Creating a healthcare marketing plan and budget for your practice can be a daunting task. Putting it into action? Another feat in itself.
We've developed a number of health & wellness marketing strategies over the years to help our clients achieve the goals they set - and then some. We've learned a number of things that you should do in your marketing planning & implementation, and things you should do your best to avoid.
Here, we share some of the insights we've gained over the last decade.
A few of the ‘Do’s’ to get you started:
Define your Vision and Strategy: Where do you want your business to be in three years? How can marketing help you realize this vision? Write this out as if you are living that moment right now. Explain in as much detail as you can - who will be on your team, what types of patients will you serve, which services are you offering, how much money are you making - to really bring this vision to life.
Define your goals: It sounds so obvious, but so many companies fail to do this. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you will never know if you got there. Set SMART goals - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. We recommend setting 1-3 annual goals, and all of those shouldn't compete, but rather work synergistically. A bad example would be: we want to increase sales. A good example would be: we want to increase sales by 15% by July through our social media influencer program.
Assessment: Consider marketing dynamics such as seasonality, shifting alliances between healthcare practices and other “political” issues. Consult previously created business plans, patient satisfaction surveys, community surveys and other information you have access for insights into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Comparative/Competitive Analysis: Study your competitors, know their weaknesses and what they do well. Read through their online reviews for additional insight. Use these insights not to copy what they're doing, but to really develop your own unique differentiators and positioning. What makes you different from & better than your competition?
Tools & Channels to Support Your Marketing Planning & Business Growth
There are a number of 'tools' to leverage in your planning stage and implementation. Here are a few of those tools and channels.
Networking/Relationships—go where your market is and exchange information between you and others. Get to know the needs and wants of other providers, and try to find an avenue to help each other.
Direct Marketing—just like email, print is not dead. The key to doing this effectively is really knowing your audience and honing your message. Use personalized letters, flyers, brochures, postcards to get your message in front of your ideal audience.
Advertising—consider both digital and offline advertising opportunities. To avoid wasting money, only spend your ad dollars where you are confident your audience will be. Digital advertising is easier to monitor and adjust on a daily basis, while print ads are a one and done - and must be chosen wisely. Be sure to incorporate some sort of tracking to gauge effectiveness, whether that be a unique URL you can point them to or a special promo code for them to use.
Training Programs—increase awareness of your services by offering free online or offline training or educational programs for your customers.
Free Media—write articles for news media and blogs with similar audiences to increase the authority and credibility of your brand and practitioners. Enhance patient communication with a professional e-newsletter and leave printed copies in the office for patients to take home or share with family and friends.
Public Relations—consider sponsorships that align with your services and audience, host events, offer tours, or hold open houses for prospective patients to get to know you and your facility.
Website—nearly all consumers are using the internet to gather information on their health care options and support them in their decision making process. Ensure your brand has a professional, updated and engaging website.
Inbound Marketing—there are many ways to start the conversation with prospects online and offer value before they even connect with you directly. Inbound marketing is a way to attract your audience, without forcing information on them. The best way to do this, and attract those organic visitors, is by creating valuable, helpful, interesting content on your website pages and blog posts.
Marketing Automation—designed to develop strong connections with customers by providing them with personalized information based on explicit and implied characteristics, marketing automation allows you to take your marketing to the next level. Free up resources and stay in constant communication with prospects and patients with targeted and automated campaigns.
Now, some more planning 'Do's'...
Set a Budget: Now that you have evaluated the different tools and channels, you can decide which is best for you and set your budget realistically. Remember, marketing done right is an investment in the longterm growth and success of your business - not an overnight win. While there are some tactics that deliver immediate results, most efforts will take time to have an impact.
Build your Creative: Turn your ideas into the creative product that will support your plan. Keep referring to your vision and strategy to ensure that the creative concepts support your ultimate objectives and properly represent your brand.
The down and dirty Do’s and Don’ts Checklist
Here are some quick do's and don'ts reminders as you begin to build out your creative assets and implement your campaigns.
Do keep your information factual—Always use reliable sources for any information, statistics or facts you use in your health & wellness content, citing sources where applicable.
Don't use too much humor—While humor or light heartedness can certainly be an element of your brand voice, use humor strategically & sparingly when discussing health & wellness topics that may be sensitive subjects to many of your readers.
Do write with your audience in mind—Create content your readers will find relevant to their lives, valuable and entertaining or educational.
Don't overly self-promote—Keep the self-promotion to a minimum and instead, use your content to inform and educate your readers.
Do keep it consistent—Keep things fresh and regularly update content. The more consistent you are, the more likely your audience will come to expect, and look forward to, your information.
Do use social media—Social media can be the perfect way to connect with potential and established patients in a space they use consistently and regularly.
Don't violate any HIPAA guidelines when using social media. Remember not to mention patient names or post photos without clear guidelines and releases in place.
Need help with your health & wellness marketing strategy or execution? We're here to help. Contact us today for a complimentary Discovery Session.
*This blog post was originally published on December 12, 2015. Updated on March 3, 2020.