Health IT Marketing: Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Marketing Firm
Sam Stern

Sam is the Founder and Chief Marketing Technologist at Modallic. Modallic specializes in brand development and marketing for Mobile Healthcare Technology (mHealth) firms. As a life-long entrepreneur, Sam directs the mHealth storytelling and mHealth agile marketing process unique to the Modallic approach.

The pressure to produce sales is on. You have big goals for your health IT business. You want to have the ability to grow, add services, add staff, attract additional funding.

Increased sales is the ONLY answer to making this all happen.

And marketing sets up your sales.

Should you hire a marketing agency to help square away your marketing?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Perhaps this isn’t the clear cut answer you’re after, but it’s accurate. It depends. Every health IT business has its own unique challenges and capabilities. 

However, lots of health IT firms, especially those caught up in the frenzy of a start up first or second round funding phase, simply lack the time, resources or knowledge to navigate the complexities of building and executing an effective marketing program.

Hiring a digital marketing agency can be a solid option for growing your health IT business. The marketing agency can help you clarify your overall marketing strategy. In addition, a marketing agency provides a brand and positioning focus, and can also help in developing marketing messaging and even be involved in content execution.

But how do you choose the right marketing agency team for your business?

Communication is key when working with a marketing agency. Effective communication is a two-way street.  There must be a strong sense that both sides, you and the marketing agency, are invested in listening and open dialogue.

1. Does the marketing agency understand my needs? Like a physician, a professional marketing agency will ask you lots of questions, perhaps even run a series of tests, to fully understand where you want to go and the challenges you face marketing your business. Be wary of a marketing agency that prescribes before diagnosis.

2. Are you willing to listen, open to new ideas, and willing to try new approaches? Conversely, on your side, after the marketing agency examines your business, are you open to recommendations? No, it doesn’t mean you implement everything, but if you shoot down the essence of what the marketing agency recommends, you’re wasting your time and money.

3. Do your communication styles mesh? Do you prefer to carve out a plan up-front and then trust the agency to execute with periodic email and phone updates? Or, do you want the agency to be available for frequent calls and email responses whenever issues surface? Do you expect instant answers, or can you wait for a response?

Make sure these communication expectations are a fit before entering the relationship. Keep in mind, the more and faster response you expect, the larger your bill will be.

4. Does “sense of urgency” and meeting deadlines match up? The marketing agency will need a lot of informational collateral to create and run a successful marketing campaign.

Your marketing agency is depending on you to answer questions, provide insights, review material as it’s developed and give approvals in a timely fashion to hit crucial implementation deadlines.

Maintaining an awareness of the project timeline is an important element to successful marketing.

Likewise, you should expect the marketing agency to hit the targets you mutually establish. Keep in mind, things happen and deadlines are missed. However, a heads-up on what’s happening… or not happening… should be expected.

5. Who creates the ideas and strategy?  Be clear about what you expect your marketing agency to do. Do you want them to generate creative ideas and develop the execution strategy for you, or do you want them to implement ideas you already have?

Over time, in working with the marketing agency, the answer to this question can vary.  As the relationship develops with a marketing agency, some of the creative concepts and strategies are firm-generated while others come from the clients.  The best ideas are often collaborations.

Two of your biggest assets in your health IT business are your personality and expertise. The clearer your thinking about how you’re going to integrate these qualities into your brand messaging, the stronger your marketing will be.

Some entrepreneurs prefer to be very behind the scenes. They want to let the “corporate” image and messaging represent the business. Other business owners want their clients to be able to put a face with the business name. When it comes to expertise, some business owners believe that sharing almost everything they know results in empowered, educated buyers, while other business owners are more close-lipped.

These five questions revolve around communications dynamics and how ideas and strategies are formulated. Spend time on the marketing agency’s website. Do any of these areas “connect”? Invest in a phone conversation or even a face-to-face meeting to gauge the fit in these five areas.

Perhaps we’re a fit?

Let’s invest in a phone conversation and see if our business thinking, communication styles, and expectations mesh?

Schedule a Digital Health Marketing Consultation.




photo credit: Knight Center of Digital Excellence via photopin cc

Why Marketing Health IT Is So Damn Hard
Earned Media: Public Relations Strategies for Health IT

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