As you begin your hospital marketing planning, perhaps the most important question to ask is: How can this plan produce measurable results that meet the hospital business objectives?
You might think this idea is so obvious and fundamental that it should go without asking, but that’s not the case. In business in general—regardless of the industry—better than 75 percent of CEOs think marketers lose sight of the real job: to generate more demand for products and services in a business-quantifiable and business-measurable way. [Ref: Fournaise]
Creating and implementing a complete marketing plan that effectively and efficiently supports the many interests of the hospital is challenging (and often changing.) Measurable results, aligned with business objectives, set the course for moving forward. Use the following questions to help begin the process:
What works, and what doesn’t work? Assessing past performance—quantifiable, measurable indicators—provides a baseline or reference point. It’s important to understand WHY a particular effort succeeded (or not). Are you leveraging your strengths? Or repeating for convenience?
How has the competitive landscape changed? Seemingly overnight, direct and indirect competition can emerge, disappear or change with alarming consequences to your program. Is your competitive analysis current and correct, and is it forward-looking for trends and anticipated moves?
Is your SWOT analysis current? Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats require continuing attention. What’s more, you may need several assessments for the organization’s various services lines and market segments.
Has your online presence, including social media, kept pace? The Internet changes faster than healthcare itself, and today’s online marketing tools probably need adjustment. For example:
- Prospective patients (or family, friends, etc.) increasingly use Local Search to find and evaluate hospitals. Is your professional website optimized for new local search algorithms?
- Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, have become a primary search tool. How does your hospital website appear on “the small screen?”
- When was the last time your website was updated, maintained, refreshed and optimized? Is it time to rebuild or repair?
- What is your social media program? Are you engaging consumers in meaningful ways? Are you gaining insight from their comments, concerns, reviews and exchanges? Are you using the platforms that have the best connection with your target audiences?
Do you have an up-to-date online advertising strategy? Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising methods have become more sophisticated and more cost-effective. Carefully devised campaigns can target consumers by location, by their device and within pre-defined budget allowance.
How can you “do more with the same or less?” Marketing resources seldom fall in the “generous” category. Despite increasing internal demands, performance expectations typically outpace budget, time, people, etc. How are you planning to achieve greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness in that demanding environment? How can innovation and refined systems thinking improve this plan?
Have you tested your systems for real-time analytics and ROI tracking? Unfortunately, some marketing planners underutilize available sources of data (particularly online), or they mainly look at Return-on-Investment in hindsight. One of the significant benefits of tracking tools is the ability to make real-time adjustments.
There’s nothing simple about creating a highly effective hospital marketing program. This questionnaire is not exhaustive, but it presents top-line issues to begin the planning process. Refer to our information library for more about building a marketing system, or give us a call for help and fresh ideas.
Also, click through to the following articles for additional information:
- Checklist: Does Your Internet Presence Shine (or Suck)?
- 9-Point Call-to-Action Checklist for More Engaging Healthcare Marketing Results