How Do Marketing Agencies Charge

picture of how do marketing agencies charge bannerThis week on SEO B.S., we are going to cut to the chase and even cut through the line of b.s. on the popular question “How Do Marketing Agencies Charge?” This is especially important because some agencies do not even disclose their fee structure and clients find out the hard way. Further, this topic would even encompasses “how much do social media marketing agencies charge,” because the fee structure is going to be similar. 

Now, most of you may have already ventured on Google and searched for…

How much do marketing agencies charge per hour?

The average blended rate for a full-service agency in today’s market is $150 an hour to $200 an hour in most markets. In the bigger markets, it runs closer to $250 an hour. The other approach is to use a rate card that creates a specific hourly rate for each employee or position in the agency.

“Is this REALLY in line with
HOW do Advertising Agencies Charge for Services???”


Above is actually true but…there is a big BUT! Agencies can be sneaky with this information because for a small business…

“Who is going to want to pay between $150-250 per hour?”

So, of course, they are going to be hesitate with this information.

What is the ACTUAL Marketing Agency Pricing?

In my experience, How Do Marketing Agencies Charge is a sales tactic. Remember, marketing agencies are sales and they are selling you on their services. So, in sales, they are not going FREELY give you per hours data. They are going to warm you up to it or only tell you if you specifically ask. 

This is usually what occurs. Marketing Agencies charge a monthly package deal. Think about it this, if you hire an attorney, an attorney usually charges a retainer fee, right? Marketing companies are very similar, they charge a monthly retainer. See the example below of actual SEO Packages. 

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This is not necessarily a trick but it is done on purpose. Marketing Agencies never talk about per hour fees, they usually sell a package deal. So, they usually deflect the hourly rate to a monthly package rate. And, the same goes for “how much do social media marketing agencies charge” – they charge a package deal. For example, for $500 per month, they will do 4 posts per month. 

The Issues with Marketing Agency’s Package Deals!

When we review either “how much do social media marketing agencies charge” OR How Do Marketing Agencies Charge, it doesn’t matter, they both do the same thing. The issues are…

  1. Agencies focus on package deals because they can cut corners and outright lie about how much time they actually work on your marketing. This is called scaling. From the example above with social media agencies, a client pays $500/month for only 1 post per week. All the agency does is stick all the post in a scheduler in one sitting, taking about 20 minutes and they are done. So, the client paid $500 for only 20 minutes of time.
  2. Agencies charge package deals cause it is a deflection of what they charge per hour. They really want to not do hourly work cause they would not be able to scale their agency. 

How Do Marketing Agencies Charge: The Breakdown

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SEO Packages

Lets breakdown a real package deal, shall we. Now, first we have to understand, ALL Agencies have a hourly fee structure no matter if they tell you or not. If you sign a monthly contract, usually it is within the fine print of the contract.

For easy math, let’s take a $1500 per month SEO Package with the Agency charging $150 per hour.

150 / 1500 = 10 hours

In this example, best case scenario, the agency charging $1,500 per month is only going to give your 10 hours of their time.

But, it doesn’t stop here. Remember, what I said previously, marketing agencies main objective is to scale their company. Per contract, they it might say 10 hours, but they still try to scale it even lower. For example, nearly every agency I work with will tell me…

“Chad, we billed them for 10 hours but if you can get it done in 2 hours, that’s even better.”

Lets Recap…

In the beginning, agencies are reluctant to tell you what they charge per hour because they want you to assume they are working day and night on your marketing. Even though, we know this is not true but clients really think if they pay $1500 per month that the marketing company is working 20 hours per week on their business. This idea is ludicrous. Further, if you review a marketing or SEO package, theres usually so many things included and if you don’t do digital marketing or SEO yourself, you will be fooled 100%.  

If it were me and I was going to hire a marketing agency, for one – I wouldn’t – but if I did, this is what I would do.

  1. I would find out what they actually charge per hour. Period!
  2. If they don’t tell me or play around too much – move on!
  3. Once they tell me! For example if it is 10 hours per month for $1500 and I am okay with that – Guess What? You have to micromanage them.
  4. Did I say, MICROMANAGE! Yes, I mean extreme micromanage.
  5. If you don’t micromanage, they will not do the work, and your business will not get results, period! The issue is that micromanaging wastes your time – emotionally and physically. So, is it worth it. Learn more here


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