Category Archives: Advertising & Marketing

Newsweek Partners with The Goodness Company for Special Medical Tourism Leaders Showcase Advertising Supplement

The Goodness Company, CEO Patrick Goodness develops medical tourism article for supplement, “The Future of American Healthcare Will be Found in the Caribbean and Latin America.”

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – The Goodness Company, a leader in medical tourism and international health care marketing with offices in the U.S. and Latin America, is proud to announce its partnership with Newsweek for a special advertising supplement featuring advertising from innovative healthcare organizations that are leading the way in global medical tourism. This supplement will be published in the October 15, 2012 issue of Newsweek to Newsweek subscribers.  The supplement will also be available on newsstands in the top twenty major metropolitan markets throughout the U.S.

Nearly 50 million Americans live without health insurance.  As affordable medical care in the U.S. becomes more difficult to afford, the prospect of traveling abroad for high-quality, low-cost medical care has dramatically increased in popularity within recent years. Americans routinely save 50 to 80 percent over standard U.S. prices on medical and dental procedures performed by world-renowned doctors in leading medical tourism destinations.

“As the most recognized global medical tourism marketing agency in the world, we are thrilled to partner with Newsweek for this special medical tourism advertising supplement.  Our goal is to showcase leading international hospitals and healthcare organizations that are making a difference in the medical tourism industry.  We want readers to learn about and consider the many excellent destinations to plan a medical vacation,” said Patrick Goodness, CEO of The Goodness Company. “Since many Americans are unfamiliar with the concept of medical tourism, now is the time to educate them about the tremendous benefits they can realize by seeking medical care beyond U.S. borders. Huge savings is just the start.  Many leading international hospitals provide warm, personalized care in state of the art medical facilities that outshine most American hospitals and medical centers.  Many international medical providers are showing their American patients the meaning of world-class health care.”

In Goodness’ article entitled, “The Future of American Healthcare Will be Found in the Caribbean and Latin America,” he describes the explosive growth of the medical tourism industry and the positive impact it has had on healthcare providers who are pioneering efforts to create a better patient experience for their American customers. Goodness explains that international patients often find that the healthcare they receive in foreign hospitals meets or exceeds the quality of healthcare they have received in the U.S.

“It’s a win-win situation,” added Goodness. “Americans that travel outside of the U.S. for more affordable medical care realize substantial savings on their medical or dental procedures over U.S. prices.  Many medical tourists extend their stay and enjoy a relaxing vacation in a beautiful foreign country. Most reputable international healthcare providers work diligently to ensure that their American patients receive the highest-quality medical care and feel safe and “at home” even they are while away from home.”

“It’s time that Americans began shopping for their healthcare that same way they shop for most everything else.  When we cannot find affordable, quality healthcare in the U.S., we need to be willing to look outside our borders to find it. It’s only through expanded choice that America will accomplish real, lasting change and eventually repair our damaged healthcare system”

Advertisers in the Newsweek special medical tourism leaders advertising supplement include the following:

  • Almater Hospital: Mexicali, Mexico
  • Bahamas Medical Center: Nassau, Bahamas
  • Costa Rica Dental Team: San Jose, Costa Rica
  • New You Smile Center: San Antonio, Texas
  • Dr. Jaime Zapata: Cali, Colombia

Seven Steps to Finding the Right Advertising Agency

The “I Can Have It All” attitude is prevalent today in client-vendor relationships, but invariably leads to disappointment. Clearly, no single advertising agency can fill a client’s divergent requirements. It is important however, to decide which of the following three attributes; *Service – Pricing – Results* is most important. The goal is to focus on “unique needs” to determine what is crucial to one’s sanity and success. Reputable advertising agencies have a singular purpose: To produce advertising that brands your business and generates quality leads within a reasonable budget. It’s important to find an agency that delivers consistent results while providing exceptional service at affordable prices. The following steps may help narrow the search to find the right advertising agency.

1. Advertising agencies generally fall into two categories: “Proactive Strategists” or “Simple Order Takers”. Determine the appropriate agency type and begin the search accordingly.
Rationale: If one has the spare time and the expertise to write advertisements and plan media strategy, a “Simple Order Taker Agency” may be sufficient. These agencies wait for a client to call, and act on client direction, placing ads as specified and ordered. The costs are minimal, as is the service provided. Most managers simply don’t have the time to learn the nuances of advertising, and are looking to entrust this work to a responsible, experienced agency that will jump in and take charge. “Proactive Strategist Agencies” are committed to learning a client’s business and offering valuable advice and insights to provide increased efficiency. Proactive agencies routinely remind clients of advertising opportunities and often bring new media ventures to their door with a sound recommendation that matches their corporate goals…making their clients #1…not just another number.

