Checklist for evaluation of marketing companies
These are the most important questions that you need to ask when talking to marketing companies about a promotional campaign for your practice:
# Are they really specialists in medical marketing?
Anybody attempting to sell to doctors is going to claim to be a specialist. But are they really? Or have they just seen a potentially profitable new area to exploit? Look carefully at the portfolio on their website. If there are lots of non-medical sites and large companies, treat their claims with some suspicion.
# Is what they offer what you need or want?
Many marketing organisations have fairly fixed ideas about how to promote a product or service, and are used to working with companies. Unless they are experienced in promoting individuals, are they likely to understand what the best options are for you?
# Do they understand the medical world?
Unless they have a genuine grasp of how business is done in the private medical sector, they will be unable to tap into the most productive sources of referrals. Understanding referral patterns is the key to promoting your practice successfully.
# Are they too corporate in their approach?
Medicine is an intensely personal matter, and potential patients or referrers will be put off by managementspeak. Take a look at their own website. If you think it is too corporate sounding, trust your judgement – it is!
# Do they have real expertise in all the media you may want to use?
Some companies offering marketing services to doctors are website design groups expanding their activities. Others may be service marketers without any depth of knowledge of how to make a website work for you. Make sure that they really can offer you a broad approach, using whatever your campaign needs to be most effective.
# Do they offer a realistic estimate of what you will get out of your campaign?
Do not believe anything unbelievable. Short term returns on marketing campaigns are likely to be modest, although they are of course the basis on which you build sustained growth. Demand honest and realistic answers.
# Who will write the content?
It is vital that what you present in your marketing materials is right for the readers and for the individual medium in which it appears. There are not many people around who know how to get the right level of communication, particularly for potential patients and even more to communicate complex medical information in an understandable way.
# Who will monitor the effectiveness of your campaign?
There should be a definite and specific agreement from the beginning that both you and they will collect relevant information and meet at pre-defined intervals to evaluate the performance of different components of the campaign.
# Do they claim that they will “get you to the top of Google”?
Do not be fooled by claims like this. Anyone can get you to the top of Google in a short period of time for some keywords. It is very straightforward. You can be top of Google for a bunch of keywords that get 3 searches a month in no time. What you want is good placement for relevant keywords that people who you want to attract actually use to search for what you provide.
# What is their general approach?
A good marketing company will want to build a long-term relationship with you right from the beginning. They should help you assess your business as a whole, and the best of them will take an even longer look with you at how you want to structure your career over 5 or even 10 years. That way, you can plan how to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
# Do they offer an individually designed website?
In actual fact, most websites will be individually produced from a proven template design to reflect who you are and what you do. Most consultants do not need a more sophisticated design than this to start with. As always, don’t be seduced into paying for things you don’t need. Of course your site needs to look good, but equally important is how easily your visitors can find what they want in it. Can your designer promise that?
# How much is all this going to cost?
Make sure that you get a full breakdown of exactly what they intend to charge for all the different services, and watch out for extras that are all too easy to slip in to what may become an appreciable budget almost without you noticing. Ask very specific questions and expect very specific answers.
# Are they people that you will enjoy working with?
This is a very important part of your professional life, and you may have them around for some time. Be confident that you will get individual, respectful treatment as a valued client and that you will look forward to each meeting. Building your practice is a serious undertaking, but it is exciting and if you work with the right people, it can also be great fun.