This is part three of my four part series titled “SPONTANEOUS EFFORTS DON’T PRODUCE CONSISTENT RESULTS”.
In my last blog entry, I explained how to do a creative brief that describes your practice’s personality and identifies your goals. With your completed creative brief in hand, you are now ready to start writing your marketing plan. It is important to complete the following steps in order, as each step builds on the previous ones.
SEVEN-STEP MARKETING / BRANDING PLAN
1) Identify in writing who you are, your services and what makes you and your practice unique and high above the rest in 50 words or less. This and your tagline will become the email signature for all staff email correspondence. Ask your staff to memorize it so that when someone asks any of them about your practice, they will answer with one unified message. This is the cornerstone to a marketing plan that is integrated throughout your practice’s communications.
2) Identify your ideal target audience. Refer to the profile you have in your creative brief that describes the types of patients you see. Remember to focus on the audience you would most like to serve, not just the types you currently attract.
3) Decide on a budget. What are your revenue goals and what percentage of gross revenue do you want to devote to your marketing efforts? Advertising and marketing is a relatively new consideration to the medical field. Where retailers and manufacturers historically have allocated anywhere from 1% to 50% of their operating budget to marketing, up until 15 years ago, medical practices could basically rely on word of mouth referrals and phone directory listings. As you well know, this is certainly not the case today. As a general rule of thumb, I typically see 50% of a practice’s budget going to their website and search engine optimization and 50% going to some type of print or brand identity materials.
4) Have a marketing professional help you identify the right mix for you, and decide on a month-by-month plan to reach out to your target audience. This plan must be fluid to act on the input that you receive from your patients during its duration. Be sure to communicate this plan to the appropriate staff so they are ready to field calls and emails.
5) Have a professional design firm create an image for your practice that represents you perfectly. Every communication piece from your practice should be consistent and reflect the quality of the services you offer. Also, be sure this firm is aware of HIPAA and AMA marketing regulations.
6) Implement your plan and train your patients to look forward to your marketing efforts by updates to your website, e-campaigns, cards sent in the mail or a new loyalty program.
7) Track your progress, measure your success and constantly reevaluate your efforts based on feedback from your patients.
LONG-TERM SUCCESS. THE RIGHT MOTIVATION.
Following your plan will allow you to jump start your marketing efforts with a strategic eye on your practice’s long term goals instead of short term, fear-motivated fixes. While you may see immediate results from your marketing activities, achieving a balance in your marketing is really a long-term investment and like most investments, it requires patience, determination, consistency and commitment if you want to realize your desired goals. Let me encourage you to work towards creating a strategic, integrated marketing plan based on measurable goals that are right for your practice. Especially in today’s highly competitive marketplace, it’s well worth your time.
Watch for future posts where I’ll break down each step, covering the building blocks of a brand.
Candace Crowe, President, Creative Director
© 2009 Candace Crowe Design