2. Ask to review letters of commendation from current clients? Make sure to follow-up with these contacts personally.
Rationale: The goal is to find the agency that takes the time to understand their client’s unique needs and develops solid, lasting relationships built on hard work, trust and a proven successful track record. Letters of commendation from current clients show client satisfaction and allow a better understanding of the strengths the prospective agency brings. If possible, speak personally with current clients and glean inside information about how the agency operates, values their clients and responds to their consistent needs.

3. Ask to speak with the agency representatives who will handle your account business on a daily basis. Take some time to get to know them, to gauge their experience and assess their strengths.
Rationale: Most agencies will send company Directors and Vice Presidents to pitch new business. Don’t assume that the same experienced team that pitches new business also handles day to day account management. Some smaller agencies offer high-level executives as account representatives, which is an incredible bonus. However many larger agencies often pass big accounts to junior level executives and routinely send smaller volume accounts on to new hires with very little agency experience and almost no knowledge of the advertising marketplace and the nuances of media planning and purchasing. Moreover, ad development may also be handled by a novice designer/copywriter with little experience in creating effective advertising. While the agency may have a recognizable name, a great track record and a strong management team, these will matter very little if one’s account does not have regular access to the agency’s best talent. As a general rule: Pay less attention to the agency’s size and client roster and focus on the individuals who will comprise the account team. For a breath of fresh air, give a small advertising agency an opportunity to pitch new business. What’s surprising is the number of small agencies with impressive Fortune 500 clients that understand the value of attentive personal service, sound research and proactive experienced direction, often at a fraction of the leading agency’s rates.

4. Place regular calls to the selected account representatives to see if they are available to take routine calls.
Rationale: Perhaps the most important factor an agency can offer is consistent access and availability. If an agency representative is consistently away from the desk or unavailable to take a call, what kind of service can potential clients expect? If agency representatives are frequently unavailable…leave a message and take note of how long it takes for them return a call. It’s also recommended to send a few random email queries, requesting a reply. Prompt callbacks and return emails are crucial to solid client/agency rapport and are a strong indicator of how the agency prioritizes the day to day needs of its clients. This approach also allows clients to test the general knowledge and personality of your the contacts. Do they respond positively to calls, emails and inquiries or do they seem frustrated and generally unenthusiastic about working with the account? Better to find out now, before signing the contract!

5. Uncover one or two of the agency’s clients and review the work performed by the agency. Maybe it’s a brochure…perhaps a web site. See if the work provided meets your standards.
Rationale: Ask an agency to send portfolio samples and they’re likely to send an impressive assortment of work that show’s their best creative concepts. While, it is certainly good to see what type of work an agency is capable of producing, what’s more important is the understanding of the work the agency provides for clients on a regular basis. This is a good way to ascertain if all of their clients receive equally impressive creative attention. Pay special attention to the graphical elements and to creative writing. If you need a full-service agency, quality design and writing services are paramount.

6. Is the agency experiencing personnel concerns? Check CareerBuilder or Craigslist to see how many in-house positions the prospective agency is recruiting on a regular basis.
Rationale: As a general rule of thumb, if the agency routinely has open positions, it’s likely that there will be significant employee retention issues, which will affect the quality of service the clients will receive. Some agencies are consistently looking for graphic designers, copywriters and account coordinators. If these agencies have difficulty retaining quality in-house talent, one can assume that client accounts will be shuffled from one designer/writer/account manager to another, resulting in poor service, as well as uninspiring creative. One can also determine agency employee retention by asking to see an employee list indicating hire dates. If a significant number of agency employees were hired within the past few months, it’s likely that more than 50% of these employees will be looking for a new job within 8-12 months!

7. Ask how the agency will bill for creative and media services. Make sure to get specific hourly and service rates for all personnel assigned to the account.
Rationale: Most are surprised at the differences in agency billing procedures and how much these differences will impact the bottom line. Many agencies bill hourly for media research, planning and placement in addition to creative development work and the standard 15% agency media placement commission. If you neglect to establish adequate directives and set a cap on the number of hours spent on the account, expect a surprise with exorbitant monthly bills for largely unnecessary work. Progressive advertising agencies are implementing a standard fee structure to avoid hourly rate issues, and are choosing to invoice their clients immediately after project confirmation to avoid any end of the month billing surprises. More importantly, there are exceptional agencies that do not charge clients for routine media research and planning, essentially including these services as part of their standard agency commission, often saving clients a great deal of money every year.

