Make Beautiful Music Together - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Make Beautiful Music Together
One brand message, multiple agencies: Here are 10 easy tips for navigating the intra-agency divide


Successful Product Manager's Handbook


3. Create contact lists

Brand teams should arm agencies with a complete arsenal of their partners' contact information, including titles, job responsibilities, and where employees sit in their respective organizations. This may sound simple, but it's an important detail that is too often overlooked. Knowing who to call and how to reach them are critical steps toward achieving integration.

However, contact sheets only work when they're updated regularly—at least quarterly. Make sure people who need them have access to the information as well.

4. Create consistency and surprise

With busy schedules, it's often difficult for agency partners to attend a singular brand meeting. But in taking an integrated approach to brand marketing, their presence is important to, not only their success, but also the success of the product.

To ensure that all agencies can be present during a meeting, product managers may wish to designate a specific day to hold meetings for their partners—for example, the third Monday of each month. However, other elements of the meeting should differ, such as the location of the meeting—each agency should have a turn hosting—and who presents first. This way, no one agency has a monopoly or a home-court advantage, and no agency is consistently stuck presenting toward the end of the meetings, when attention spans may wane.

5. Reinforce successful efforts

Start each meeting by highlighting how different agency partners have helped each other since the previous meeting. As an extension of this, companies should work to understand how activities across disciplines can enhance messages and campaigns, and make intra-agency integration part of each agency's annual review.

Additionally, agencies should be encouraged to invite other partners to plan brainstorms, whether or not the client is present.

6. Insist on coordinated presentations

Rather than instructing each agency to complete their own competitive analysis—an inevitably redundant task, given the number of partners on each brand—pharma marketers should ask their agencies to pool resources and collaborate on one comprehensive document that highlights competitor activity. The same time- and cost-savings strategy is applicable to the development of the brand's key communications goals and other fundamental content that serve as the foundation for a brand's program and initiatives.

7. Develop common tools

Sometimes, just by using the same tools, integration can be facilitated. Take templates, for example. Brand teams can encourage agencies to use the same template for slides they are creating; this way, all the information from all the agency partners can be combined. Asking agencies to retrofit a presentation into a template after-the-fact costs the agencies time—and the brand, money.

8. Share medical insights and research

If one team has solved a message puzzle with the client's medical/regulatory team, other partners will benefit from hearing about that insight. What's more, it may be detrimental to the brand if they don't: Some teams may continue to use different language or outdated information in their materials, which can cause confusion with key audiences.

In turn, insights gleaned about consumers should be shared to ensure cohesive thinking.

9. End each meeting with a challenge

Include time to brainstorm ideas for integration and put a follow-up mechanism in place to ensure good ideas are acted upon. For example, end each meeting with a challenge to e-mail the brand manager with an idea that leverages another agency's experience. Is there footage from an ad or VNR shoot that another agency could use? Could accredits go toward developing a Web-based editorial initiative? How can a good spokesperson deployed for one discipline be used in another capacity?

10. Brainstorm to find synergies

Brainstorms provide an opportunity for agencies to think beyond their own boundaries for solutions. When brainstorming, one question to always ask is, "Where can we find synergies?" Marketers also should brainstorm about how to build and measure return on investment for various brand campaigns and initiatives.

In addition to solving day-to-day issues for the brand, integrated agency meetings provide an opportunity to use the assembled brainpower to do some "blue-sky" thinking and planning on the future of the brand. With so many teams working on a product, nothing beats face time for getting creative juices flowing.


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Source: Successful Product Manager's Handbook,
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