By Nicki Kamau
Whether you operate senior living communities or facilitate a hospice program, considering which tactics and strategies to include in your senior care marketing plan can be a daunting task, even more so if you're looking to work with someone outside of your existing team.
Agencies can become a part of your team and transform your business, but it's important that you find right one.
Here are a few things to think about as you look for your next agency partner:
1. What Do They Offer?
A full-service marketing agency should be able to offer everything your business needs in the realm of marketing. They develop and deliver a comprehensive marketing program as a one-stop shop. Look for gaps in your own marketing team and see if the agency can fill them with a tailor-made contract for your business.
Hiring an agency will likely be more affordable than hiring all talent in-house, and it will be just one relationship to manage. However, if you have a powerful in-house team that just needs a little extra help or expertise, think about engaging an agency on one-off projects.
2. Are They Results-Driven?
If an agency isn’t results-driven, that’s an issue. It’s an even bigger problem if they can’t provide documentation of their results. Reporting is just as important as the work they do each month because it keeps everyone accountable, reveals what's effective, and allows the team to redirect efforts based on results. You want a marketing partner that can take your business to the next level by improving upon what works and eliminating what doesn't.
Be sure you clear goals and the right KPIs for your business to keep the agency accountable.
3. Do They Understand the Senior Care Market?
You want to work with a team that understands your market. While there are some questions they'll need to ask you to understand your specific business or the way you operate, steer clear of any agency that doesn't have any expertise in senior care.
By engaging with a company who knows the ins and outs of this industry, the ramp-up time is far shorter, and they can focus on meeting your business goals instead of their own education.
A good litmus test for this is to ask an agency what the ideal buyer persona is. Your contact should be able to tell you, without hesitation, that depending on your business goals it could be:
A caregiver or loved one
A patient or resident
A healthcare professional
Of course, a great agency will also want to confirm their assumptions by asking more questions about your business.
3. Who Does the Work?
Ask clarifying questions so that you understand who from the agency will be working with your team. You may sign the dotted line because you connected well with the sales team, but do they just pass you along to an intern once you get going? Does the agency have an account manager that relays information between you and the employees creating your marketing? Or, do you have direct access to those completing the day to day functions?
It’s important to understand what the team looks like as you move forward so you can feel comfortable and confident in the partnership.
4. Learn from Others
Once you narrow down to a few viable agencies to work with, ask for referrals.
An agency should be able to connect you with a handful of other companies they have worked with. Take advantage of this and reach out to as many as you can. Other clients have been in your shoes and will likely be honest about their experience with an agency. Make sure you speak with at least one other company that is in your industry.
On the flip side, any agency will connect you with their happiest customers who can give you positive information. But what about the negative? Looking at reviews posted on a third-party site, like HubSpot's agency directory (yes a shameless plug where we're listed), will give you a better idea of agency/client relationships overall.
5. A Few More Things to Think About
It’s OK to break up.
Not every relationship will last forever. Whether the agency isn’t meeting the expectations that you set at the beginning, you've outgrown what the agency can provide you, or the agency has solved your initial problem and you can move forward on your own, it’s OK to end the partnership.
Look outside your city.
Although it may be nice to think that you can drive over and sit at a table with your marketing agency’s team, don’t overlook agencies outside of your geographic area.
SmartBug is a fully remote company—we have super talented marketers all over North America, and we work with clients all over the world. Remote work enables our agency to hire the best and the brightest, and not be restrained by geographic area.
Do they market themselves well?
This one is simple. If you’re looking at an agency to redo your website and you can’t navigate theirs, look elsewhere. Use their own marketing as proof for what they can provide for your business.
Are they thought leaders?
Look for an agency that is a leader in its industry and filled with employees dedicated to professional growth. Why? Because if the agency is leading the way for themselves, they will lead the way for your business and your industry as well. And dedicating time to educating their employees means that by hiring that agency as an extension of your team, you're hiring employees that are up to date on the latest technologies, certifications and marketing know how.
A great partner can change the trajectory of our business so don’t settle. Set your goals, use these tips, and find the right fit!