I have heard a lot of BS in my time but expecting an agency to teach DTC marketers about marketing is something that I believe is pure mule muffins ! If you have to teach someone how to do their job than that person is in the wrong job and, more importantly, while they are learning consumers and patients are moving on. By the time they learn the fundamentals what they just learned will be outdated. Agencies are not supposed to teach people they are there to provide value by implementing and adding value to brand objectives.
I was at a local biopharma company meeting with a potential client when I asked them what was important to them, I mean really important. The Director then proceeded to show me a presentation on social media marketing 101 that a potential vendor gave to his team and procurement. ”I don’t need an education on social media marketing. Tell me what we need to do to meet business objectives and I’ll let you know if I need to educate anyone about why we are doing it”. The presentation was nice but it was online marketing 101.
How can agencies add value to clients today ? First they need to become strategic partners. This means that they have access to as much information as you have on your brand and its target audience. In addition the agency should help marketers cut through the hype of bullshit around online marketing and tell clients what will be successful for THEIR brand based on what they know about THEIR target audience behaviors.
When I worked for Lilly and Medtronic I never had an agency come into “educate” people. Frankly that was my job and that is why I spent so much reading everything I could get my hands on.
Two agencies that add value really well are Siren Interactive and Greater Than One. They issue publications on new trends on online marketing and what that means to biopharma marketers. This way marketers can learn what is important without asking a vendor to “teach us”.
There is a list of things that consultants and/or agencies can’t teach organizations. These are things that an organization will have to want to do for themselves in order to be successful in engaging in conversations and building mutually satisfying relationships with customers, prospects and other constituents.
A consultant or agency can’t teach you to:
- Have a social media mindset
- Desire to be truly authentic
- Have a personality
- Be personable
- Really care
- Commit to transparent communications
- Embrace the value of having a measurable plan
- Want to implement internal systems to track all of your social activities
- Desire real relationships and conversations
- Want to be social in ways that matter
- Value opinions other than your own
- Comprehend that it’s not always about the influencers
- Be genuine on- and off-line
- Trust your employees, channel partners or customers
- Share your knowledge for free and expect nothing in return
- Have social foresight
- Not want instant gratification
- Get the benefits of being an “unmarketer“
- Want to remove internal politics
Marketing is changing too rapidly for agencies to “teach” people who have a host of other challenges to doing their jobs. Just because you teach someone to fish does not mean they are going to become a good fisherman (excuse me: fisherperson, have to be politically correct).
For me give me an agency that spend less time teaching and more time saying “we need to do this to help drive brand objectives”.