How do you cultivate the best possible client-agency relationship? In this three-part series, we take a closer look at the process of working together, obstacles faced and overcome, and ways to nurture success in the quest to do everything a bit more brilliantly.

In part two of our series, Laurie, Mardy and Austin take a deeper look at the value of marketing, how perceptions of it can differ depending on whose view it is—and ways these viewpoints immensely impact the results of your marketing.

Laurie: Austin, what you mentioned in our last discussion really sparked more conversation: “…our ideas are the currency; placing an exact value on that can look differently to each person.” Our marketing clients understand this implicitly. But their internal clients come from different disciplines where the value of marketing isn’t as easily understood. Value can look different to others.

Mardy: Yes, and differing perceptions of marketing’s value can be further inhibited by an archaic designation as a cost center. If marketing is viewed simply as a cost center, in a time when all costs need to be scrutinized and minimized, it may seem superfluous in comparison to life-saving technology or staffing expenditures.

Laurie: When marketing is seen as an investment instead of a cost center, it seems like a better depiction of its value and, as a result, better things happen for the organization.

Austin: Yeah, it changes perspective, which opens up the realm of possibility.

Laurie: And it’s important for the organization’s internal clients to see marketing as it is and can be. We’ve never had better tools to be able to measure investment and calibrate our work in quickly changing markets and consumer mindsets.

Austin: It was really educated guessing before, once a year research results—if that—for gauging progress. Now marketing can be measured on a daily basis and adjusted along the way with greater confidence. This makes a better case for viewing marketing budgets as sources of revenue instead of the outdated cost center designation.

Mardy: Definitely. I think this is why our conversations last week naturally segued from openness to helping our clients elevate marketing’s value in the minds of their C-suite and other colleagues. As healthcare evolves to provide services outside the traditional care setting and with a sharper consumer focus, marketing’s value is even more evident.

Laurie: This time of seismic change is creating opportunity. As a marketer, it’s really exciting to be involved in the early stages of the process when business priorities and the necessary marketing support are being defined. That’s where marketing’s value really begins—way before the strategy, creative, campaign work, and measurement are even talked about.

Austin: There has to be openness to involve marketing early on. And trust. Inviting marketing earlier in the process maximizes the value later in what can be delivered.

Laurie: The days of getting in on the end when it’s really execution time are waning, and that’s a good thing. Today, our healthcare marketing partners typically like to see us in on the early stages where innovative thinking first takes root.

Austin: Definitely. I think of circumstances when we have been involved early to great effect, but then there’s the skeptic or two in the room at key meetings that, at first, seem to hinder progress. They can be tough nuts to crack, but once they are able to see the positive difference our early involvement makes in numbers, they understand and become supportive.

Mardy: The resident skeptics or analytical colleagues tend to create more opportunities to share the marketing team’s why, and may open up more constructive discussion about marketing’s value. It challenges the work from all angles. It is healthy skepticism in many cases.

Laurie: You really have to think about every audience and their perceptions, how they process information, their concerns and needs: including members of your own marketing team, C-suite, clinical directors and other colleagues who also have differing perceptions of marketing. There are certainly analytical professionals who just don’t always perk up when you talk about the importance of an emotional connection that is integral to the work.

Which makes me think of another topic: marketing jargon and overuse of buzzwords. Let’s talk about that next.

Our take: the ways we think and talk about marketing’s role plays a big part in maximizing resources and achieving desired results. For a client-agency team, success starts with considering the concerns and insights of various stakeholders—early and often.

Your take: what are the challenges and opportunities you encounter in the process of creating marketing budgets? Does your internal team view marketing as more of a cost center or revenue generator?
Let us know your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you.