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The Healthcare Marketing Exchange

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Real-world insights and ideas

A marketing plan is not a list of marketing ideas from which you randomly select different concepts to test or combine for trial-and-error experimentation. That is just random, episodic, spaghetti-on-the-wall marketing activity - which is almost always a high-risk prescription for disappointment, frustration and failure.

A marketing plan is a strategic document that is designed to facilitate the achievement of specific business goals and objectives over a specific time period.

Would you consider hiring contractors to build out your new office or clinic without first developing and approving the architectural blueprints? Well, that's essentially what you are doing when you engage in random, reactionary marketing activities without first developing a well thought out marketing plan.

Most marketing plans are conceived to extend no longer than one year before the plan is reassessed for modifications, additions, subtractions or entire reinvention depending on constantly evolving business goals and circumstances. In fact, a properly implemented marketing plan is constantly being assessed by accurate and consistent tracking systems to evaluate the plan's performance against expectations. This continual evaluation is performed so that ongoing adjustments can be made to improve the plan's yield.

Benefits of a Marketing Plan

A good marketing plan allows you to anticipate, assess, prepare, build a road map to follow, cover-your-bases, construct necessary support systems, protect yourself and dramatically improve your chances for marketing success.

Critical Elements of a Marketing Plan

Target Marketing - Establishing Target Customers
Competition Analysis
SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
Strategies and Tactics
Marketing Budgets
Marketing System

Target Marketing - Establishing Target Customers

Your marketing budget is going to be most effective when it reaches your selected target market. The benefit of target marketing is simple—efficiency. Solid target marketing is a method to more efficiently reach your customers*. Target marketing is a better use of your most valuable resources, i.e. time and money, to generate additional revenue.

(* In this website, we use the terms "patient" and "customer" interchangeably. We do this intentionally because it is vital that you and your staff think of and treat your patients AS customers and not simply as medical or dental charts and records. Apparently, this is easier said than done if you judge by the way most patients are treated in most healthcare practices.)

Your goal is to get to know as much information as you can about your existing or prospective customers. The more you know about your customers, the better you will be able to make decisions that will enhance your ability to communicate and connect with them.

Who do you consider will benefit the most from your products and services? Think of the people and their most common characteristics and attributes. One of the best ways to identify your target market is to look at your existing customer base. Who are your ideal clients? What do they have in common? If you do not have an existing customer base, or if you are targeting a completely new audience, speculate on who they might be, based on their needs and the benefits they will receive. Investigate competitors or similar businesses in other markets to gain insight.

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Marketing a healthcare organization can be challenging - even painful if you don't approach it with the right knowledge, tools, and guidance. By reading about mistakes and lessons others have learned the hard way, you can boost your marketing effectiveness and take a shortcut to success. Discover how to avoid these "Seven Deadly Sins". Plus, join over 30,000 of your fellow healthcare providers with a free subscription to our Insight Newsletter.

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