A lot can go wrong in marketing. You might spend too much money advertising in the wrong places to people who have no interest in your organization. Ad copy and imagery may not align with your branding. You could be left completely in the dark as to what's working and what's not. This can happen even when you hire an agency to handle it all. Truth be told: advertising agencies just aren't worth it—unless they're willing to partner with you to get the most value.
Too many agencies use a "set it and forget it" model of marketing, without readjusting strategies as needed. Healthcare, in particular, is constantly changing, and your marketing campaigns should change along with it. Hiring an experienced healthcare marketing agency is a great way to see value from your advertising dollars. Better yet, you should work to form a marketing partnership—and it's an important distinction.
Many healthcare organizations are hesitant to hire a marketing agency. It feels like handing over the keys and asking an uninsured driver to take the wheel. And many agencies are happy to take them from you. They'll build you a beautiful website, set up your online ads, craft a couple of campaigns, and keep the engine running. Unfortunately, they won't let you know when the check engine light comes on—when patients are no longer clicking on your ads, or when you've dropped in the search engine rankings.
That's why smart hospitals and practices seek out a complete marketing partnership. In fact, they insist upon it.
What's the main difference between simply hiring marketers and forming a marketing partnership? Your goals will always align. The agency believes in your mission statement. They know that great marketing can help patients get the care they need. And in the end, they want what you want: to drive more patients to your office.
So how do you get the most value from your marketing partnership?
A marketing partnership means constant communication about your branding and your advertising, for better or worse. To get the most value from your marketing agency, you should be prepared to communicate what you need, but also to accept feedback about what's not working so you can work together to change it.
Designate someone in the office as the go-to marketing manager. Have this person be a point-of-contact and decision-maker so the marketing can move forward if changes must be made. Build internal support from your team, ensuring everyone is on board with new initiatives and ready to respond to inquiries about new ads and campaigns.
Marketing partnerships mean that your agency is working with your best interest in mind. Sometimes, that means you can keep some of the advertising you already have—your website, for example—while making only minor changes to the copy or calls-to-action. However, your agency may find they'll need to do a major overhaul of your website, your branding, or your print ads. And you should be ready to make these changes if they are in the best interest of the company.
Conversely, you should never allow your agency to make a change simply because that's the way things are done. There are many companies out there using a one-size-fits-all approach to website marketing. They will completely rebuild, rewrite, and redesign your website whether or not you need it. In a true marketing partnership, your agency will explain which parts of your website are failing to convert patients and why revisions may (or may not) be necessary.
We say it all the time on this blog: marketing is a revenue center, not a cost center. If you’re not setting aside enough money to invest in advertising that reaches patients when they're ready to schedule an appointment, there's little your team can do to help you. Read The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Healthcare Marketing Budget for more information.
It's important to trust your team. If they need more money to run a campaign, that's because Google, Bing, or Facebook requires it. If you're just starting out, your marketing agency will try to find ways to use your limited budget wisely, but you may need to find ways to allocate more to the budget as you grow.
Busy organizations may simply want to make sure they can be found online. We understand that. Services like PatientFetch offer a great way to help patients find you with minimal overhead and a professional website design. But as you grow, you need more than this to build or maintain your patient database.
You are not guaranteed that this month's patient volume will be the same next month. You need a branding and marketing solution that will keep new patient calls coming in. That means finding a team that can manage every aspect of your digital and traditional media for the most value. A marketing partnership ensures your goals are always aligned with your agency's and that everyone works together for the best possible outcome.