Here at Orpical Group, we believe that retainer is a dirty word.

That’s why we banned the word retainer from our company’s vocabulary.

This isn’t a direct shot at retainers as a whole. In fact, we are huge advocates of these types of relationships; they are critical to our overall business. Retainers provide great, predictable opportunities that allow us to sink our teeth into a brand so we can provide better value over an extended period of time.

Our retainer clients know what to expect in terms of billing, which allows for better budgeting and forecasting. It also enables our digital marketing agency to spend less resources on seeking new business, sharpening our client focus. Retainers also allow us to better plan and disperse our resources, creating a generally smoother, more efficient workflow.

With all that being said, we’ve surveyed a variety of people, both in and out of the industry, and there is an overwhelming consensus: retainer just isn’t a sexy word.

We asked a number of different people, “What do you think of when you hear the word retainer?”

Here are some replies:

  • “My orthodontist.”
  • “A lot of money.”
  • “Something big and bulky that goes in my mouth.”
  • “A hold.”
  • “Ew, gross.”
  • “What I give my lawyer every month.”

Here’s what we wished we heard:

  • “A smart investment that enables strategic marketing partner(s) to consistently deliver exceptional results.”

That just wasn’t the case.

As we identified, the concept of retainers aren’t the problem. It’s the general perception of the word, which is diluted by other unrelated experiences. Damn the English language and homophones for being so confusing!

Think about it this way: do you want to retain the same amount of business, or do you want to gain more exposure, more leads, and more business?

To demonstrate our commitment to regainer over retainer, we’ve implemented Swear Jar to our company Slack channel. Swear jar provides a Slack bot that converts colorful language and buzzword-speak (like retainer) to small charitable donations.

While we don’t want to slip up and condone a stagnant marketing environment, we figure that if/when we do, it might as well support a good cause. Use of the word retainer outside of this post and Slack, will be monitored under a company-wide honor-policy, where employees, clients and friends are encouraged to “bust chops” when they hear it.