The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

How to write a marketing plan for a medical practice

Learn how to write a marketing plan for your healthcare practice in 5 steps.

Colleagues discuss marketing plan for medical practice

At a Glance

  • Having a marketing plan can help healthcare practices meet budgets and deadlines, achieve growth goals, and acquire new patients.
  • An effective medical marketing plan defines the target patient, sets realistic objectives, assigns tactics to platforms like social media and websites, determines budget guidelines, and tracks metrics to optimize efforts.
  • Understanding patient preferences through surveys and research is critical for developing a patient-focused marketing strategy.

As a healthcare professional, your entire focus has been on patient care. But once you start your own independent practice or clinic, you’ll need to participate in marketing, too.

The challenge in marketing is also its greatest strength — it’s flexible. Your marketing strategy is often customized to your specific needs and stage in your business. The possibilities are endless. Thus, it’s important to have a plan. 

In this article, we’ll review what a marketing plan is, what sections are usually included, and the 5 steps you can take to create a cohesive marketing plan for your medical practice. 

What is a marketing plan, and does it really matter?

A marketing plan is essentially your strategy for acquiring new patients. And while there are many templates and best practices, marketing plans are fairly flexible. Depending on your practice size and needs, it can be long or short, detailed or concise. Many solo or new practices can even get started with 1-page documents.  

But having a plan matters. 

According to research, businesses that failed to plan adequately:

  • Went up to 13% over budget
  • Were 21% behind schedule

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.

Having a marketing plan can help you succeed, stick to your budget, and complete tasks on time. ”

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? 

Patient Perspectives Report

The 7 core components of every medical marketing plan

Most marketing plans are divided into 7 sections. You may divide yours into even smaller categories or add new ones, but these core components will ensure you have the essentials ready to start marketing: 

  1. Your objectives: Here, you’ll want to list your overarching goals.
  2. 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.  
  3. Patient research: Who are your ideal patients, where do they get their information from, and how do they select healthcare professionals?
  4. 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.
  5. 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 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. 
  6. 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.
  7. 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. ”

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. 

Optimize Operations

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? 

High-growth medical practices will have a website, social media channels, and streamlined patient communication tools. ”

Simply making certain aspects of your patient’s journey easier — such as online appointment scheduling, 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.

5. Measure success and optimize

Finally, you’ll want a clear way to gauge whether you are meeting your goals in a timely manner. In some cases, this will be as simple as saying you want to complete your medical practice website in 2 months for no more than $8,000. But you’ll likely need more nuanced data as you expand your marketing efforts.  

Some common metrics medical practices choose to track are:

  • Website visitors
  • Conversions for lead forms or booking calendars
  • Time spent on your website, also called engagement
  • Google search rankings for specific keywords
  • Open rates and click rates for emails and SMS
  • Which channel (social media, ads, organic Google search) brings in traffic?
  • Cost-per-click for social media and Google ads

All you need is Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track most of these numbers. For ads, your chosen ad platform will provide statistics for you. 

But the important thing is to do more than list the data. You will want to use these numbers as a way to find out what you should do next in your strategy.

It’s often better to look at metrics either every month or quarterly for better-quality information. ”

Should you revise the content on your website pages or blog posts? Maybe you should develop a short PDF or lead magnet to help patients better understand your approach. Or maybe you’ll discover that Instagram provides more website traffic than Facebook or Twitter. 

When measuring data, it’s also important to space out reviews. For example, it is unlikely you’ll see immediate results after posting a blog article, adding a new web page, or your first week on Facebook. It’s often better to look at metrics either every month or quarterly for better-quality information. 

What do your patients want?

Your marketing plan can streamline your strategy, make it easier to decide what tactics to pursue and allow you to define success clearly. Over time, you may find yourself revising or expanding your marketing campaign — which is a good sign. As you grow and learn more about medical marketing, you will discover what works best for you and what doesn’t.

For those itching to get started on their marketing plan, finding out what your potential patients want is the first step. You can get additional insights from Tebra’s 4th Annual Patient Perspectives Survey and discover what patients expect to see on your website, social media, and more. 

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Written by

Kelsey Ray Banerjee

Kelsey Ray Banerjee is a professional content writer in the healthcare, marketing, and finance space. She has worked in the back office of a psychiatric practice, and with family members working in mental health for 2 generations, she understands the challenges healthcare professionals face when it comes to marketing and admin. She believes access to efficient healthcare is essential for society’s well-being, and loves being able to write content that can positively impact a practice and its patients.

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