have little history to show previous work.

This model is a good choice for agencies with a solid reputation and a history of powerful projects. By demonstrating the value you give your clients, you will increase your rate and make them more comfortable choosing your agency.

Hourly rate

An hourly rate is determined by the number of hours a company works for a customer on a project. In this scenario, if my social media agency ran a client's social media channels for the duration of a campaign, I would charge a fee based on the number of hours spent on it.

If I worked on a campaign at a rate of $ 125 an hour for 40 hours, I would make $ 5,000 with this customer. In general, the agencies set their hourly rate based on the length of service of the employees concerned or agree on a fixed price across the board.

This is a useful pricing model if your organization has multiple specializations. You can offer a broad price for the same service. Or you can assign the best people for specific projects based on the bandwidth.

With this model, however, it can be difficult to predict cash flow. It can also lead to customer fatigue – the longer the work, the more you get paid. As a result, customers may not be sure how efficient they are during the duration of their project.

2. Advertising

Agencies often offer advertising services to help clients broadcast the campaign they helped the client create. Typically, agencies draw a percentage of the ROI from these ads, which is one way to generate additional revenue.

In this sense, agencies can also place advertisements for their own company. In this case, all ad revenue goes directly to the organization. Let's take a closer look at these options here.

Paid media

Agencies can charge customers based on the ROI of payment media. Ads, search results, and sponsored content paid for advertising are common examples of this type of ad. They are usually used to extend range and traffic.

For example, if I ran a social media campaign for a client and included one of my content marketing strategies with paid ads, I might consider including the cost of the ad in the total price that I'm charging the client. Alternatively, I could choose a percentage of the ROI after the campaign is over.

Including paid ad return in projects ensures that work is paid for regardless of the results. You can also use paid media to promote your business. Since paid media support waiting until the end of a campaign, this strategy works well with a value-based pricing model.

Obsessed media

Your own media is simply all the content created by your agency. When my social media company creates blog posts, tweets, main feed posts, pins and other multimedia elements, they are considered "property". The purpose of this type of media is to promote leads.

Agencies can charge based on the number of media they create per campaign or by agreeing a percentage of the ROI with the client. For example, my social media campaign can include 15 of my own media that I can bill at once or based on the customer's goal.

You should consider using your own media to promote your brand. It conveys the value of your company to potential customers and ideally convinces them to convert.

3. Projects

"Projects" here means how you offer your services. While pricing models determine how much you charge, this aspect focuses on what you provide. Agencies approach projects in different ways, and some only apply to their own rules.

Next, let's examine the most common ways that agencies can tackle projects.


This is on a case by case basis. For one-off projects, the customer and the agency agree on a range of services and prices. In general, one-off prices require pricing models that can be flexible so that prices can be set individually.

Agencies can use this method to offer simple campaigns, content creation, or other services that reach customer goals. For example, my social media company can offer advertising campaigns by social media channel or duration at a fixed price.

One-off structures are useful for agencies that can maintain a flexible pricing model. When companies offer many services from which customers can choose, one-off measures focus on the goals. This approach allows customers to fully customize.

Contract customers

Agencies can carry out projects on the basis of a contract signed by both parties. In this contract, the services provided, the contract duration and a tariff are specified. Contract customers are usually for long-term projects.

Suppose my social media company signs a customer with the intention of running their Facebook and Instagram accounts for a fixed monthly rate. The contract lasts one year and includes a bundle of services that correlate with each other, e.g. B. Monthly analysis reports.

This scenario is widespread and many agencies set up their customer relationships with contracts.

Contacted clients can be a good option for your agency if you want a steady income and deep client relationships. Over time, your team will get to know the customer and their needs as they evolve. This can lead to an improved ROI.

However, customers may be reluctant to sign a long-term contract. Make sure you show the customer previous, long-term successful campaigns to alleviate their concerns. You can also run a trial run for a shorter period of time.

Inbound marketing

Agencies can make money with their marketing efforts. Of course, your agency will most likely run marketing campaigns for clients. However, there are ways to monetize marketing for your agency – for example, when you place PPC ads on your website.

Inbound marketing is one of the best ways to save money branding your business. If you add value to your target audience in advance, you don't have to waste time and resources on cold calls and emails. In addition, your leads are more valuable.

When you place ads, you should look for PPC options so you can make money with every click. Also create content such as B. E-books and white papers that promote your brand. This can be included in offers for interested parties.


You are likely to rely on recommendations with some capacity for new customers. The recommendations from satisfied customers give you high quality contacts and new potential customers. In essence, this form of word-of-mouth marketing helps you generate leads.

Recommendations not only promote business, they also strengthen relationships with your customers. Ask them about their contributions to your offers and whether they would recommend your company to a friend. In this way, you are actively committed to lead generation.

4. Partnerships

Agencies can benefit from partnering with other organizations to generate revenue and leads. Think of influencers, customers, and other agencies in your industry who have the potential to participate in a campaign with your company.

Partnerships are mutually beneficial relationships that bring leads to both parties and generate revenue. Thought leaders will turn to you even if you don't secure a partnership. You can continue to expand your network and make new connections.

With influencers

If your agency works with influencers, consider partnering with a few as part of a brand awareness campaign. You are a lawyer for your company and may appear in some ads or sponsored posts.

When thinking about influencers you want to work with, remember to choose one that is closely related to your industry if you are not a customer. These influencers have viewers who are interested in similar content and have great potential to be quality leads.

For example, check out this post from Twitch's Instagram. The post announces the popular game YouTuber, lilsimsie, as an ambassador. Kayla Sims hosts streams on Twitch, where she often plays the computer game The Sims 4.

With 200,000 followers, she is likely to be an effective influencer for Twitch. Between her YouTube and Instagram followers, Sims has the potential to bring Twitch views and advertising revenue from streams.

With customers

Similar to the last example, you should partner with a customer instead of working with an influencer. You can use your testimonials as part of a lead generation campaign. This is also a cheaper alternative to the price of using influencers.

You can receive the testimonial free of charge and use the visual elements created for the customer as content for the display. For example, take a look at this contribution from the influencer agency Viral Nation:

The article shows how one of their customers worked with Goldfish for a sponsorship. Ideally, this post shows what types of customers Viral Nation works with, so similar influencers consider contacting them. This type of content is helpful for potential agencies and influencers who are looking for help and representation for campaigns.

Fans of the influencer Priscilla Ventura and agencies following Goldfish may also come across this post and inquire about services.

With other agencies

Perhaps you run an agency that focuses exclusively on social media. Your team designs, creates and implements campaigns exclusively for social media. It works and it is great.

However, you know that your agency would benefit from offering a little more to its customers. To do this, consider partnering with an agency that offers services that complement social media – it may be a website branding company.

A partnership contract could include a bundled service offering: customers can get both services from any agency at a special price. This is a great way to get new leads and generate new business. Complementary agencies would not be direct competition, and it is advantageous to open up their customers.

Sometimes creative agencies are the unsung heroes behind your favorite campaign. It's always fun to see which agencies have produced a viral campaign. However, to get the resources to build an effective campaign, you need revenue.

Check out what your favorite agencies are doing for additional inspiration. How do they manage pricing models and how do they use their social channels? Do you come across ads for this agency?

Creative agencies can use most of their resources to make extra money. If you're part of an agency that is struggling to make ends meet, consider some of the out-of-the-box ideas above to either restructure your pricing model or increase sales through partnerships or additional services increase.

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