The landscape of how patients are engaging with healthcare providers and organizations is drastically changing. Patients are now actively playing a larger role in managing their health, resulting in a consumer-focused shift in the healthcare industry.
This shift is causing healthcare providers to evaluate their marketing efforts, in particular, their marketing plan in order to differentiate themselves from the crowd.
One of the greatest challenges we see healthcare organizations face in terms of their marketing is bridging the gap between creating the marketing plan and executing that plan. Many times healthcare organizations have a beautifully polished, well-written, creative plan with complete details, but then sits in the drawer of a desk and does not get implemented.
Therefore, it is critical that your marketing plan is properly executed in order for your organization to thrive.
Before we dive into the implementation process, it is important to define the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy.
Your healthcare marketing plan is the framework that includes your business summary, marketing budget, your target market and target customers, and the strategies and tactics to achieve the overarching organizational goals. A marketing plan is typically revised annually and is intended to be a living document that is constantly evolving as you execute the plan, gather data on its efficacy, and course-correct for maximum impact.
The marketing plan is the high-level view of what you plan to do and why that course is going to support the organization’s overall goals.
The marketing strategy, on the other hand, answers the question of how you are going to achieve your goals and the tactics that follow. In other words, your strategy is the roadmap you are going to take to get to your desired destination.
The strategy includes the actual tasks and parameters of what your marketing team will do in order to make progress for the organization.
For the purposes of this article, let us assume you have a well-polished marketing plan that you are ready to execute. Here are 5 steps to consider when implementing your new healthcare marketing plan.
What resources do you have available to you within your organization? Internal resources could include administrative staff such as a marketing department, clinical staff, physicians, and specialists, as well as the knowledge and expertise that everyone brings to the table. Your resources also include any advanced technologies you have that can help you differentiate your organization.
Once you are clear on your internal resources, identify the external resources your healthcare organization already has access to or relationships with, such as print vendors, outsourced consultants, graphic designers, and content writers.
With a clear list of your available resources, you can begin to identify gaps and bring on the additional support needed to fill those gaps.
If your healthcare organization is large enough to have its own marketing department, consider whether your current marketing team is able to successfully implement your healthcare marketing plan or if you need to hire additional talent.
Conversely, if you do not have a dedicated department, does your current staff have the ability or bandwidth to market your organization properly or will you need to outsource the execution?
Whichever path is better for your organization, consider assigning a manager who is responsible for the success of the implementation of your marketing plan. A successful implementation includes knowing the unique talents and abilities of each team member and ensuring the right tasks and responsibilities are assigned appropriately.
The manager should also oversee a marketing calendar that tracks the action items that need to be completed within each strategy. It is essential each person takes ownership for their part of the implementation for a successful delivery.
Your healthcare organization’s marketing materials should support the overarching brand strategy. A common mistake healthcare organizations make is creating marketing material solely focused on the specialty or service being offered. Rather, all materials should focus on the organization’s brand.
For example, if your hospital has recently implemented a telehealth tool, then promote the convenience and quality of care it will provide the patient.
Furthermore, the messaging within all of your marketing materials must be consistent through all print material, digital marketing, direct mail programs, print media, and online platforms. Deciding on a unified message or concept will support a well-executed marketing plan so that the series of strategies and tactics you deploy work seamlessly together.
Lastly, as HIPAA violations are always a concern for healthcare organizations, consult with your designated HIPAA professional to ensure you are compliant should you choose to use examples of patient success stories or imagery of your facility in your marketing material.
Once your plan, tactics, and messaging are finalized, create a communication plan that identifies your target audience and the channels in which your message will be delivered. Overall, your plan needs to generate excitement and result in company-wide buy-in on your side.
Then, communicate your plan to your chosen team members and ensure each individual understands the importance of the implementation and how he or she will play a critical role in the success of the plan.
As with any plan, it is also important that you define the results you want to achieve and provide feedback loops for your audience.
A good marketing plan must start with baseline measurements, also known as key performance indicators (KPIs). Since marketing is always evolving and moving, measuring these same KPIs regularly will tell you whether your marketing tactics are successful or not.
If your data is showing stagnation or even a downturn in efficacy, make adjustments to your plan and attempt new strategies.
Data tracking requires having the right tools set up within your marketing system. For example, if you are using a direct mail campaign, tie the call-to-action of your direct mailers to a landing page where you can measure traffic, bounce rates, and clicks. Google analytics is a powerful, free tool that can help organizations better understand their marketing initiatives.
Is your healthcare organization implementing a strategic healthcare marketing plan? If you are concerned about the efficacy of your marketing, get in touch with us. John Lynch & Associates can help you put together a marketing strategy, marketing plan, and a well-equipped team to execute that plan.
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