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How Outside Marketing Help Saves Time, Money and Sleepless Nights

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Chris Nelson and Dennis Jolley[Podcast Interview] It’s a widely held—but decidedly incorrect—attitude that a hospital or provider “marketing person” is a “Jack-of-all-trades,” capable of anything and everything that drops on their desk.

But veteran healthcare marketing executives know from experience that the “universal man or woman” perception is often fueled by limited resources and burgeoning tasks. The real world solution is to effectively manage outside creative services. And that, surprisingly, can save time, money and sleepless nights…and drive results.

In this podcast interview, Chris Nelson and Dennis Jolley of University of Utah Health Care share the reasons they think it makes a lot of sense, financial and otherwise, to use outside marketing talent.

From the client’s perspective, outside resources can include agencies, freelance and short-term creative help. It’s counterintuitive to some decision makers that calling on agency help can actually save money.

In their conversation with Stewart Gandolf, veteran communications executives Nelson and Jolley discuss why modern healthcare marketing is too complex and demanding to rely on any one person to do too many things.

Specialized skills and experience are often needed to effectively cope with the range of communications demands in a medical office or health system, including public affairs, marketing, public relations, advertising, Internet and other skill sets.

Even with a team of great people around you, calling upon outside resources can flex your staff, bring new ideas to the table and be more efficient in reaching your goals. They share six specific principles for hospitals and doctors to follow in managing the process for success:

1. Demonstrate need: Be clear about your goals, and in particular, identify those specialized skills that are required beyond internal talents.

2. Embrace your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses: Most individuals have a solid core competency—writing or design, for example—and they know where they are weak. Clearly identify both areas, and draw on the specialized skills—Search Engine Optimization, for example—that add missing talent.

3. Remember, you are in charge: As the client, you have the final decision and responsibility. Experienced agencies bring talent, but don’t fail to push back if necessary. Neither the agency nor the client is “always right,” and a healthy give-and-take usually leads to better results.

4. Set boundaries: Be precise about the assignment (who will be doing what), and manage the agency internally (who they report to and take direction from). Clarity about boundaries keeps the work focused and the budget intact.

5. Measure results and sell your success: Nobody wants to be a braggart, but it can be useful to be clear (i.e., to sell) about how or to what degree specific goals were achieved. Not everyone sees the measure of return on investment until or unless you present what’s been accomplished in specific business terms.

6. Find the right partner: Hiring the right outside resource requires knowing exactly what’s critical to achieving the goal. It might be a large agency, a freelance individual or a specialized marketing service company. When possible, evaluate talent on the basis of a test project. What’s more, in this Internet age, they don’t always have to be “local.”

And, as a final note, if you never call a service provider because you assume they are too expensive, you’ll never know or have a sense of market costs. On the other hand, there have been times when the University of Utah presenters were pleasantly surprised about the reasonable and affordable fees for service. Ultimately, it allowed them to get the job done and to extend their budget in the process.

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