47 healthcare marketers share the secrets to building great agency partnerships.

In our survey of healthcare marketers, “Lack of Partnership” with their agencies was their #1 pain point. You probably know agency challenges all too well…

  • “They feel like order takers.”
  • “They’re not proactive.”
  • “They worry more about the budget instead of client success.”
  • “They don’t know my brand or my business well enough.”

Fortunately, in addition to putting a spotlight on the issues, survey respondents also offered insights about how marketers and agencies can create partnerships that deliver real results.

What did they have to say? Keep reading!

Keys To Success For Amazing Client/Agency Partnerships

Share information.

Not just some information. You should be sharing as much information as you’re allowed to share. Think of the agency as an extension of your department and be as transparent as possible.

  • Company- and brand-level objectives – An obvious one, but critical to success.
  • Internal dynamics – How does your team work best? What are personal likes/dislikes?
  • Your goals and objectives as a marketer – The more the agency knows what you’re trying to accomplish, the more they can help you reach your goals.

In return, the agency should offer full transparency about the status of your projects, finances, scope creep, and any challenges that may occur throughout the course of a project.

Set clear expectations.

This is great advice in general, but the respondents were speaking pointedly about tactic development. It’s important to share your thoughts about the impact you expect the tactic to have and the level of effort you think the agency should be investing. The agency needs to have clear insight into the relative importance of the tactic so they can invest their time and your budget, accordingly.

Everyone’s perspective should be reflected in the project brief. If it’s not, revise until it is!

Also, when it’s time to review agency work, manage your own expectations. Some tactics are basic blocking and tackling. Some are much more complex. Perspective is the key.

Invest time and energy.

Let’s be honest, every successful partnership requires care and attention. The more you put in, the more you get out, so make sure you’re doing your part. This includes things like reviewing agency deliverables and providing feedback on time, attending scheduled meetings, and answering questions to keep projects moving. In addition, take time to get to know members of the agency team, just as you would a colleague in your company. This helps create a partnership based on mutual understanding and respect.

Welcome new thinking.

A true partner should have the chance to share ideas, push back when and where it’s needed, and challenge the status quo. Immediately shutting down the agency’s ideas or suggestions if the quickest way to turn your agency partners into order-takers.

Think about how you provide direction to the agency. At the beginning of a project, share your objective and general ideas, including some examples if you have them. Tell the agency that you want to see what they can do with the basic concept and make sure they understand that your ideas are only starting points. Let the agency go do their creative work and provide feedback as necessary.

Asking your agency to share what they’ve seen and what’s worked in other placed is another great way to share ideas. This will help you benefit from the collective experience of the group.

Lead by example.

If you want to get the most out of your agency, treat them with respect. This is especially important when you give feedback on the work being done. Sometimes emailing comments isn’t enough, so make time to talk about the changes you’re requesting. And don’t just tell the agency what to change, let them know why you’re making the change. Your feedback helps the agency better understand your preferences and if the agency is smart, they’ll follow those preferences in future projects.

When you set a positive tone, the partnership will thrive.

Final Advice From Our Survey Respondents.

If you’re consistently doing the things outlined above, and you still aren’t getting the agency partnership you’re looking for, it’s time to start looking for another agency. Every respondent made it clear that sometimes changing agencies is the only way to change things.

If you are considering a change, contact DEFY. Discover how we’re reinventing the healthcare marketing agency model for the better.

DEFY. All of the agency. None of the aggravation.

Contact DEFY and discover how we’re reinventing the healthcare marketing agency model for the better. Call 1-800-LETS DEFY or message us at

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