October 12, 2016

5 Secrets to Never Keep From Your Agency

Working with an ad agency has its benefits: new insights, ideas, best practices.

In our 30 years of collaborating with healthcare marketing leaders, Franklin Streeters have learned what makes these partnerships succeed.

We also know what makes partnerships fail.

And failure often comes down to keeping secrets.

For example, agencies should avoid keeping secrets like they don’t have experience marketing your particular service line.

Clients have their own secrets, which they should avoid keeping from their agencies.

Some of these may seem like Big Fat Duhs to you. But you’d be surprised at how often we run in to these.

Secret: We don’t know where we want to go.

Ever been super hungry and don’t know where to eat? You had pizza two days ago, your favorite Mexican restaurant is closed, and the burger place you love is too far.

You know you’re starving, but WHERE are you going to eat?

We run into the same situation with clients.

They want to make bold changes. Shake up the market. Get prospective patients to prefer their brand over all others.

But they don’t know where they want to go.

Grow service line volume?

Be the regional provider of choice?

Or in the case of our foundation clients, be the “Charity of Choice.”

In our experience, knowing where you want to go begins with clarifying the organization’s vision.

And here’s where the big secret resides: stakeholders aren’t clear on the vision.

It might feel embarrassing to admit that smart, hard-working stakeholders are not on the same page with the health system’s vision.

But trust us: you’re not alone.

So spill the beans. Tell your agency you want to go somewhere new—but don’t know where.

And then allow the agency to help get you there.

Secret: I’m not really the final decision-maker.

Who’s in charge? Is there a great and powerful Oz behind a super secret curtain? If so, please tell your agency.

We know our day-to-day contact isn’t always the final decision-maker.

Sometimes clients feel it’s a sign of weakness if they don’t have the final say.

But telling the agency who does have the final say—or what the path to getting approval really looks like—makes for a smoother process.

Why? A smart agency will help a client with the necessary consensus-building tools to make green lights happen efficiently.

Secret: I’m afraid to take a risk.

Developing new strategies, branding, and messaging is exciting work. And done right, the benefits are huge.

But this work comes with some heavy lifting. And at times, can feel overwhelming and scary.

An agency worth their weight will push you to consider concepts you may think impossible. Why? Because doing work that has impact often requires stepping out of your comfort zone.

If you ask for change, let us help you. Take a walk on the wild side. As Jon Levy says, the bigness of your life is predetermined by the amount of discomfort you’re willing to experience.

Secret: You don’t like to follow process and want everything done yesterday.

Most agencies follow a process to achieve desired results. While approaches differ among agencies, we follow our steps for one reason…it works.

At Franklin Street, we’ve been at this game for 30 years. We know when to pull which levers to achieve the results our clients need.

Sometimes we have to move at the speed of light to take advantage of an opportunity.

But if we sacrifice strategy for speed, our clients don’t get the best work, the best value or the best possible results.

There are plenty of places in life to cut corners—like store bought cakes.

But please don’t skip the process when it comes to your strategy.

Secret: Your service lines have serious problems.

It’s easy for a healthcare marketer to feel like they’re responsible for everything.

You’re asked to grow market share and order enough balloons for volunteer recognition events.

But health care marketers are uniquely challenged when they’re asked to grow service line volume when said service line has operational challenges.

(Common challenges we run into are: low patient satisfaction, inconvenient hours and difficulty scheduling appointments.)

Sometimes you must market a service line that’s not quite optimum, but don’t hide the warts from your agency. Help them help you by sharing the good, the bad and the ugly about your service lines.

If your agency is a true partner and innovator, they’ll help you overcome these challenges.

Final Thoughts

At Franklin Street, we love our clients. Because of them, we’re celebrating our 30th Anniversary this year.

We work hard to show our clients they can share their secrets with us. It’s the only way we can help them and their brands.

I hope you have a similar relationship with your agency. And a key to building relationships is through trust. And trust often comes by sharing secrets.