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As the year comes to a close and medical practices see the last of their patients of 2015, the needs and goals of the New Year begin to take shape in the minds of organization leaders. Due to the time involved in creating a strategic marketing plan, businesses often take the supposed easier approach and create a “per diem” marketing plan. While marketing in this capacity may seem easier at first glance, businesses that market this way often lack the focus needed for the kind of growth they desire. Surprisingly, they typically spend much more in marketing than if a well-thought marketing plan was followed.

Marketing without a strategic plan is like a piloting without a flight plan; you can do it, but you aren’t necessarily going to arrive where you were hoping. A comprehensive marketing strategy clearly defines a business’s desired goals for growth and outlines a strategy for how to achieve such growth. The plan also takes an in-depth look at the competition to see what can be done differently, or perhaps better, and outlines how to make that happen.

Here are five key elements to a successful medical marketing plan:

  1. Situational Analysis – A situational analysis, or SWOT analysis is a foundational element to any marketing plan. It is an in-depth examination of the company, both internally and externally. By outlining a company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT), one can create more realistic goals while clearly defining strategies for implementing the changes needed to achieve them.
  2. Market Analysis – A market analysis is a comprehensive look at the market. It includes a clear determination as to who the business’s ideal patient is. By defining the demographic, geographic and psychographic behaviors of ideal patients, businesses can send targeted marketing that resonates with the consumers they want to reach.
  3. Remarkable Difference – The remarkable difference is what makes the practice special. What sets the business apart from the competition? By clearly defining what the business does well, businesses can create more compelling marketing messages that answer the question of why patients should choose that facility over others.
  4. Core Strategy – The core strategy involves creating a plan for lead generation and conversion. This is the part of the strategy where it is clearly indicated how the business is going to market over the next 12 months. It requires that decisions be made for how new patients will learn about the practice. Some components may include a social media marketing strategy, blogging strategy, referral marketing strategy, print advertising strategy and PR strategy.
  5. Critical Numbers – An essential part of any marketing plan are the critical numbers, which details current expenses, the Cost Per Patient (CPP), and sales forecasts. This section also includes a marketing budget that defines how the budget will be spent for a specified time period.

Once a medical marketing plan is complete, it is important to review it monthly or, at a minimum, quarterly to ensure it is being followed and to make modifications as needed.

A marketing plan allows businesses to clearly chart a path toward the growth they want to realize. By taking a comprehensive look at the business as a whole, organization leaders can omit needless spending and devote precious marketing dollars towards initiatives that will generate results.