Three Tips For Working With Partner Agencies In The Healthcare Space
CEO and Founder of Sosemo, an award-winning digital marketing agency that specializes in search marketing and paid social media marketing.
HINTERHAUS PRODUCTIONS 2016
Unless your agency is full-service, it is very likely that your client will bring on other shops offering different specialties, and you may be expected to collaborate with them. This is especially true in the healthcare vertical, where the various services that agencies provide often require highly specific skill sets and know-how for navigating legal and regulatory requirements.
My agency has collaborated with multiple partner agencies in the healthcare space, several of them on many different lines of business. Working as the stand-alone agency to develop, launch and manage a marketing campaign for a treatment or other healthcare product with ambitious performance goals is hard enough, but a host of other challenges arise when your team must coordinate with other agencies to accomplish your client’s objectives.
If you are currently on an agency team working with partner shops on a health-related account, are expecting to do so or are just curious about this vibrant corner of the advertising world, then here are three tips to help set your agency team and your partners up for success.
1. Communicate In Lockstep
As you probably already know, this tip isn’t specific to agency partnerships in healthcare, but I’m still listing it first because of its enormous importance for maintaining strong partnerships that facilitate high-quality work. In practice, this can take the form of periodic weekly or biweekly project status meetings with an agenda sheet that all partners can edit. At the end of each meeting, someone from a predesignated team sends a recap of the discussion complete with questions raised, timelines for next steps and potential blockers. This way all parties involved stay aligned and accountable to a common narrative.
During particularly busy or critical times such as a launch or next year’s planning, it’s a good idea to increase the frequency of status meetings. On the other hand, if work is slow or if partners have a conflict with the regular meeting time, then it’s perfectly fine to skip a meeting if all key items are addressed via email. However, it’s best to not let too many regular meetings slide even during quiet periods, as this can increase the chance of longer-term or lower-priority goals slipping through the cracks.
2. Collaborate On Compelling And Compliant Creative
If you’re working with agency partners for a common client, chances are that you and your partners will be situated at different stages of the creative development process. For example, one partner may be responsible for developing banners or videos, while another is responsible for launching and managing the ad buys where the banners are used. In a scenario like this, it is in the best interest of the ad buyers to relay to the creative team the various formatting and messaging restrictions that are specific to healthcare campaigns. The ad buyers should also share any insights on the target audience so that the creative team can incorporate them.
Additionally, all partners should be open to refreshing the creative every few months to avoid ad fatigue and keep it relevant with changing audience preferences. This requires periodic creative development from the creative partners and re-implementation and testing from the media partners.
3. Understand The Regulatory Review Process
As most healthcare marketers would likely agree, what sets us apart the most from other industries is the extensive regulatory review process that our work is subject to. It’s often the case that work must make it through several rounds of revisions before being approved to go to market, which can extend the process to several weeks or even months. Therefore, each agency partner should become as well-versed as possible with the regulatory restrictions and requirements that are common to most healthcare brands, as well as the ones that are unique to their accounts. This can help reduce the long review timelines that can hinder your partners with dependencies on these approvals.
Each partner should also gauge the marketing literacy of the medical-legal reviewers with which they’re working and then provide the appropriate level of stewardship. This can take the form of including formatting requirements, realistic mockups and examples of approved past creative within their review submissions.
Lastly, and as an extension of my first tip, agency partners should be fully transparent with one another about how much medical-legal review they expect their work to be subject to and should communicate any changes to these timelines to affected partners as promptly as possible.
Whether you are looking to strengthen your relationships with your current healthcare agency partners or would like to start off on the right foot with new ones, these three tips can help both you and your partners drive greater success for your clients.