DTC marketers need to challenge their agencies

KEY TAKEAWAY: More than half of consumer brands are going to put their agencies on notice and request a “review”.  The blame is spread between big ad agencies and pharma brand managers who refuse to hold their agencies accountable for wasted dollars.

Did you ever wonder why so many drug ads are repeated on TV?  The answer is simple. Their agency people and the brand manager are clueless and don’t understand marketing terms like “effective frequency” and “effective reach”.  Of course, there are brand managers who love to pat themselves on the back for airing the spot, but any agency worth the money they are getting should be screaming that the client is wasting money.

Members of our consulting group have sat in a LOT of agency presentations and usually afterwards we share notes about how bad these presentations really were.  They talk primarily about TV and how the ads are wrong or have bad execution, but when it comes to digital their recommendations are weak, at best.

So how should DTC marketers be challenging their agencies?

1ne: Go beyond metrics like reach/frequency and use metrics that really matter like sales or people requesting an Rx.

2wo: If their digital marketing is weak than for God’s sake hire a great digital agency like In Touch Solutions. Digital agencies “get it” and can really improve metrics where it matters. If your ad agency fights the idea if a digital agency coming on-board than that should be  concerning to you.

3hree: If they consistently recommend more TV than that is a warning sign.

4our: They keep selling themselves to you and when you have meetings they wine and dine you.  Stroking your ego does not help your brand.

5ive: At least twice a year have a team account review.  This should not be a friendly “look at what we did meeting”, it should be “what did we learn and how can we get better at what we do”.

6ix: Digital falls short with bad metrics and nothing new.

Your goal, by the way, is not to create award winning ads .  It’s to drive the key brand objectives. Too many agencies are interested in winning awards at pharma conferences which makes them look good, but often leaves brand managers with a lot of invoices and trying to explain why their DTC marketing isn’t working.

Pharma has to step it up and that means challenging agencies regardless of the past relationship.

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