Strategic Marketing Planning

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A marketing audit is a review of all marketing activities that have occurred in your practice over the past three years. Be as thorough as possible, making sure to review every announcement, advertisement, phonebook ad, open house, brochure and seminar and evaluate whether it was successful. The purpose of market research is to draw a realistic picture of your practice, the community you practice in and your current position in that community.

With this research, you can make fairly accurate projections about future growth in the community, identify competitive factors and explore nontraditional opportunities such as offering patients nutritional counseling, smoking-cessation programs or massage therapy. Your research may even bring to light some problem areas in your practice as well as solutions you can implement right away. Conducting market research is often the most time-consuming step in this process.

Next, you need to analyze the raw data you collect and summarize it into meaningful findings that will be the foundation for determining which marketing strategies make the most sense and will get the best results for your practice The research will identify the wants and needs of your current and potential patients and will help you to define your target audience for more on target audiences, see step 5, below.

Based on your research findings, you may need to modify some of your goals. A strategic marketing plan requires that your practice be defined in terms of what it does for patients. What sets your practice apart from your competition? Do you offer a broader scope of services than the competition? Is there a service you provide that no one else in the community currently offers? Your competitive edge may lie in your style of practice, the range of services you offer, the ease of making an appointment or the way you and your staff communicate with patients.

To gather the kind of information you need to develop a strategic marketing plan for your practice, you need to conduct market research on your practice, your competition and your community. Although it will take some time to gather this information, a number of resources are available that can make the process easier for you. Much of the information you need about your own practice can be found through discussions with staff members and other physicians, or by reviewing your patient records. Here are some of the questions you need answered about your practice:.

What is the background and history of your practice? Has it been in the current community for a long time? Are there problems with scheduling, cancellations, staff turnover or reimbursement management?

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Who are your current patients in terms of their age, sex, ethnic origin, type of insurance coverage, chief complaints and where they live? What are the services provided by your practice? Who needs these services? Are these needs changing? You need to find out who your competitors are and what they have to offer.

Strategic Market Planning

To assess your competition, you need to ask the following questions:. You can find answers to the following questions by contacting your local Chamber of Commerce, your state vital statistics department or the U. Census data is available for every state, county, city, ZIP code, neighborhood, etc.: How many people live in your service area? Is the population expected to grow or shrink? What are the demographic characteristics of the population in your area? Who are your potential patients? Are their wants and needs being met elsewhere in the community?

If not, how can your practice meet those needs?

The Strategic Marketing Process: A Complete Guide

Identify a target audience. Keep in mind that your target audience should not only be the patients you want to attract but also the people who can influence and provide exposure to that segment of the population. For example, if you wish to treat patients with arthritis, you might want to get involved in the local and regional Arthritis Foundation and explore senior organizations in the community. If you want to treat young athletes, you might consider giving talks on sports safety and first-aid tips to coaches and athletes at the local high schools, colleges and YMCAs.

The key to marketing lies in targeting the audience that your practice can serve better than your competition — and communicating this to that group. Before you can decide what specific marketing strategies you want to implement to achieve your goals, you need to examine your financial information and come up with a marketing budget. Marketing budgets vary by the type of market a practice is in, the age of a practice and whether the practice has marketed before. However, in our experience, practices in open markets have spent 3 percent to 5 percent of their annual gross incomes on marketing.

If your practice is new, in a highly competitive market or has never been marketed before, or if you intend to roll out an ambitious new program or service, you can expect to spend 10 percent or more of your annual gross income the first year you implement the plan. Some of the initial marketing activities can be expensive.

On the other hand, some of the best marketing activities cost practically nothing. Big or small, these are all worthwhile investments that will give the community a positive image of your practice. With your budget in place, you can begin to define specific marketing strategies that will address your goals, reach your target audience and build your patient base. Remember to focus your strategies on the elements of your practice that can be used to create a special value in the minds of patients and referral sources.

Each strategy should be related to a specific goal and should be made up of numerous actions. For example, one strategy related to the goal of increasing patient satisfaction might be to make the office more patient friendly. The actions required for that strategy might include the following:.

Develop a patient self-scheduling system within the practice Web site to eliminate the need to telephone the office for an appointment;. Conduct post-encounter telephone interviews with new patients within three days of their appointments. Develop an implementation schedule. An implementation schedule is a time-line that shows which marketing actions will be done when and by whom. The schedule should also include the cost of each marketing action and how it fits into the budget estimates for the month period.

When creating the schedule, carefully consider how the activities will affect the current practice operations and whether there are sufficient resources such as staff, time and money to accomplish the necessary tasks. In some cases, it may be necessary to whittle down the list or postpone some activities.

Marketing Planning Process

In other cases, it might be best to go ahead with full implementation of your plan. The implementation schedule will also give you a basis on which to monitor the progress of your marketing plan. Create an evaluation process.

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The value of a marketing plan is its effectiveness, which requires deliberate and timely implementation and monitoring and evaluation of results. Review your plan periodically we recommend quarterly by comparing your progress with the implementation schedule.


There are several ways you can measure the results of your progress: If at any time you find your progress does not measure up to your expectations, you need to determine why. Perhaps the advertisement about a new service you are marketing has not attracted new patients. If the ad campaign has been carried out as directed without results, dump the campaign and try other actions. Good strategic planning should be simplified, not simplistic. The first two questions will determine the focus of your overall business while the third will help you specify your strategies to market.

The following five steps are essential to accomplishing a simple, effective strategic plan. This company was voted overall winner of the CMO Survey Award for Marketing Excellence and before that it was listed in the top marketers group for five years in a row, as reported in Forbes. This competitive advantage is due to a thirty-five year old, 3-point philosophy employed by the Apple brand.

The three points that constitute this philosophy include. Listed below are some of the main strategies used by Apple to ensure they beat the competition in marketing, placement and brand awareness and loyalty. P resent a solution for the customer to take home today. L isten for and resolve any issues or concerns. E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another. You entered an incorrect username or password. Straight to the point. Educative in every sense of the word and very practical. Thanks for posting; but would have loved some references to this lovely work.

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The Strategic Marketing Process: A Complete Guide February 4, by Anastasia 2 2. February 4, by Anastasia 2 2. Share your thoughts and experience. Subscribe Replies to my comments All comments. Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment. Thanks for posting this, really great and thoughtful material!