Prairie Dog

Getting the most from your advertising agency

You’re a health care marketer, so you know the drill. You’re busy. Pulled in multiple directions. Asked to do the seemingly impossible … and then some … all in between a full day of meetings. What you need is more time. Time to think. Time to plan. Time to bounce around ideas.

Cue your agency.

In my experience, utilizing an agency is like having a string of starters at the ready. With an array of experience — from developing detailed strategy to executing routine tasks — an agency brings with it not only broad insights into the health care industry in general, but the knowledge gleaned from other organizations that have already implemented what you’re needing.

In short, they’ve likely been there, done that.

But in order for an agency to jump in when and where you need them, it is important they understand the playbook and can function as an extension of your team from the get-go. To foster this relationship, consider the following:

  • Dedicate time to onboard the agency, similarly to how you orient a new employee. This includes deep dives into organizational initiatives, priorities and budgets so the agency understands the big picture. Ongoing dialogue and an “always accessible” policy are also helpful.
  • Foster an open, honest relationship. A good agency relationship should be one of mutual understanding and respect — with a shared interest in outcomes. You should feel comfortable being candid, and in turn, the agency should feel comfortable pushing back. The quality of the work — and your relationship — will be better for it.
  • Decide upfront how the agency can provide the greatest impact for your organization overall. For instance, it may be in the organization’s best interest to utilize an agency to develop strategy recommendations based on their extensive knowledge of health care marketing. Or it may be that your internal team needs a new creative platform from which to work, and an agency can provide the refresh. Whatever the need, continually consider the skill sets and expertise of your in-house team and how their work can be complemented — and even elevated — by an agency.
  • Remember, our work often takes a village. You and your team will have depth of knowledge that can only come from inside an organization; an agency will have breadth of knowledge from serving multiple clients across the industry. In the end, both perspectives will be invaluable in accomplishing the organization’s objectives and helping you succeed in your role.

By Jennifer Hollingshead