As a general rule of thumb…”Do the homework” is the best advice to be given. A hasty decision today only makes for an uncomfortable and invariably rocky agency relationship tomorrow. Take the time to select an agency that proves it deserves the business.

Patrick Goodness, CEO
The Goodness Company

Selecting a Creative Advertising Agency

The process for selecting an advertising agency to represent your company is much like the search for a new car. The search starts by ascertaining your needs, followed by a hunt for the agency that will best meet those needs. It all seems rather simple and straightforward. But today, the search for an advertising agency is unnecessarily fraught with hundreds of other considerations that distract clients from seeing through the fuzzy haze to the core of an agency’s offerings.

Consider for a moment the myriad service offerings that many advertising agencies offer today. Extranet sites, database systems, lead management systems and a hundred other “systems” have become commonplace offerings by most advertising agency giants. Even small agencies have succumbed to the temptation to offer these extra service offerings as a way to boost margins and impress potential clients. What’s wrong with offering all of these diverse services? Nothing at all…as long as these services aren’t a purposeful diversion to shift a potential client’s attention away from an agency’s competency with the basics of advertising.

As an owner of an advertising agency with an exceptional creative team, I am consistently edified to learn that our clients come back to us time and again for our creative approach to advertising. While we still faithfully retain our loyal clients that have come to trust our work, we’ve recently seen a notable shift in the client-agency dialogue as we continue to pitch new business. Most potential clients still “ooh” and “aah” over our ads, brochures and websites, but only recently we find ourselves hearing a new phrase that has caught us entirely by surprise. It goes something like this. “Of all the agencies we’ve considered, your creative development is far and away the best. BUT…we’re also seriously considering another agency that offers “insert management or database service here.”

In follow-up conversations with the client, we inevitably learn that the client was not impressed with the creative advertising solutions presented by competitor agencies, but was impressed by the barrage of services that promised to revolutionize their processes. If we don’t earn the business, it has generally been part of my “pick yourself up” practice to have a good chuckle, and then move on to greener pastures. But lately, this trend has grown to epidemic proportions. My chuckle isn’t what it used to be.

These days, clients are shopping for advertising agencies in a whole new way. Creativity used to be the yardstick by which all advertising agencies were measured. Only the best creative agencies rose to the top and earned the business. The rest scuttled about for the crumbs left over by the biggest and the best. Today, an agency’s creative development is still measured, but in an industry rife with creative mediocrity, many “creativity challenged” agencies still get the business because they have successfully convinced their clients that creativity matters less than the systems they peddle.

Allow me to share a story that illustrates this point. My agency was one of three agencies invited to pitch a significant regional account. Before our presentation we learned that this company already had an internet database system in place and a number of other management software solutions, all of which satisfied their needs. They were looking for an agency to impress them with strong creative advertising concepts. Great! We made our presentation and impressed them with our creative concepts for their business. Confident in our capabilities, we walked away with some assurance that our agency would occupy the top spot. It was weeks later however when we learned that despite our first-rate creative concepts, sparkling commendations, and impeccable service, another agency had been chosen because they offered a promising database management system. When I inquired if the client had in fact been looking for another database management system…they replied that they had not been looking. At that point, it became apparent that this company had lost its way, and had been persuaded to forsake its primary objective in place of a system it did not need or even want.

Then it hit me.

If these same people shopped for cars the same way they shop for an advertising agency, the car they eventually choose would never be able to leave the lot. You see, if an advertising agency isn’t creative, nothing else matters. It’s like looking at two different cars. One runs great. The other car doesn’t have an engine at all, but it has a great 8-speaker stereo. The savvy shopper would of course purchase the car that runs well, and add the stereo later. But today, many clients are so caught up with the sound of the stereo that they forget to check to see if the car will actually run.

Quite simply, creativity is the engine that drives the message. Without creative advertising solutions that grab attention, none of the bells and whistles will ever matter. What good is a database management system, when there are no names in the database to manage? You get the picture.

There is an upside to a downturn in the economy. While many choose only to see the doom and gloom of a slow market, this necessary lull encourages us to get back to basics. It gives us pause to review the successes of truly great brands, and encourages you to chart an ambitious course for your company…for a time in the not too distant future when the creative positioning of your brand will make the difference between success and failure.

It’s time for clients to be certain that the bells and whistles touted by so many advertising agencies don’t come at the expense of truly creative advertising solutions. Just remember that you won’t get their business if you can’t get their attention.

So, if you’re in the market for a new advertising agency, make sure you check under the hood to see the creative engine. And if you decide that the bells and whistles are more important than the basics of sound creative advertising…just turn up the stereo on your new car and close your eyes.

You may never notice you’re going nowhere.

Patrick Goodness, CEO
The Goodness Company