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Evolving Client/Agency Model Beyond Just a Menu of Capabilities


Brand Insights - Thought Leadership | Paid Program

Are you working with a network or a committee?

Alec Issigonis, the inventor of the Mini automobile, also invented a proverb that’s truer today than ever: A camel is a horse designed by a committee. Of course, he was speaking of a dynamic where effective ideas face their worst enemy: groupthink. When applied to the internal workings of a single company, the worst that can happen is a one-off idea at odds with customer values. However, when such a dynamic takes hold of an entire industry, the industry puts itself in jeopardy of irrelevance. Look at the makeup of the large healthcare networks today. Such carbon-copy models only make sense in the land of groupthink. Traditional networks have become committees, and that’s not good for business.

Why it’s necessary to rethink the relationship

In the not-too-distant past, pharmaceutical marketers sorted through the individual and diverse agency brands to find one that felt right. The agencies had names on the doors. They had personalities that were characterized by an intuitive understanding of what clients were looking for. The blockbuster decades of the 1990s and 2000s, with their global visions of success, made it necessary for healthcare agency networks to expand their footprint both in capabilities and size. They built networks to last with the assumption that times would never change. Well, the blockbuster era is over for now. Small and mid-sized biotech, and special disease-focused or platform-based marketers, have become just as vital as their larger counterparts. Clients shouldn’t have to settle for prefab partners. Therefore, the concept of a healthcare agency network must change once again.

Creating a model that’s not a model at all

The word “model” implies a fixed structure, incapable of transformation due to its size and investment in itself. Not so today. It should be organic and fluid, engineered around a client’s DNA rather than the other way around. So, let’s strip everything down, and start to create a network from scratch, not by committee, but by the minds of a few industry veterans—ex-patriots of the big-network world.

Truth Serum: A new concept evolving with you, not on its own

The engine that drives the Truth Serum NTWK is not a flagship agency at all, but rather the largest privately held publication and multimedia company, MJH Life Sciences. MJH engages 7.6 million unique monthly visitors to their brands each month, by delivering trusted healthcare and scientific information to professional audiences and patients across all therapeutic areas. The Truth Serum NTWK provides services to businesses looking to reach and better understand these professional audiences. Discovery, strategy, concepts, messaging, and so on—every single aspect of what we do is informed and vetted by them in real time. This approach not only produces on-target, impactful work as one might imagine, but also cuts down the time it takes to get things done.

Add to this nucleus, a service model engineered around you. What if you didn’t have pay your network to learn on your dime? By tapping into the Truth Serum, we get up to speed and ready for work on day one. What if your network concentrated on elevating your brand rather than managing its profitability? At Truth Serum, we don’t keep time sheets because we don’t sell time. We set a fixed fee and challenge ourselves to manage it, so there are no budget surprises, or any reluctance to pick up the phone out of concern that the meter is running.

Always question the status quo

When considering working with a network, then you should ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you accommodating their model?
  2. Will they be selling hours or results?
  3. Do they allow you unlimited access to customer-insight data in real time?

The answers will make the points articulated here not just a concept but rather a reality. It’s time for healthcare agency networks to stop thinking like a committee, and get back to acting like a true partner.