The role of agencies in DTC marketing

partnetshipPOST SUMMARY: DTC marketers are going to have to rely more on more on agencies to help them develop breakthrough DTC marketing campaigns.  However, they need to stop treating agencies like vendors and make them a part of their strategic marketing team.

The continued exodus of talented DTC marketers from the industry along with entrenched politically connected mediocre DTC talent is going to lead to more and more biopharma companies reaching out to agencies  to help them develop and implement DTC marketing.  Here are some of the things that I have learned lead to successful partnerships..


1ne: Make sure their is a good connection between key members of your brand team and agency people that extends beyond occasional meetings.  Can you “bounce ideas off the?”, “do they challenge you and push back when necessary?”

2wo: Set up an intranet to share information between you and all your agencies.  When I was on the Cialis team I set up an intranet allowing our PR, sports, Advertising, media and digital agencies to share information.  This was key to leverage all of our marketing and research.

3hree: Rely on your digital agency to help separate fact from hype when it comes to marketing on the Web. Is marketing on Instagram really going to help patients and meet brand KPI’s or is your money better spent somewhere else?

4our: Schedule quarterly agency integration meetings.  Review what competitors are doing and explore opportunities posed by the new healthcare environment.

5ive: Don’t let agencies squeeze you.  If you generate an invoice for every little thing your agency does they are more interested in covering their overhead.

6ix: Have key agency people available in instant messaging to answer quick questions or ask ‘what if….”.

7even: Set expectations up front. How will your relationship be measured and who will set the key expectations? I know one agency who walked away from a leading biotech company here in Cambridge because the people there often would not return phone calls but expected them to be available 12 hours a day.


8ight: Have a semi-annual agency status meeting. Discuss what you like and what you don’t like. How can you improve on the relationship. This is also a good time to brief them on the challenges you face within your organization.