The Coffey Blog

Your healthcare marketing plan: 6 questions to get you on your way

Posted on: Monday, April 16, 2018

Eric Dutton, Business Development Consultant

A marketing plan is like a road map. It spells out how you're going to get from point A to point B. It includes how long you anticipate it'll take to get there, how much you think it'll cost, and why you're making the trip in the first place.

Why are you making the trip? Because you want to position your organization as the healthcare leader in your service area. That's your endpoint. Your marketing plan is the nuts and bolts of how you're going to achieve that.

Your marketing plan can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. But there are a few key questions it should answer.

Six questions that can help shape your healthcare marketing plan

1. What is your budget? Every organization has a different budget strategy. And budgets can change from year to year. Knowing what you can spend will help you identify what kinds of tools you can use to execute your plan. Meet with your C-suite to figure out how much you'll have to play with.

2. Who are your consumers? Understanding your demographic is vital to your success. Who is your target audience? What are their behaviors and preferences? This kind of market research is going to help shape your plan. So before you start planning in earnest, learn as much as you can about your consumers. Reach out to your front-line staff to find out who typically uses your services, and then dig deep into data about your community to find out about the consumers you're not connecting with right now.

Larger organizations might have data like this on hand in customer relationship management software. You might also have data from years prior that you can simply update. If you don't have data and you don't have the budget for market research, your chamber of commerce or a similar local organization may have at least some of the information you need.

3. What are you offering them? What differentiates you from your competitors? What is your unique value to your consumers? You're trying to build a connection with them so that when they need services, your brand comes to mind.

To find out more about how to scope out your competition, check out this blog post.

4. Who are your stakeholders? This list can include patients, physicians, hospital staff, hospital clinics and other healthcare agencies you work with in your community. In general, people who have an invested interest in your organization, your community and your success could be considered a stakeholder. When you're brainstorming, you can keep this list long.

With that list in hand, think about the role each person plays in your plan. And then determine when you'll need to get input on key decisions. Our top tip: Involve stakeholders early. Allowing the opportunity to give input during planning stages can keep you from the need to revise your plans down the line, when revisions are more difficult (and costly) to make.

5. What are your goals? These can be wide and varied, but each goal should be held up to the SMART standard: It should be:

  • Specific.
  • Measureable.
  • Attainable.
  • Relevant.
  • Time-bound.

For example, one of your goals may be to have 50 health-related blog posts up by the end of the year. That's specific, easy to measure, attainable (especially with the help of Coffey's experienced staff!), relevant and time-bound.

Or your goal may be to help more people in your community control their diabetes. Bring your diabetes education team into the conversation. You could measure your success in referrals or calls to a trackable number. (Learn more about the benefits of using trackable numbers in this case study.)

6. What tools will you use to engage with your consumers? Here's where knowing the behaviors of your target audience comes in handy. What are the best ways to reach them? Is it through printed publications, digital media or both? This is a good time to reach out to an expert consultant to explore what's possible. A consultant can help you shape your strategy and may have ideas you hadn't thought of.

Get the help you need

What happens when you have an exceptional healthcare marketing plan in place? That's when the hard work begins. Now, you'll need to make those plans a reality. We can help. At Coffey, we specialize in helping hospitals, health systems and health plans reach their consumers with messages that surprise and delight. We'd love to hear about your plans and look for ways we can help. Just contact us to get the conversation started.

Related reading

How to choose a company to build your hospital's website
6 reasons to outsource healthcare marketing projects
4 reasons to create hospital website content before you redesign