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13 Reasons to Write Your 2014 Marketing Plan in Pencil

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

marketing plan book for successHealthcare is on a countdown to the New Year, and the only thing certain about 2014 is that it will be different from its predecessor. Plan accordingly.

More than ever, your marketing plan—for a medical practice, hospital, service line or health systems—should be written in pencil. You’ll need a nimble plan to keep ahead of the dynamics of 2014. It's when the most significant components of healthcare reform come online.

By mid-October many medical marketing plans and budgets are drafted…some are “final,” and more than a few are overdue. Here are some important ideas, challenges and issues to consider as you plan for 2014, healthcare’s “tipping point” year.

  • Understand your target audience…and everyone else, too. From prospect to provider, and from referring colleague to professional staff, the once-familiar and predictable wants, needs and interests have all changed. Challenge and verify your previous assumptions.
  • Patents are increasingly engaged and health-conscious. Empowered by the Internet, social media, and, for many, changes in medical insurance plans and options (or lack of it), healthcare is increasingly consumer-centric.
  • Prospective new patients are confused by Affordable Care Act changes. Awareness of new insurance exchanges is low among uninsured with less than half planning to get coverage through them. (Gallup)
  • The healthcare decision journey is more complex than Brouse > Shop > Buy. Rethink the process from the patient's perspective. For most people the chain begins online.
  • Already aggressive competition continues to intensify. (Enough said.)
  • Successful marketing efforts can improve outcomes, quality of care and prevention.  
  • Be proactive. Choose your battles carefully, but inaction or wait-and-see puts you further behind.
  • Marketing and advertising influences reputation and drives brand recognition.
  • Resources are constrained and the margin for error is zero.
  • New opportunities exist, but are harder to find and exploit. Advances in technology, medical science, and even reform harbor new—if unfamiliar—paths to achieving goals. Be flexible.
  • Apply advanced strategies for precision reach and cost-effective results. A carefully selected mix of “traditional” and “new/digital” media can work efficiently and do more with less.
  • Change is certain to continue. Nearly every part of the healthcare industry is reinventing itself.  Keep your goals in sight, but review your strategies and tactics at least monthly.
  • Track results to know what’s working and what’s not. Be prepared to make adjustments and push the winners.

Success of your 2014 Marketing Plan will be measured—in part—by a quantified Return-on-Investment and goal achievement. But it will also be expected to produce these results by way of a smarter and more selective use of resources.

The bonus payout will be greater impact, to stand out in the marketplace—head-and-shoulders above the competition—and with lower costs, larger market share, and more income.

FOR MORE on this topic, see An Intelligent Approach to Creating an Durable Marketing Plan and Make Every Dollar Count With a Custom Marketing Plan.

Lonnie Hirsch

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