You check references for prospective employees, but how well do you conduct backgrounding before retaining an ad agency or marketing firm?
Be sure to check out Part I in our series on Choosing a Health and Medical Ad Agency.
Whether you’re a VP of Marketing at a health system, a med-tech firm or a healthcare industry association, you’ve probably done an RFP to find a new agency partner. You likely asked for a recap of their experience, profiles of their team and examples of their work. And, like nearly everyone in your position who has launched a search, you requested a list of references. It’s best practice. But just as important is what you do with the information once you get it.
Next time you undertake an agency review, keep in mind that one of the most insightful tools can be the questions you ask those all-important references. Here are some essentials:
1. At the beginning of the relationship, did the agency invest uncompensated time educating their team about your business? What, specifically, did they do to learn about your people, business goals and challenges/opportunities?
2. How involved has the agency’s senior leadership been in the work you’ve done together? Do you have direct interaction with them?
3. Did they work with you to establish clear, measurable goals? Do they provide monthly reports illustrating progress against those expectations?
4. No relationship is without occasional challenges. Can you describe a time when they did not meet expectations? What did they do to resolve it? Was the agency’s senior leadership involved in providing the solution?
5. How would they describe the client that’s an ideal fit for their firm?
6. What do you feel is their greatest strength in terms of the value they’ve delivered to you and your organization?
Getting the answers you need is essential, but recognizing the difference between a sales pitch and an authentic, thoughtful response comes down to the quality of your inquiry. Be sure you’ve reviewed any prospective firm’s website and social media assets to gain a detailed look at their clients, culture and voice. Assuming adequate budgets are available, the work they do for others is what you can most likely expect them to do for you.