There are a lot of very good small agencies out there many of them with talented ex-pharma people with a lot of great experience. However they are having problems breaking down doors to get approved statement-of-work signatures. At the heart of any good agency is its marketing. Before you can help others with marketing you need to be able to demonstrate your marketing beyond cold calls and phone calls.
I personally like working with small agencies because I have found them to be more responsive with a lower overhead (lower cost to me). The biggest challenge has been ensuring they meet procurements requirements, which can be over the wall tough, and convincing managers that they can perform to a high level.
Today, with budget dollars declining and the high turn over within pharma there are still some ways to make your agency stand out.
(1) Who are you ? What is your agency brand identity and how are you going to cut through all the chatter to reach decision makers ? The lines here are quickly blurring.
(2) Can you make me look good ? Your work should make the person you work for look good. Get them to look good and the equity from that will flow down hill.
(3) Follow through on your promises. I know one person who was looking for a new agency and sent away for a hardcover book on pharma e-marketing from an agency but she never received it. The bottom line was that she moved forward with other agencies.
(4) You’re not on social media ? Help pharma marketers stay on top of pharma marketing trends by helping them get to good relevant information. Sure white papers or newsletters are good but who has time to read them ? The best way is to leverage social media consistently throughout time.
(5) Stop pitching what you’re going to do and talk about what you have done. Nothing is worse than having an agency come in with a bunch of recommendations when they don’t understand anything about your target market.
(6) Connect with procurement on the first visit. Yes I know this could be intrusive but a little courtesy, to let procurement know you are actively seeking new work, can open doors.
(7) Leave the conferences alone. Pharma marketing conferences should be about presenting case studies and generating ideas. This is the best way to generate new leads not hanging out in a booth with dozens of other potential vendors.
(8) Develop an agency marketing plan and stick with it. Which companies represent low hanging fruit and which ones have agencies too entrenched to move ?
In the end it’s about making your agency stand out and convincing someone that you can deliver on your promise of great work. That will never change.