By John Lavey, CEO/President
One word in healthcare marketing seems to be radioactive: retainer.
Historically, healthcare marketing agencies charged retainers and delivered valuable advisory services for that monthly fee, and then charged for time and materials above and beyond the fee for deliverables (design, content, advertising buys, etc.).
The Great Recession, which started in 2007, upended many business models, and was when we started to see traditional marketing transform into what we know think of as digital marketing (2007 was also the same year the first iPhone was introduced). Our company founder, Rex Hammock, framed this revolutionary change as shifting from reliance on other media channels (via ad agencies and PR firms) to taking control of media creation for direct customer outreach.
With traditional agencies rocked by slashed marketing budgets and a whole new paradigm for reaching customers possible with digital marketing, the idea of charging retainers came under pressure. Plus, the labor market was full of former journalists and marketers who could work freelance for healthcare companies to accomplish their marketing needs.
Plenty of agencies still charge retainers. But many healthcare companies began paying for specific deliverables rather than retaining agencies, especially in content marketing and specialized digital marketing. Retainer became a negative word.
While retainers in the old days may have implied money that wasn’t accountable, there is an increased need today for balancing the delivery of assets with the guidance and expertise (and outside perspective) that come from working with a content agency, not just buying a certain amount of content. I’m curious to know how you view this issue. Feel free to let me know!
Image: Getty Images
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