As doctors and medical office managers, you may hardly get time off from managing medical office operations. After all, catering to the patients, supervising the staff, staying up-to-date on new developments in the medical industry, and managing the clinic is no easy job. There is one thing that often gets overlooked – MARKETING.
Though most doctors have invested in medical online marketing in some way or another, as the stiff competition compels them, there is usually no particular plan, direction, or goals outlined. They understand marketing but are more or less oblivious to its deeper nuances, ergo overlooking one of its most significant aspects, which is a marketing plan.
As a doctor, you need a comprehensive, realistic medical marketing plan before launching your medical marketing campaigns. A plan provides a direction for action and ensures that your goals and objectives are met. In addition, it helps manage risks in events of unforeseen circumstances. This article discusses everything you need to know about creating a medical marketing plan in depth. So let’s dive in.
Every business needs a marketing plan, and medical practice is no exception. Without a plan, you are shooting arrows in the dark. If you think your medical practice is too small in size and scale to make elaborate plans, you couldn’t be more wrong. So let’s quickly understand why a medical marketing plan is integral to marketing success.
Without a plan, you would be shelling out money without knowing what results to expect. Your medical marketing can be termed successful only if you maximize investment returns. Creating a plan means you have to list goals for your practice, such as attracting 25 new patients per month or increasing website traffic by 200% in a certain period. A plan eliminates guesswork and ambiguity, keeping you focused on the actual KPIs.
A marketing plan enables doctors to manage resources efficiently. With a marketing plan, you have clarity on what marketing activities you would invest in and the budget required to fulfill your goals. Time and money are saved as the marketing plan outlines every course of action in detail, preventing anything that could lead you off-piste.
When you invest your time in creating a marketing plan, you can ensure that your marketing will stay consistent. Without a plan, your marketing may go through peaks and troughs, resulting in inconsistent performance. A plan distributes marketing activities throughout the year with clear goals and KPIs defined, compelling you to stick to the marketing plan and spend wisely rather than making impulsive decisions.
Marketing is an all-encompassing term that includes various activities to reach the target audience. As doctors, choosing from an endless list of marketing channels and tactics may be challenging. Marketing can be classified into two broad categories – traditional and digital. Should you invest in traditional, digital, or both? We have summarized the key differences between both types of marketing in the table below.
|Traditional marketing requires heavy investment.
|Digital marketing is comparatively inexpensive.
|Results aren’t measurable in traditional marketing;
|Digital marketing gives precise, measurable results.
|Precise targeting isn’t possible;
|Granular targeting is based on demographics, interests, and behavior
|Ads, once launched, can’t be optimized in real-time;
|Ads can be optimized in real-time to maximize profitability.
This was all about the key differences. But here are a few important statistics that will settle all debates on the most effective marketing type.
With the global internet penetration increasing rapidly, digital marketing is the way for doctors. While some portion of the budget can be set aside for traditional marketing (10-15%), the rest must be allocated to digital marketing.
Returning to the main question, what does a medical online marketing plan look like, and how to create one? Creating a medical marketing plan entails several steps. It is made for a specific period with specific goals in mind. A marketing plan is a blueprint for your further course of action and keeps you on track. Let’s understand the essential components that make a medical marketing plan.
As the name suggests, it’s a summary of your marketing plan. An executive summary contains a gist of your marketing plan, highlighting the main elements such as budget, channels, KPIs, and strategy. It gives a quick overview of what is exactly contained in your marketing plan, giving you a clear idea of how the marketing would pan out.
If you have hired professional medical marketing services, the agency in charge will create an executive summary outlining all the important details. There is no ideal length that one needs to stick to for an executive summary. The purpose is to encapsulate the marketing plan in a short, crisp manner. The summary will give you a sneak peek into the detailed contents of the marketing plan.
One of the most important benefits of digital marketing for a medical practice is its granular targeting capabilities. But this benefit can be leveraged only if you define your target market and patient persona. As a doctor, your target market is essentially prospective patients residing within the proximity of your clinic. But who exactly is your ideal target patient? This is where creating a patient persona comes into the picture.
For example, dentistry is a vast field with specializations like pediatric, orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry, and more. Your target audience may vary for different medical services, creating different patient personas. A patient persona is a fictional representation of your most ideal patient. You pinpoint the age range, gender, and other demographic and psychographic factors, which can help you tailor your marketing for the ideal target audience.
The next step is to define your marketing objectives clearly. Be specific about what you intend to achieve. A doctor with a well-established practice will have goals different from those just starting. A particular and realistic goal would be: “Attract 25 new patients per month”. “Increase website traffic by 250%”, “Increase social media followers by 300%”.
Digital marketing for doctors will bear tangible results only if you define your medical practice goals well in advance. One thing to keep in mind is that your objectives must be realistic and genuinely help your medical practice grow. In short, your objectives need to be SMART:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Relevant to your practice
T – Time-bound
The next step would be to define the key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are tied to your marketing objectives. Tracking the right KPIs is the key to measuring marketing success. Depending on your medical marketing objectives, KPIs could be anything from the number of clicks for a paid ad, the open rate of emails, the number of clicks converted, and the number of prospects visiting the website, among others.
