The answers were eye-opening.

The results are in!

We asked healthcare marketers to share frustrations they experience with their agency partners and they shared a lot. We learned first-hand what agencies are doing well… and not so well.

Here Are The Top 8 Issues As Ranked By The Number Of Mentions

(Our survey was conducted as open field questions.)

#1: Lack of partnership

If you feel like your agency is just an order-taker, you’re in good company. Lack of true partnership was the #1 pain point in our survey. Healthcare marketers want their agencies to anticipate needs and share ideas and suggestions. Instead, they feel like their agencies are just another vendor waiting for a request and worrying more about the budget than the client’s business needs. Across the board we heard that agencies don’t seem curious about the brand/business, they’re not motivated to learn, and they rarely push back even when push back is needed. Overall, marketers felt there was a lack of trust in the relationship.

#2: Inadequate strategic thinking

Healthcare marketers want their agencies to be just as strategic as they are creative and more often than not, agencies are falling short. Sure, agency people can recite a strategy that was handed to them by the client, but sadly, that’s where the thinking seems to end. Marketers pointed to the fact that agencies present creative work that often isn’t aligned with brand strategy. Agencies also tend to push meaningless metrics – like awareness and clicks – that don’t actually yield impact. Instead of embracing strategic thinking in everything they do, agencies are taking the easy way out.

#3: Inconsistent agency team

“Inconsistent” is a polite way of describing some of the frustrations healthcare marketers face with their agency teams. A huge pain point is the classic “bait and switch.” The agency sends top people to the pitch, the client is wowed by the team’s talent, they award the agency the business, then they discover their account has been handed off to second stringers for day-to-day service. Marketers need to have the right people on their team, people with experience and knowledge, and that’s not what they’re getting. Turnover is another concern. When the agency loses key people, the client often has to reset everything. Including expectations.

#4: Insufficient knowledge

Another common concern shared by healthcare marketers is a general lack of knowledge among the agency team. The agency doesn’t know the business or the competitors, they don’t understand the brand, and they struggle with the science. The knowledge gap included not understanding what is needed for deliverables and, believe it or not, actually not knowing the medical/legal review process.

#5: Flawed execution

When it comes to delivering excellence, agencies seem to be coming up short. Healthcare marketers pointed to inflexible agency processes, poor project management, and a lack of on-time delivery. The quality of agency work is also a major concern. Survey respondents said there is inconsistent quality control, inaccurate MLR/PRC submissions, and an inability to accurately pull through feedback from MLR/PRC in future work.

#6: Lack of transparency

Respondents feel they often lack clarity on costs and true timelines, and that simple day-to-day communication is lacking. Performance tracking is also spotty. These deficiencies sometimes lead to scope creep and associated cost overages.

#7: Poor value

Few things are as frustrating as not getting what you paid for. Unfortunately, our survey revealed that too often, that’s been the experience of healthcare marketers. Survey respondents specifically pointed to the people on the agency team. Paying a “blended rate” for junior people who don’t have the right experience to truly contribute to client success feels unfair. Clients were
even more frustrated with paying for layers of people who touch their business – and bill time – without adding real value.

#8: Slow execution

Turnaround times are a major pain point. Healthcare marketers pointed to the lengthy duration of projects and their agency’s inability to ensure a fast turnaround to match market needs. This was a particular pain point for marketers working with big agencies. As one respondent put it, “They have so many processes, it takes forever to get anything done.”

We Feel Your Pain.

At DEFY, our people have been on the agency-side – and the client-side – of the table. We know the challenges you’re facing and we’re taking steps to make working with agencies a pain-free experience.

Check back for upcoming blog articles that will cover each pain point from our survey. We’ll be sharing insights and ideas from the marketers we surveyed about how they’re working with their agencies for the better.

Of course, if your current agency is delivering more frustration than success, we would love to talk about how partnering with DEFY can work for you.

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