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2018 Marketing Resolution: Avoid the Disastrous 90-Day Crush

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

"New year, fresh start!" text in blue marker ink on planner calendarResolved: 2018 will be a time for thoughtful positive planning to achieve greater business success.

The best or the worst of every marketing year is the fourth and final quarter. For some hospitals and medical groups, unfortunately, this is a red flag danger zone.

It’s hard to say what caused the year-end period to become a traditional, disastrous crush. Maybe medical providers and staff are always busy. What’s more, October, November and December are constantly interrupted with a handful of distracting holidays.

Marketing Resolution Number One...

You can spot the symptoms. While nobody was looking, it seems that last year’s marketing plan was well considered, but largely neglected. As the New Year approaches, everyone realizes that the budget is either over-spent or under-spent. And worst of all, the 12-month business goals are nowhere close to achieving your plan.

Here are some of the basic management rules and best practices to follow to avoid another painful year-end.

Plan annually; adjust quarterly; implement monthly. Simple neglect is the enemy of marketing success. Conversely, successful practices, institutions and marketing plans thrive on regular attention. It can’t be crammed into the final 90-days.

Know what’s working, what’s not—and why. Use your regular tracking and reporting systems to measure your efforts, campaigns and content topics. Past performance is a guide to audience interests and greater returns. Push the winners. Change or eliminate poor performers. It’s not what you like or want; it’s all about the audience.

Fine-tuning is almost daily. No less than paying the rent, every month needs to be a Return-on-Investment (ROI) review. Make adjustments to the plan, budget and goals for the immediate 30-day term, and tentatively beyond. Take a longer view of plans and budget quarterly.

Don’t wait for January to roll out new efforts. There’s nothing sacred about waiting for the New Year to begin. It always seems to take more time than you would like for fresh marketing and advertising efforts to be created, be implemented and to gain traction. Anticipate a reasonable time-materials-and-budget ramp-up allowance in your planning. Start sooner.

Enlist professional help sooner, rather than later. An experienced advertising agency has rich resources available that can help avoid a year-end train wreck. The best approach, however, is to rely on continuing agency assistance throughout the year.

Sometimes, there’s a compulsive and urgent feeling to “get things done” before turning the page on the calendar. But it’s a lost-from-the-start proposition to neglect important details for most of the year in the hope of an eleventh-hour course correction.

If this sounds familiar, make this a time for positive change. Resolve to make early decisions and engage monthly with ongoing marketing efforts. With tracking and ROI for guidance, your new marketing resolution is to avoid last minute decisions and the disastrous year-end crush.

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