KPIs give insights into marketing results, informing you of progress and accomplishments. With a medical digital marketing company by your side, you can track the right metrics and utilize these insights for campaign optimization in the future.
In the end, everything boils down to budget. You need a marketing plan that fits your budget and brings tangible results. Your marketing spending will depend on your medical practice’s growth stage. Newly established medical practices may need to shell more money to create awareness and outperform rivals, and well-established practices may need to focus on building loyalty. After examining each channel’s effectiveness and relevance to your practice, money should be allocated across different marketing channels.
Medical industry has emerged as a competitive sector in the U.S. As you create a marketing plan, you must have a fair idea of how your competitors perform. This is because marketing tactics vary in response to external factors such as competition. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors can help tailor your marketing to address patient pain points. Examine the marketing tactics employed by other doctors and identify their strengths and weaknesses. A thorough competitor analysis can help you capitalize on competitor weaknesses and hit the bull’s eye with your marketing.
Your pricing strategy could have a significant impact on your marketing success. If your medical services are expensive compared to competitors, no amount of marketing may help. Poor pricing decisions will get in the way of attracting new patients to your clinic. These are a few different pricing strategies that you can adopt.
Whatever pricing model you choose, you need to analyze whether those prices would help you sustain and earn profits amidst competition. Understanding what positioning you wish to have for your practice can help you choose the right pricing.
Your marketing would be spot on only if your message is right. Marketing messaging refers to what you convey to your target patients. You need to identify and capitalize on your USP and craft your marketing message. Medical marketing messaging is not just about what you say but how you say it. Your approach to messaging would affect your marketing to a large extent. Hiring a medical marketing agency can help create marketing messages that resonate with your target market.
You have figured out all the medical marketing channels you would utilize to accomplish your goals. Now, it’s time to jot down the tactics you would implement through these channels. You must first understand your medical practice growth stage as the tactics vary depending on whether you are new or well established. If you are starting, your SEO efforts would be more focused on creating new content and optimizing GMB listings, among others.
Likewise, social media posts and paid ads would revolve around awareness campaigns. Determining the right tactics could be a bit overwhelming without professional assistance. Hiring a Healthcare digital marketing company will help you craft a promotion strategy that suits your unique medical practice goals.
Building a digital presence doesn’t mean you utilize every marketing channel. You must choose marketing channels depending on your niche and target audience’s behavior and interests. While the list of marketing channels may seem endless, here are a few channels that every doctor would unarguably benefit from.
Medical SEO marketing (Search Engine Optimization) refers to website optimization for top search engine rankings. Most patients look up medical practices on the web before fixing an appointment. If your medical practice doesn’t come up during an online search, you lose your patients to competition. SEO is a must-have in your marketing plan.
Medical online advertising means running paid ads on search engines and social media channels. PPC for doctors is a cost-effective tactic to boost awareness and brand recall. Medical advertising success depends on the right keyword targeting that capitalizes on high search intent. Medical SEO paired with advertising can bring incredible results to your medical practice.
Social media is growing exponentially and serves as a solid platform for building a strong relationships with patients and prospects. Social media opens doors to connect with patients beyond the usual treatment hours and stimulates positive conversations around your medical practice. With a blend of paid and organic posts, you can amass loyal followers and build trust with social media marketing for doctors.
Email marketing is a highly affordable marketing channel that every doctor must include in their plan without a second thought. There are 4 billion global email users worldwide, and email remains one of the most effective means to reach the target audience. If done right, it can generate an average return of $36 for every $1 spent. That’s undoubtedly higher than most other marketing channels.
Content marketing is your savior if you want to stand out from competing for medical clinics in your area. Content marketing doesn’t sell services; it demonstrates doctors’ expertise in their niche, establishes trust, increases customer return rate, and builds a robust medical brand that stands out in the local market. Doctors can engage with patients by addressing their pain points and questions through various mediums, whether an Instagram reel on their social media page, blogs posted on their website, or infographics and podcasts.
Once you decide on the ideal mix of channels as the core of content marketing, you need clarity on the marketing materials you would need, such as a website, ebooks, direct mail, landing pages, and infographics directed toward the target audience.
Marketing matters to doctors more than before as the medical industry gets more competitive yearly. Marketing is not about launching a few campaigns and expecting patients to turn up at your clinic magically. It requires consistent efforts, and creating a plan is the first step to achieving that consistency.
A medical marketing plan is a roadmap to achieve your set objectives quickly and flawlessly. There is more to marketing than spending on ads or investing in social media. For matters related to healthcare, trust is a huge factor, and a solid marketing plan will help you build that foundation.
A medical marketing plan must be flexible and customized to your medical practice. While the steps discussed above would help you start your marketing plan, spearheading your medical practice’s marketing efforts single-handedly can be a humongous task. A template approach to medical marketing would only set you up for failure and lose your edge and reputation.
Hiring an in-house team wouldn’t be the most appropriate decision, considering salaries, employee benefits, and other expenses incurred in the long run. Outsourcing to a full-service marketing firm specializing in medical marketing would be a massive cost-saver as you gain access to cutting-edge tools, industry expertise, and customizable services.