By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist
From a top-level perspective, a well-conceived marketing plan expresses four key elements. If each component of your plan does not clearly and specifically answer these questions, synergy and success are at risk.
Mindful that “performance precedes accountability by a narrow margin,” confirm the following for every item on the plan:
WHEN will this occur? Create a master calendar of events including start and end dates. Allow for lead-up, creative preparation or training time, as needed, prior to rollout. Adjust for holidays, staffing or other variables.
HOW will this be done? What resources—time, people, money, outside help, etc.—are needed for each activity? New activities may need to be front-loaded in the initial or one-time preparation?
WHO will be responsible? Tasks that are “everyone’s job,” are at risk without an assigned champion, or a specific individual who is accountable to the task. Some assignments may require a team effort, or a combination of internal and external resource people.
WHAT results will be tracked and reported? Is a tracking system in place to monitor results, compare with goals/objectives and report frequently? What is the ROI?
In addition, evaluate progress periodically as the plan and marketing activities unfold. Provide feedback channels to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the plan and make adjustments.
And finally, realize that marketing, advertising, brand-building and related programs need time to realize their full potential. Some strategies and tactics will have a relatively rapid pay-back while others require repetition over a longer term.
Success is in the details…
It’s important for everyone in the organization to be aware of the big picture, even if they have an incidental role. As a quick reference, perhaps as an addendum to the marketing calendar:
- Create an overview summary of the current situation
- List the main marketing objectives
- Summarize main strategies to achieve goals
- Identify reasonable benchmarks for assessment
Add or subtract from the following checklist and use it as a framework to create your own implementation system.
Preparation and setup
- Create a marketing calendar including critical deadlines and milestones
- Develop of campaign concepts, positioning and brand message
- Create media plan (for external media)
- Create marketing materials, ads, brochures, etc.
- Design protocol for testing, tracking and reporting
- Conduct staff orientation and training
Identify INTERNAL resources and responsibilities
- Evaluate current and estimated staff time demands
- Consider knowledge, experience and skill sets for assignments
- Assess/acquire computer hardware/software needs
Identify EXTERNAL resources and responsibilities
- Identify advertising agency and creative support
- Identify vendors for printing, mailing, supplies
- Establish website, IT, SEO, etc. vendor/resources
Assignments and Leadership
- Identify primary and secondary oversight responsibilities
- Clarify tasks, cooperative efforts and reporting lines
- List how and when plan will be monitored and measured
- Install analytics and metrics for monitoring and reporting
When outsourcing makes sense…
Marketing—including the many associated details and challenges—plays a significant business role the day-to-day operation of busy practices. Often, a designated “marketing person” oversees the calendar and vendor/resources, and perhaps produces some content or program materials.
There are times, however, when the need for marketing services exceeds in-house strengths and capabilities. Some may be ongoing needs, while others are episodic, short lived or during periods of ramp-up-and-launch.
Outsourcing marketing services usually makes sense when the assignment requires specialized skills (computer artist, creative talent), specialized knowledge (media buying), specialized equipment (professional film crew), or in the face of demanding deadlines.
Use internal resources when core competencies can be leveraged. Select and manage outside creative and marketing services for specialized skills and experience. Outsourcing is often more efficient and cost-effective—and produces better results.
If you need help with planning, implementation or outsourcing, there’s a free healthcare marketing assessment available here. And for related reading, use this checklist to begin your marketing planning process.