pharmaceuticals marketingThese days pharmaceutical brand teams are working with multiple agencies at any given time, including but not limited to PR, traditional and digital. Our role with clients ranges from digital agency of record (DAOR) to partnerships on a specific initiative. Below are some best practices for how clients and agencies can work together successfully.

  • Share goals/objectives instead of just an assignment or project. Many marketing managers believe that providing an agency partner with direction in the form of a solution is the most cost-effective approach. Approaching your account person with a solution is great because it means you’ve already been brainstorming, but if you also share the goal or objective, you empower them to provide you with ideas that you may not have considered. If you’re concerned about too much time/budget being spent on something, simply give it a priority rating and identify whether it’s a short term view or long term consideration. 
  • Avoid the temptation of putting the cart before the horse, or the tactic before the strategy. Exciting ideas are often born while strategy is at lunch or on vacation. Even if you are hell-bent on using video, integrating social media, or creating a hashtag (#thisisahashtag), make sure that the way you approach it marries up to your overall strategy and doesn’t compete with something else that you already have going. Everyone else will trust that you are doing this and it will only be questioned if it accomplishes nothing. Focus on it, share it with pan-agency teams, and let them know if it changes and why. Stick to it so you have something to fall back on as a gut check. A moving target is very hard to hit.
  • Assign roles and responsibilities among pan-agency partners. This helps avoid territorialism. A good agency partner has your best interest in mind. If an initiative is integrated or has multiple channels it’s best to position the cross agency teams as partners, and encourage or even formally set up collaboration. We will follow your lead.
  • Identify what is concrete and what is open for discussion as early as possible. Once a task is presented, whether it is incremental budget or existing scope, share what you’ve decided is definite and what is flexible. If you have a budget, let that be known. A good agency partner will identify how you can get the most bang for your buck and produce results.
  • Set the stage for an honest relationship. An authentic relationship allows for all to understand where you are in the process of each project (as applicable). An accountable partner can be trusted to let you know whether or not they need to be involved at that specific step. More often than not, if an agency partner questions your direction, it’s because they care about your business and your budget.
  • If you want the best big ideas, create friendly competition among agency partners with a clear challenge to be solved. Allocate budget to this if doesn’t already exist. Set the budget and see what you get. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
  • Transparency is only going to benefit each participant. That’s all on that.

What do you think?

Image courtesy of Paul Lewin on Flickr (CC BY).