You do you have a marketing plan, right? Well, even if you don’t have a formal marketing plan, chances are there are certain things you do to market your practice.
But most import… Do you market your practice on a regular basis, and do you get results from your marketing efforts?
So here we are at the last article in our series “Getting Started In Marketing.” If you’ve read the previous six articles, you have a pretty good idea what marketing is all about. Most of what goes into your marketing plan was discussed in the previous articles.
At first glance, marketing seems pretty straight forward, right? But things are not always what they seem…
Once you start digging a bit deeper, you realize how complex marketing is. It can take you in many different directions.
There are endless possibilities and countless ways to market your business. Unfortunately, results are not always certain or guaranteed.
A Brief Review…
Let me start by reviewing what was discussed in the previous six articles. I’ll include links to the articles, in case you want to go back and re-read them.
We started out talking about your ideal patient. Of course, you don’t always get to choose who you’ll work with. But the point of identifying your ideal customer/patient is this: it allows you to dial in your marketing message.
We talked about your website and how to turn it into your 24/7 sales force, reliable and always ready to go.
The next article in the series discussed what to publish on your website… Because words matter, they either work for or against you.
Then we addressed the benefits of social media marketing for your practice and any potential challenges.
And finally, last weeks’ article outlined four main categories of marketing: internal, external, offline, and online.
What Is A Marketing Plan?
So now, let’s get back to talking about your marketing plan. First off, what is a marketing plan?
Your marketing plan is the blueprint or system you’ll use to get your sales (yes, there is that word again!) message to the right customers. It includes anything and everything you’ll do to market and advertise your business.
What should be included in this plan? Well, it all depends on who’ll you talk to.
The bigger the company, the more detail. Marketing plans tend to get very specific, including detailed analysis, opportunities & threats, budgets & forecasts, and of course specific marketing strategies.
For a small office and business, it’s important you have a plan!
Don’t get me wrong, detail and specifics are good, but sometimes can be overkill.
Ideally, you have an up-to-date business plan, which includes a section on marketing your business.
But in case you don’t, here are some key items to include in the marketing plan for your practice.
It’s About Clarity…
Here is a list of what you want to include as part of your marketing plan:
- Describe your product or service. Even though this may seem redundant, putting it down on paper gives you tremendous clarity about what specifically you offer to your customer.
If you offer a number of different services or products in your office, include all of them in your description. Different services and products may call for different marketing methods and resources.
- Decide what time frame will be covered by this marketing plan.
- Are you creating a marketing plan/campaign to be used for a limited time, perhaps the next six months?
- Are you creating marketing to be used ongoing (evergreen) with special events marketing to be added, when needed?
- Outline what it is you want to accomplish with your marketing, your goals.
- Do you want to bring in 5 new patients a month?
- Do you want to increase awareness for your office?
- Do you want to introduce a new service you offer?
- Do you want to introduce a new provider?
- Each of these goals may call for different methods and resources.
- Decide which marketing methods you will use to accomplish your specific goals:
- Placing an ad in the online weekend edition of the local newspaper for the next four weeks
- Creating a one-time mailing to certain provider offices and community organizations
- Participating in a health fair once a quarter
- Getting on social media
- Sending out birthday cards to patients as part of your “customer retention strategy.”
- Sending out thank you cards to referring providers as part of your “referral process strategy.”
- Set a budget and commit resources.
- How many dollars are you willing to commit to marketing?
- How much of your own time are you willing to commit to creating effective marketing?
- Who on your staff can do the bulk of the specific marketing activities, such as placing ads or updating your website?
- Do you need to hire (and pay) outside expertise for help with your marketing efforts?
- Create an Implementation Schedule and Timeline.
- Decide and outline when you will do what, and write it down.
- Think about frequency and duration of your various marketing efforts.
- Consider how much time you or a dedicated staff person can commit to marketing at any particular time.
- Implement the activities outlined in your plan.
As I said earlier, marketing can be complex and overwhelming. So how does one stick with the program, without getting overwhelmed and abandoning the plan altogether?
3 Simple Steps…
Let me share three simple steps or strategies to help you stick with your marketing plan.
- Don’t over complicate things; keep it simple. It’s more important to commit to one or two marketing activities rather than trying to do it all. Start small and scale up from there, if necessary.
- Be consistent… Consistency is key. Regardless if you decide to tap into social media, publish articles on your website, or send out an e-newsletter, do it consistently. Your patients will look for and expect your updates. Again, start conservative and scale from there; don’t overextend yourself or your resources. You can always do more, but doing less might hurt you.
- Track your results and evaluate your marketing plan on a regular basis. Is your marketing working? Is it doing what it is supposed to do? Is there a return on your investment? After all, there’s no point continuing if you do not see the results you want.
Keep it simple, start small and go from there. When you approach marketing with this mindset, it’s less likely you’ll get overwhelmed and stop your marketing altogether.
Marketing, just like anything else, takes time. And depending on your marketing methods of choice, it may take longer for you to see results.
So start small, keep it simple, be patient… and stick to your plan.
We want to hear from you…
Tell us what you think and what’s your marketing plan.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“