By definition, your healthcare advertising agency is a partnership arrangement. Choose this business associate carefully; it's not an ordinary vendor or supplier resource. You're not buying latex gloves or file folders here. You're hiring a trusted professional colleague that understands your business and your growth goals.
If you are buying "creative services" or "website design" where the work is measured in billable hours and the final deliverable is a "pretty picture," you really don't have a health care agency. Chances are you need more, and should expect more, than simple "consumables."
To be successful, the relationship that you establish is one where the medical advertising agency stands shoulder to shoulder with you and puts itself on the line to produce tangible and measurable results.
The confusion between a "creative vendor" and a true agency relationship is more common than you might think. We see it often in our work with healthcare providers, medical group practices, hospitals and health care systems across the nation. In part, the reason for this could be that doctors and surgeons—who are highly skilled in the art and science of their medical discipline—are usually not well trained in business or marketing.
It could also be that anyone can claim to be in "marketing." There's no license required and the definition is often loosely interpreted. You need look no further than your reception area to find a "marketing person" who is selling refrigerator magnets, phone directory display space or flashy website assembly.
Some faux-marketing providers are easy to identify, but others are not. For example, each year we are invited to attend or make a presentation at various healthcare conferences and meetings. Inevitably we'll spot an elaborate presentation that says: "We're really creative and we'll give you a better brand."
It's a polished and compelling pitch, but at its heart, it is not far from the folks who want you to buy what they sell (like magnets), not because it's what you need, what works or what will deliver results.
So, exactly how do you avoid classic mistakes like these and hire a qualified, professional healthcare advertising agency? Here are three fundamental questions to put you on the right course. Ask yourself:
In the interest of full disclosure, we are a medical advertising agency. (And frankly, we're pretty good at what we do.) But the point of this article is that hiring a healthcare marketing firm is an important, executive level decision. No matter whom you work with, our guidance is to make a well-informed decision. It's an important one. Look for a partner that you can trust, and one that brings real world experience and medical advertising expertise to your team.
You'll find more on this topic on the Healthcare Success website, and at Stewart's Gandolf's Marketing Magic. His post is titled Insist On A Specialist - 7 Reasons to Choose a Medical Advertising Agency.