Everyone knows that planning is an important part of creating an effective healthcare marketing program. With so many changes in healthcare, it’s easy to place planning on the back burner. But because of these changes, it’s all the more important to establish a comprehensive marketing action plan for your hospital as the blue print for the year. So be sure to set time aside for you and your team to develop your marketing action plan together.
1. Stick to your priorities – You can’t market everything. It’s important to clarify and stand up for your priorities for the year, especially with your tight budget. Your marketing action plan should be based off of the hospital’s strategic plan, which will guide you in how to strategically and tactically disperse your marketing budget. Comb through the strategic plan and pull out any goals and objectives that marketing can support and affect. Sift through available data to analyze what’s working and not working and optimize your precious dollars accordingly.
Always remember: less is more. It’s much more productive to invest your budget in fewer, more effective campaigns than to stretch your budget thin and create small projects for every single program. Remember, the rule of thumb is that it takes an average of 7 impressions for someone to actually hear a message. Keep this and your priorities in mind when program directors come knocking at your door for a new brochure or doctors call demanding they appear on a billboard like the hospital across town. Because in the end, it’s you who will be measured on marketing ROI for the year.
2. Set clear goals – Make realistic and measurable goals for each marketing campaign. This will allow you to track the progress of your campaigns with tangible results to share with the ETeam for marketing program substantiation. Examples of a few clear goals include:
a. Increase the number of new patients by 10% by the end of the year.
b. Increase website traffic by 10% within 6 months.
c. Achieve or surpass .16 CTR for Google AdWords within 6 months.
3. Strategize – Brainstorm the most effective marketing strategy for each established goal. If you have an ad agency partner, this is often the time to get them involved as you determine which campaigns you will handle in-house and which ones you could use some extra brain power. Consider the best avenues to get your message across to your target audiences. Is it a social media campaign? A community event? Digital ads? Pandora? TV? Or a combination of all? Learn the advantages of each advertising strategy (or consult a healthcare marketing expert) to help you learn best practices. And remember to repurpose all of your material via blogs, your website, etc. for added exposure and cost-effectiveness.
4. Make a flowchart – Once you’ve outlined your strategies, create a calendar flowchart showing each program and marketing tactic to occur within the year. Color code your chart and distribute it widely to all team members so everyone has a clear picture of the year ahead, due dates, responsibilities, run dates, etc. Keep this tool close at hand and don’t be surprised if you find yourself accessing it daily. This simple step has an amazing ability to relieve the stress of feeling like you must have every detail of every campaign etched in your memory. Now you have the peace of mind to answer those myriad questions you get daily (“How many weeks did the Cancer digital campaign run last February?” “When did our Google AdWords start for da Vinci last year?”) without missing a beat.
5. Create a dashboard – It’s critical to have an ongoing tally of your marketing program effectiveness, especially with a limited budget. Creating a dashboard allows you to record, track and analyze your marketing metrics monthly. Plus, understanding what’s working and not working can help you optimize and maximize results along the way to stretch those limited dollars.
Here’s an example of the marketing metrics dashboard that we provide for our hospital clients:
Be proactive. Not reactive. Recent budget cuts can be overwhelming. But you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed and anxious when you have a strategic marketing action plan in place. Gather your team and create a detailed plan today.
Find more suggestions on how you can overcome hospital budget cuts.