Marketing is more often, than not, viewed as one of the less important factors of a medical practice. However, a Marketing Plan will provide a medical practice with a systematic approach to creating services which will meet the needs of its patients.
The Marketing Plan should comply with the SMART principles – specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and timely and be incorporated into the practice Business Plan. (If you currently do not have a Practice Business Plan this will be covered in my next D-Brief).
The best starting point for the Marketing Plan is to conduct some market research, which will require compilation of materials already produced by the practice throughout the year (e.g. advertisements, patient surveys and questionnaires, practice brochures, stationery and website). Review the current materials along with retrieving information from your practice management system which will allow you to identify the following;
• Who are your patients (your practice software should give you patient demographics) • What are their needs and wants (Patient surveys/ questionnaires)
• What services do they expect your practice to provide • What do they think of the practice and its products/services
• How did they dome to be referred to your practice (Yellow pages, website, friend, GP referral) By producing a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis based on the information compiled, along with information on your competitors, you will be able to identify target markets to direct your marketing dollars.
This can be as simple as an in-house brochure or sign for the practice or a newspaper article/ editorial. Your analysis may indicate your target market is more open to radio and TV advertising, in which case further research into these avenues is warranted. Whatever road you head down, always be aware that Marketing can only do so much, it’s retaining the new and existing patients that your practice must strive to achieve on a daily basis.
Good luck and happy SWOTing!
Author: Deana Scott