In contrast, planned projects were often completed under budget and ahead of schedule. And changes to the project’s scope only affected 7% of the budget — half the amount from unplanned endeavors.
This is all to say that having a marketing plan can help you succeed, stick to your budget, and complete tasks on time.
So, what do you need to get started?
The 7 core components of every medical marketing plan
Most marketing plans are divided into 7 sections. You may divide into even smaller categories or add new ones, but these core components will ensure you have the essentials ready to start marketing:
- Your objectives: Here, you’ll want to list your overarching goals.
- Market research: What does your niche market look like where you live? For example, if you are a chiropractor, you’ll want to make a note of existing practices, how they advertise their services, and where there are gaps in their strategies.
- Patient research: Who are your ideal patients, where do they get their information from, and how do they select healthcare professionals?
- Brand positioning: How do you want to represent yourself and your practice? This initial messaging will help you ensure all of your marketing efforts align with your goals.
- Strategy: What tools do you want to use to get your message across, what is the general time you estimate spending on these activities, and what is the budget? You may want to make 3 TikTok videos a week explaining common gastrointestinal diseases and potential solutions, with a link back to your website blog for more information. Or maybe you’ve decided it makes more sense to run periodic Facebook ads. Essentially, this covers anything from email marketing to local SEO, Google Ads, PR, and more.
- Budget: You’ll want to provide a brief overview of your budget for all activities. Generally, you’ll want to split budgets up into monthly or quarterly allotments to ensure you don’t run out of money while testing your strategies.
- Metrics: Finally, you’ll want to know what success looks like. This can be as simple as how many leads you expect to get over a time period or whether your website ranking on Google has improved.
In addition, you’ll want to consider how HIPAA compliance and other potential regulations will interact with your marketing efforts.
5 steps to writing a marketing plan for a healthcare practice
You can draft your healthcare marketing plan on a piece of paper, a word processor, or even with spreadsheets.
1. Define who your patients are
Also referred to as describing your “target audience,” this step is the most important one of all. Every other decision you make will be based on your patient’s expectations.
It can be helpful to list common attributes your current patients have in common. You may even ask them what social media networks they use or how often they read health content online.
For new practices without patients, it’s possible to create a user “persona” to start with. Depending on your specialty, you can reverse engineer your ideal patient.
- Why would they visit your office?
- What are their common problems?
- Would they have insurance?
- How would they prefer to interact with the office?
2. Develop goals based on market and patient research
Next, you’ll want to combine research into your local market and healthcare digital marketing benchmarks with your patient profiles. These 3 items can help you develop specific and realistic goals.
For example, a speech therapist might see that other speech therapists are not blogging about specific conditions, but patients seem to self-diagnose and look up tips online. This healthcare professional may decide to post once a week, answering common questions in hopes that they can increase website traffic by 5% and get 4 new patients a month.
Keep in mind that you’ll also want to determine what’s reasonable for you. Marketing is an essential part of business, but you are a healthcare professional first. You may choose to outsource certain tasks to other members of your team, but it’s always important to choose goals you can realistically carry out.
3. Link your goals to your marketing platforms
High-growth medical practices will have a website, social media channels, and streamlined patient communication tools. It’s important to consider how your goals will use all of your available tools and whether or not you may need to invest in new techniques.
For example, you may have a website with a PDF intake form for new patients. But what if you offered online intake forms that patients could submit from home? Could that improve not only the acquisition process but also retention?
Simply making certain aspects of your patient’s journey easier — such as appointment booking, onboarding, or asking questions — can improve traction.
As a result, you may want to list some of these sub-tasks you can accomplish that will support your goals.
4. Determine your budget
No matter the size of your practice, you can always find marketing tactics that will work with your budget. But having a set budget ahead of time will prevent you from overspending and from selecting your strategies wisely.
How much should you set aside? In healthcare, marketing budgets tend to hover around 7% of patient revenue. But this isn’t a hard or fast rule. Your budget should, however, make sense for what you want to do. It should also factor in potential returns.