How to Write a Marketing Plan
Hopefully everyone spent the last part of last year deep in
strategic planning, developing a targeted marketing plan that will allow you to
year your best year ever. But for any of you who may be a bit behind on
this process, I’d like to simply and
plainly examine what it means to write a marketing plan. In all reality,
this process can take months. It takes collaboration across the organisation.
It often requires buy in and budget approval. But for our purposes, I’d like to
start at the most basic level of each of the steps – because you have to start
Consider Your Current Situation
The mistake I most often see when dental practices begin writing a marketing plan is that they immediately START; they don’t take the necessary and important step of analysing their business’s current situation. You have to consider market trends and the state of the economy. Are spending habits of consumers going to change? Are technological advances going to make some services more or less desirable? You must look at competitors and what it is they are doing. Are my competitors doing anything new or exciting? Have other practices identified ways to attract new patients? Make sure you understand your financial situation. Will your lease end this year? Do you have loans that are due? I truly believe that you cannot know where you are headed if you don’t know where you have been, and a situation analysis will give you the solid foundation you need in order to begin constructing a marketing plan.
Know Your Patients
Chances are, you don’t have one kind of patient. In your practice, there are probably young families who like to come together and who have many other interests, older couples who like to come earlier, business clientele who demand after work appointments or at best, to be seen on time so as not to impact on their busy day. Although it may be the same service – dentistry – the same marketing is not going to be effective on such a variety of patient groups. You need to be able to segment your patients, your customers, at least loosely, so that you can market to them in a very specific way so that they feel their unique needs will be met through your business. If you don’t know who your customers are at each level, it will be impossible to develop a successful marketing plan.
What are your goals?
You shouldn’t create a strategic marketing plan because it’s what a business is supposed to do; rather, you should do it because you have goals you want to meet. Do you want to attract new patients? Retain current patients so they are more loyal? Do you plan to open a second practice? If you have considered how you want to grow your business, your marketing goals should be a direct reflection of the larger overall goals. You could also consider improving upon existing strategies such as use of social media platforms, but you also might want to consider entirely new concepts like advertising on city buses or providing feedback cards or refer a friend cards.
Develop a Plan
Believe it or not, once you have reached this step, most of the hard work is behind you. If you know where you have been (situation analysis) and you know where you want to go (defining your goals), all your strategic marketing plan has to do is connect those two items. Identify the different platforms you plan to use – advertising, social media, email marketing, etc. – and define how you will use each platform to market to the different patient groups. List any new initiatives you plan to take on throughout the year and the steps required. Define your budget for marketing initiatives and clearly state who in the business is responsible for what. Your strategic marketing plan should be detailed enough that it can serve as a roadmap for your business; if anyone has questions about what the practice wants to achieve and how they want to achieve it, they should be able to refer to the plan.
Implement and Review
We have talked a lot about the fact that nothing changes if nothing changes, so once your plan is set forth and approved, CHANGE! Begin implementing the strategic plan immediately. Make sure everyone understands it’s importance and their role in the process. Allow others to take responsibility where they can, but always make sure you are actively involved. Be sure you review your plan monthly or quarterly; don’t wait until the end of the year to determine whether or not it was successful. Regular review of your strategic marketing plan will allow you the opportunity to make changes if something doesn’t seem to be working, further guaranteeing your end of the year success. A strategic marketing plan shouldn’t be a static document that sits on a shelf in the office; it needs to be a living, breathing piece of the practice that guides marketing efforts but also has the ability to change as the business changes.
Now, I will be honest: I wish it were THAT simple. But it is a starting point! One of the most important parts of this process is surrounding yourself by those who have both experience and expertise in this field. It’s not too late to get that strategic plan set for this year. I encourage you to call me today at 07860 476 358, and together we will get to work!