The DNA of a Successful Healthcare Marketing Plan

Just as DNA holds the code for how we develop and function as humans, a comprehensive strategic marketing plan contains information essential for healthcare marketing decisions and achieving healthy returns on marketing investments. Rather than chasing trends and oiling the squeakiest wheel, a well-researched, coordinated and measurable approach allows you to build a strategic roadmap for implementation.

The basic framework of a well-developed healthcare marketing plan includes:

Executive summary. This short narrative provides a high level overview of each of the major components of your plan by summarizing market opportunities and challenges, marketing goals and objectives, major initiatives and investments, and expected ROI.

Marketing situation. What is the current state of the organization or clinical program in terms of breadth and depth of services, physician alignment, capacity for growth, price competitiveness and customer satisfaction? How well is the health system or clinical service line positioned? What competitive challenges are you facing? How are industry trends and local market forces influencing or shifting demand?

Opportunity assessment. This section identifies – and quantifies – market opportunities and threats aimed at growth, profitability, customer responsiveness, physician loyalty, technology advancements, reimbursement and other competitive factors that have the potential to affect business performance.

Marketing objectives. Strategic, financial and marketing objectives should be clearly stated and quantified. What are your volume targets? Market share goals? Revenue and margin expectations? What metrics will you track to assess the effectiveness of specific marketing tactics?

Marketing strategies. This section provides the overall game plan for growing the business. It describes segmentation, strategic positioning, branding, clinical programming, contracting, pricing, promotions, sales and referral development initiatives.

Action plan. Outline your specific implementation plan to identify specific tactics, who will be doing the work, how long will it take and what resources (including budget) will be required. The answers should inform monitoring, controlling and reporting.

Sales and revenue projections. Your projections should be a stretch for the organization while remaining realistic. This section includes projected changes in volumes, reimbursement levels, revenues and operating costs as well as the projected return on the investment required to sustain the plan.

Monitoring and controls. This chapter addresses the methods for measuring progress and success. It will include things like how progress and outcomes will be monitored and reported and at what intervals, when and how often the entire plan will be reviewed and revised, and how risks will be monitored and managed.

The best laid marketing plans have a grim prognosis if administrative, clinical and other operations leaders are not meaningfully engaged or mutually-accountable for the operations and customer experience aspects of marketing. What good is a CTA leading to a broken link or call center personnel who have no information? Why try to build referrals or send patients to a practice with a two-month lag time for appointments?

Marketers are continually being asked to do more with less. Building a multi-disciplinary project team (including clinical operations, administrative functions, IT, finance and HR), whose members have firsthand knowledge and accountability in areas that are key to success, will lead not only to a better plan but to better execution of that plan as well. Use the fact that your organization is comprised of inextricably arranged cellular business units to your advantage.