Healthcare Agency Models

What a perfect time for re-entry!

One-stop shopping. The Whole Enchilada. Or here’s one that’s for real:  Y&R’s The Whole Egg, intro’d in the 1970s. That’s when agencies went from exclusively creating advertising to aggressively marketing ancillary stuff like PR, design services and research.

How quaint those very early days look in retrospect. Jay Wilson in a recent blog post talks about the bingeing that took place the latter part of the 20th century where, he says, “Agencies with similar strengths and capabilities but vastly different cultures and processes were forcibly joined, whisked into complex, over-salted omelets, sharing little in common beyond a ticker symbol.” He goes on to point out, “Marketers bought into these models, consolidating agency rosters and driving prices down.”

Everyone knows we live in a vastly different place. (Toward the good, finally and thankfully.) Clients are pushing for fast change because they’re newly inspired by their own data that sets up or creates deeper, more intimate relationships with their customers. Clients usually are seeking points of view about positioning, whether corporate focused or about branding, and they’re willing to go the extra mile. They more readily embrace thinking that may be a little foreign-placed, from enterprises big and small, within and outside healthcare. The resources available to tap into run the gamut from consumer-only to tech to business consulting to three guys in a garage. Let’s also point out that there’s the omnipresent sharp- elbow information machines like Google + Facebook. And more frequently agencies are facing home grown corporate shops that are often incredibly aggressive and can tell their story better than anyone.

So rather than like-enterprises swallowing up other whales, there’s a revolution in thinking about the customer, in this case, the patient. Who’s best able to speak to them – best at opening boulevards to connectivity; who has the most reliable, big-ears for listening; who’s the most confident and adroit at exploring uses of social and digital channels or mining data and reading analytics? On top of it all is the process: more conspicuous and actively weighing the value of cross functionalization vs. old school practice areas.

One of the keys to success for agencies is growing staff encouragement or driving culture disruption relative to how they organize themselves – that’s dealing with how to operate day-to-day in what’s truly a new environment requiring bootstrap courage and willingness.  The underlying requirement for more predictable successes is a dialed-in management supporting equal measures of generosity, genuineness adaptably and willingness to roll the dice.