Part of a medical marketer’s job is to work with a marketing agency, and sometimes several of them at once. This is a business-to-business relationship that needs to be well managed on a daily basis and evaluated from time to time. The agency’s job is to help you strengthen your brand by leveraging their strategic and creative expertise. Some agencies provide various services to their clients, whereas others are more specialized. Their specialties range from advertising, public relations, continuing medical education, online activities, direct-to-consumer promotions and to many other types of promotional specialties. There is usually a point-of-contact person called an account manager that is assigned to your brand, and this person is there to help you communicate your needs to the rest of the agency team working on your brand.
Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your agency, therefore making you and your brand look good :
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Do so multiple times and in various ways (telephone, follow-up with an e-mail). We cannot stress this enough.
- Ask questions about the agency’s work procedures before hiring them
- Know your brand and your strategy inside-out. You should be the one giving this information to the agency, not the other way around.
- Provide a written project brief with detailed information on your expectations and objectives for the project that the agency will be working on. Discuss the brief in details with the agency.
- Communicate with the agency on a regular basis. Yes, we already covered this, but this point is worth mentioning more than once.
- Read, understand and make corrections as required to contact reports, creative briefs and billing reports that are sent to you by the agency. Distribute these reports to anybody who has a role to play in the projects that you are working on.
- Hold regular evaluation sessions with the agency. Agencies that work on your brand on a regular basis should be evaluated twice a year. If this is not possible, then at least once a year.
- Try to be reasonable in terms of your expectations on output quality, timelines and cost. Balance your expectations and the realities of the agency as best as you can. For example, if you are willing to increase the budget, the agency may be able to produce a higher quality tool. Or they may be able to hire more staff to work on the project and thus complete the project more quickly. Another consideration is that if you ask for a very fast turnaround, you might be disappointed with the outcome if the agency has not had enough time to digest your needs and create a product that is both strategic and innovative. Talk with your agency to see how they might be able to squeeze either the budget or the timelines yet still produce a high quality product.
- This brings us to the next point; Stick to the timelines that YOU have agreed to. If you are in a hurry to produce a piece, do not hold up the agency by taking too much time to proofread or comment on draft versions of the tool. If this does happen (and this happens to all marketers from time to time), then take a fresh look at the timelines that you have given to the agency. They may need an extra day or so to catch up on the lost time.
- And finally with regards to tight timelines, try as best as possible to plan ahead. For example, considering the regulatory body approvals of pharmaceutical materials, a Product Manager in Canada should start working with their agency on a new tool at least 6-8 months before the piece is due in the reps’ hands.
If you have more tips to add to this list, please do so in the comments section. We can all learn from one another.
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