Is Your Marketing Agency A Trusted Member Of Your Team…
With so much activity in the M&A market, it is important to determine who is on your bus – meaning, are the people you work with aligned with your vision and positively contributing to the overall development of your organization? Or are they off the bus, meaning that they somehow negatively impact your progress and impede growth.
Many smaller groups that I work with experience significant growing pains through the 5-25 affiliate range because smaller inefficiencies that could once be lived with become larger obstacles as the group continues to grow. This is a critical period for the organization because (a) how you set up your practice sets the template for the progression of your org chart and ensures you have the right people in the right place to ensure your vision is met, and (b) the people you have in place will begin to include outsourced services that need to understand your objectives for long-term growth.
Accurately and smartly determining what outsourced services you require is vital and will ensure that the companies you employ are able to embrace your vision and ensure scalability. Although the company may be very good at what they do, are well-intentioned, and have a good track record, at a certain point, you may find their services limiting, and as you evolve and grow, you need to continually ask whether they still suit your needs. Are they on your bus?
A perfect example is within your marketing plan. There are many critical points along the patient journey – the path a patient takes to consider, find, schedule, and stay long-term at your practice – and without an overall cohesive strategy, this path can become disjointed, full of gaps, and marred by inconsistency … or worse, suffer from a duplication of effort as different companies implement similar or redundant features.
Having multiple providers helping with different stages of this journey can be beneficial when your organization is small, but as you grow, consider how these multiple touchpoints are compounded by the number of affiliates, each with different providers, using different yet similar strategies.
Knowing this to be an area of concern, many growing groups will hire a Marketing Manager to coordinate the multitude of efforts by the different providers, which may relieve issues for a small period of time. As you continue to grow though, the Marketing Manager will face increased pressure to connect the dots between the different service-offerings at each company and the preference of each affiliate.
As an example, I recently started working with a small group in the Southwest. The Marketing Manager was tasked to source a new business intelligence (BI) platform and consolidate the KPI reporting at the executive level. She began by vetting five different companies, sitting through five different introductory meetings, participating in five presentations, and then considering five different proposals. Each company offered varying degrees of marketing automation tools which forced her to investigate the tools already in place at each affiliate and consider the ramifications of replacing them. If you are reading this, you probably have had a similar experience. Near the end of the process, I asked how she was progressing, and she admitted the process was exhausting and that she was more confused on how to proceed than when she started!
At the end of the day, you need to be able to scale your process for successful onboarding of new affiliates and you need to have scalable marketing strategies for the practices you manage, which means that eventually you will need to consolidate and find providers who have the ability to grow with you.
Here are 6 Key Questions To Answer When Consolidating & Choosing A Marketing Service:
1. How wide and varied are the product offerings within the marketing company?
Are they a one-size-fits-all proposition? Do they fall back on the same solution or offer different solutions depending on the circumstance? Do they offer online and offline strategies for growth? No company offers everything you may need, but do they check the boxes on a minimum of 80% of the services you require in order to consolidate?
2. Are they responsive?
Are you able to connect with someone directly, or do you have to process requests through a ticketing system? How quickly can you get hold of someone should an emergency arise? Do you have a team dedicated to your account that understands the specific needs and goals of what you are hoping to achieve? Are they proactively servicing your campaigns by offering suggestions on how to improve the results, or waiting for you to ask questions before engaging? Are they making your life easier, or do you feel like you are “doing all the work” and constantly following up?
3. Are they experienced in working with groups that are a similar size as you?
Can they outline a detailed onboarding process with set timelines and clear steps? Are they agile and able to adapt to your evolving needs? Are they able to adapt to different and unique scenarios that may arise? Do they take the time to truly understand the big picture – your unique big picture – or do you feel like they are trying to fit you into their pre-defined solutions?
4. Are they, as a marketing company, continuing to evolve?
Do they continue to stay ahead of, or on top of, ongoing trends within the industry? Can they speak skillfully and knowledgably to new technologies/marketing strategies and are they able to consult with you rather then talk at you? Are they able to recommend knowledge experts within or outside the company to help you to navigate possible strategies?
5. Do they communicate a clear and measurable return on investment?
Are they able to clearly communicate the return on investment in an accessible and consistent way? Do they work with you to report on the KPIs you and your executive team wants to see? Are you able to view results at a granular and an enterprise level? Do they work with you to improve results, and do they strategize with your team to optimize returns?
6. Do you trust them?
Besides results, do you truly feel that they have your best interest in mind? Are they showing you, in action and deed, that they want your organization to exceed its goals? Have they displayed the qualities you are looking for in a long-term member of your team?
These are just some of the many factors you will need to consider as you look to consolidate your marketing efforts. Finding an outside marketing agency to be an extended member of your team may take a few tries before you finally land the right one, but once you do, you should feel confident that they are in lockstep with your overall vision – that they’re on the bus – and that they are working hard to help you exceed your goals.
Instead of constantly working with multiple vendors in trying to align efforts, your Marketing Manager can now move on to “trust-but-measure mode,” ensuring the results are their primary focus.
If you are in this position – consolidating and choosing a leading-edge, responsive, experienced marketing service – please reach out to me. I would be happy to consult with you and your Marketing Manager to see if we might be the great fit you need.