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Hardball Questions to Ask BEFORE Selecting a Marketing Partner

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

young man wearing a tie and boxing gloves close to his faceThe confusion is common…and somewhat understandable.

Just as patients cannot easily evaluate and compare surgeons, it can be difficult for provider management to understand the differences among marketing companies.

From a distance, a health care marketing consultant, a medical marketing company, a healthcare advertising agency (and a bunch of similar labels) can all appear to be much the same animal. The trouble is, they are often quite different. And you gotta ask some hardball questions to find out who's right for your team.

When a medical group or hospital is ready to bolster their marketing resources with an outside firm, distinguishing among professional skill sets—and selecting the right marketing company—puts a lot at stake. At risk is the expense itself, plus the cost of lost opportunity, misdirected resources and failing to meet meaningful goals.

So, exactly how can you determine the important differences? And with the right choice, which company will best enhance your marketing team, bringing the right experience, capabilities and cultural fit that meets your business objectives?

As a guide to working through this challenging selection process, we’ve compiled a checklist of 17 questions for any organization that’s considering an outside company to handle your marketing efforts. (The complete White Paper is free; more about that in a moment.) As a starting point, one of the core considerations is the heart of Question #10.

Ask: Do they track the success of their programs, including the Return-on-Investment of your marketing efforts?

Some firms excel at selling themselves…so much so that the razzle-dazzle presentation has more showmanship than substance. The fact is that true business goals are quantifiable and measurable, and so are results. The true measure of healthcare marketing success is Return-on-Investment (ROI). So the question to ask isn’t: “What did you do?” The real question is, “What did tangible results did you actually produce?”

As our special report advises: “Does the marketing team you’re considering set ROI goals for your marketing campaign? Or do they shrink away from any discussion of (quantifiable) success measurement? Be forewarned, the vast majority of ad agencies and marketing firms prefer to talk about fuzzy metrics like ‘number of exposures’ or ‘awareness.’”

Being “active” is not the same as being “productive.” And for meaningful and specific results, the right marketing partner will utilize methods that track specific results in relation to marketing expenditures. Goals and performance are measured with concrete metrics such as the number of new patients or actual revenue performance. Ask about that.

A free checklist to save you time, money…and avoid a lot of grief.

If you’re considering outside help for marketing initiatives, be aware that not all companies are equally knowledgeable, experienced, capable, committed or specialized.

"how to choose the right marketing company for your healthcare organization" e-bookFor more about this idea and other hardball questions, our downloadable checklist is sound advice: How to Choose the Right Healthcare Marketing Company for your healthcare organization. There’s no charge for this advisory report, plus it includes a free subscription to our Insight Newsletter for ongoing ideas and strategies. [Download Now]


Lonnie Hirsch

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Marketing a healthcare organization can be challenging - even painful if you don't approach it with the right knowledge, tools, and guidance. By reading about mistakes and lessons others have learned the hard way, you can boost your marketing effectiveness and take a shortcut to success. Discover how to avoid these "Seven Deadly Sins". Plus, join over 30,000 of your fellow healthcare providers with a free subscription to our Insight Newsletter.

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