The value of an agency partner

valuePOST SUMMARY: A good agency can make you look good, but more importantly a good agency can develop a DTC digital strategy that both supports brand objectives and meets patient needs/wants.  In an era where procurement can dictate which vendors you are allowed to do business with finding the right agency may be the most important challenge of any DTC marketer.

I have worked with some very good and creative agencies but I have noticed that they are becoming a rare breed.  The best experience I had was the development of a custom content management system which allowed me to input content and publish it without IT.  When we sat down to discuss the challenge of content management, we had three objectives:

(1) The CMS had to be scalable and have a user interface that was intuitive.

(2) There had to be checks and balances within the CMS so that no one person could publish unauthorized content.  Content also needed to have a flow process so as to be approved my M L R.

(3) The CMS had to conform to approved wire frames to ensure a professional looking site.

To start the process I scheduled a meeting with IT and our vendor to hash out the objectives and preliminary functional specifications.  It took all day and cost us $250,000 but the final product was so successful, we rolled it out to our OUS affiliates and to other brands.  The agency had done a fantastic job in working with us and the IT people saw them as a resource rather than a threat.

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This is just one example of the value that the RIGHT agency can bring to the table, but how do you find the right agency or separate the good ones from the average ones?

While those of you attending the ePharma conference are going to meet some agencies they are not necessarily the best or right ones to work within your culture.  I usually invite them in to give a presentation on what they have done in the past and how they have overcome barriers (budget discussions at an initial meeting are a warning sign).  I then talk to my key contacts one-on-one to gauge if we can both work together and if we are on the same page.  Finally, I invite them to meet our IT people along with key stakeholders to get feedback on both sides.

Yes, it’s a lot of work, but agencies that act like vendors and want more business for business sake are the ones that are going to deliver an average solution and today you just can’t afford that.