Digital Marketing Services

An Honest Cost Guide

We understand. Hiring a marketing agency is a big decision.

Our goal is to empower you with honest and reliable information about what marketing services cost so that you can make a decision that’s best for your company and your budget. We’ll aim to answer some of the most common questions we get asked and provide insights that few agencies are willing to share.

Why Costs Vary

How much do marketing agencies charge? Every marketing agency charges a different rate, and for a reason.

Lower-Cost Agencies usually do less customization or have less experience.

Higher-Cost Agencies usually have more experience, spend more time developing your strategies and content, have tried-and-true systems in place to make sure that things are running successfully, and will spend more time talking to and meeting with you.

If you have specific sales and conversion goals, then hiring an experienced marketing agency is probably where you need to be.

Base Rates and Additional Costs

$2,500/month: Social media marketing with an experienced agency that focuses on sales and conversion (like Potluck Consulting).

With an investment like this, you can expect to get a contract for 6 to 12 months.

Additional Costs

While every agency has its base rate for services, carefully calculated by years of experience, wo-man hours spent on a project, and what they’re going to deliver to you in return, these rates can increase based on a few project needs:

  • Number of social media accounts
  • Number of emails, blog posts, and social media posts in a month
  • Number of ad drafts and total ad spend ($) they’ll need to manage and watch closely, in our case, daily.
  • A custom workflow for your project that’s outside of their tried-and-true processes
  • If you need regular standing calls or in-person meetings.

Some Examples (Cost per Month)


Additional Social Media Platform – $300-400

Most people start with the standard 2 platforms, 4-8 total posts per week, then scale up at the 3-6 month mark. Because your agency will be creating strategic content for each platform, they’ll need to set aside time and use their brainpower to tackle this strategically.

Email Marketing – $1500+

Similar to social media marketing, this rate increases based on the types of emails that need to be set up and the quantity of them. Your marketing agency will determine an email marketing strategy that works hand-in-hand with your organic social media marketing and paid ads strategy. If you have an eCommerce brand (online shopping!), then the strategy will likely need to be more complex and with more emails to keep your customers moving through the sales funnel.

Blog Content – $900+

This service is one that can increase in cost quickly based on the number of blogs and pages you might need to be created a month. Most brands choose to publish 2-8 blog posts a month and optimize for search. With two blogs as a starting point, you can work your way up to 8+ (if necessary).

Why Longer Contracts?

Marketing agencies know that marketing is a long game, so they set their contract lengths to maximize your projects’ potential for success.

Month 1 – Setting Up

If an agency is providing a customized service for you, there are going to be 2-4 weeks of setup time. During this time, they’ll gather logins, files, talk to you about your goals, do an audit on what you’ve been doing, develop a marketing strategy, and then front load and create all of the pieces needed to launch. This is a lot of work and time spent collaborating with you to make sure that they’re creating the best plan possible to meet your needs.

Month 2 – Getting Going

After your setup month, everyone will be excited to hit go! This first month live is where we all act like scientists and track the progress of our initial strategies in the most controlled ways. If things don’t work, we’re back to the drawing board and need to create a new plan to achieve our goals. If things look promising, we don’t stop there. It’s time to optimize. We take hold of the tactics that worked and double down, tweaking as needed. This process never ends.

Month 3 – Seeing Results

It truly takes at least two months to start to see things snowball. Month three is fine-tuning and optimizing. Within six months, the goal is to have a well-oiled machine that allows you to continue to invest in the things that bring a profit. From there you may want to expand your budget to test and explore new opportunities.

What else do I need to be aware of when thinking about working with an agency? 

Depending on how the agency is structured, there can be other costs that you will need to consider to really get a full picture of what your investment looks like.

White Labeling

It’s extremely common in the digital marketing industry for agencies to sell services that they don’t actually know how to do or don’t offer in-house. In order to offer clients more solutions, marketing agencies re-sell services offered by other people or agencies. This is called “white labeling.” It’s like repackaging a service that someone else does. If an agency says they’re “hiring a subcontractor,” this is most likely an indication of white labeling.

What does that mean for you? You’ll likely be paying more for the service than if you were to go directly to the person offering the service.

At Potluck Consulting, the marketing work our clients hire us for is done in-house. We do not white label our services nor do we hire subcontractors to service the main parts of our contracts. This means that every strategy and main project piece you get from us is done by an employee. To be fully transparent, on occasion, we do contract a copywriter or two to help our team with writing needs. When we do, Potluck Consulting absorbs the cost so that there is no additional cost to the client. And again, all marketing efforts are handled in-house by our full-time staff.

This keeps your costs down and ensures that a dedicated person who knows your brand is working on your project throughout every stage. We prefer to do it this way because let’s be honest, it’s the most transparent, efficient, and cost-effective structure for our clients. We’re not about industry standards and instead, want our clients to get the most out of their investment.

Paid Advertising Spend

If you’re planning on running ads through an agency, you need to know that most agencies don’t pay for your advertising spend. Advertising spend is the money spent to place the ads you’re running. The reason agencies usually don’t pay for your ad spend is that it’s an accounting nightmare and if you tallied up all of their clients’ budgets, it could account for hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more). So it’s best for both parties to just keep this separate.

You’ll want to chat with your agency about what type of budget you’ll need on top of their service fees if they’re going to manage your ads. On top of the paid advertising spend, it’s common for an agency to charge a management fee (a percentage) on the total ad spend spent each month. This ranges greatly from agency to agency and is in place so that the person managing the ads can spend the time needed to monitor and adjust ads as needed.

At Potluck Consulting, we monitor your ads’ progress daily and charge a 15% management fee. Big media companies that offer paid advertising, like newspaper companies, can charge up to a 35% management fee.

Software & Subscriptions

Another thing to think about is if you’ll need to create accounts for and pay for third-party tools. This could include email software, apps for your website, or even a couple of hours to have your developer install or change something on your site for the campaign. Always ask if there are any additional costs like this in the proposal process.

So, is hiring a marketing agency right for you?

You can now stop Googling “how much do marketing agencies charge.” The cat’s out of the bag. That’s how marketing agencies like Potluck Consulting price their services. If you’re feeling informed and excited to jump, contact us to start a conversation about your marketing goals. We look forward to chatting with you!

Let’s get started





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