By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Doctors who are practice owners, group practice administrators, hospital administrators and others do battle daily with the need to efficiently manage financial resources while maintaining (or growing) their businesses. Sometimes outsourcing is a cost-effective tool…and sometimes it isn’t.
We admit to a small bias in this discussion, but it’s not: “outsourcing” translates to “hire our medical advertising agency.” Our healthcare marketing business is to help successful providers become more successful. Our bias is in favor of careful financial stewardship and applying resources where they produce results.
That said, here are some fundamental considerations for marketing decision makers facing the question of outsourcing.
The deciding factor in this (as with most) business questions is the Cost/Benefit Ratio. What course is most likely to produce the best outcome/results for the required investment? One option might be a new full-time hire. Increasing the headcount adds significantly to the administrative overhead on a continuing basis. (Consider salary, vacation, taxes, benefits, insurance, etc.)
This might be the best course of action provided the new hire (a) is well qualified, with the right skills and experience, and (b) that the well-defined work is a continuing need that justifies a permanent position. If so, then hire.
In healthcare marketing and advertising these factors do not always align easily. The necessary range and depth of various talents is rarely found in a single individual. What’s more, a provider’s marketing requirements can be episodic.
Times to consider marketing and advertising outsourcing.
The specific situations that we have encountered in our work with medical practices and hospitals throughout the nation have varied widely. But the following list characterizes many of the common circumstances that signal outsourcing should be considered. (In random order, and with some degree of overlap…)
- When your budget cannot support a full-time position.
- When in-house facilities, equipment, supplies and space are at capacity.
- When proven expertise will produce a better Return-on-Investment.
- When the project size or urgent deadline exceeds your capacity.
- When you are growing faster than you can hire staff.
- When you are in a period of organizational transition; changing, growing, downsizing.
- When you lack the time, technology or expertise.
- When you need a consolidated or consistent (single voice) branding message.
- When you need a third-party perspective to increase productivity and cost-effectiveness.
- When you need highly specialized and/or experienced creative talent.
- When you need to adjust to changing competition or market factors.
- When you need to grow or expand to fill existing capacity.
- When you need to tap proven experience quickly.
- When you want to contain costs for defined deliverables within a defined time frame.
- When you want to launch a completely new product or service.
- When you want to maintain focus on quality of care without distraction.
- When you want to reach a completely new audience or introduce a new product/service.
- When you need to reduce overhead costs or headcount.
- When you want to use best practices (but have no time or budget to experiment).
- When your one-person marketing department is the office manager.
- When your time-honored marketing plan and budget are losing effectiveness.
The cost/benefit ratio most often favors healthcare marketing and advertising outsourcing when a range of specialized skills and experience is needed for a defined term.