Healthcare marketing planning: the three starting points
In this blog we often discuss practical healthcare marketing action steps you can take to improve your business: How to increase the number of enquiries we might receive. How to get more appointments. How to get more patients through the door. How to get more referrals? These discussions often lead to suggestions like developing a website, email marketing, SEO, conversion rate optimisation, paid search, social media marketing, telephone training, consultation training, or customer service training.
But before all of that. You need to have the basics right. You need a healthcare marketing plan.
Although healthcare marketers face a myriad of decisions when preparing a healthcare marketing plan, these decisions may be summarised as two fundamental tasks:
- They must identify, evaluate and ultimately select a target market
- Once the target market has been selected, they must develop and implement a marketing program designed to satisfy the chosen target group
The choice of target market, probably the most important decision facing a healthcare marketer, is based on recognising the differences among consumers and organisations within a heterogenous market. That choice, will also need to considered in the context of who you are competing against. However, selecting a target market must follow an understanding of not only the competition. You must first understand the environment for marketing decisions.
1. Conduct an environment analysis
To conduct this analysis, find the answers the following questions:
- What is the current political and legal climate as it relates to the business I am in?
- How might current economic conditions and trends may affect my business?
- How will available or emerging technology affect my business?
- How might socio-cultural aspects of my market influence my decision to target a specific market segment?
Once you have completed this background analysis, you are then ready to define your target market. This is a process known as healthcare consumer analysis.
2. Conduct a consumer analysis
This process aims to answer the following questions:
- Who are the customers I am trying to serve?
- What market segments exist?
- How many consumers are there?
- How much do they buy and why?
- Who are my core customers, what do they have in common, how many are there, why do will buy from me?
- If I could devote 100% of my time to just one type of customer, who (specifically) would it be? What do they “look” like?
- What are the 5 biggest problems / pains / issues of my ideal customers?
- What is the buying process for the target customer?
- What does the buyer “look” like and think about?
- Where are they? Where do they congregate?
- Who else touches them? (how can I leverage those relationships)
- Who are the “closable”, high-yield customers?
If you don’t have a healthcare marketing plan for your business, you can use the questions above to start formulation one. Most of the questions above will require you to conduct market research to find the answers.
3. Conduct a competitor analysis
The answers to the above questions need to be then considered in the context of the competition. Now you can conduct a healthcare competitor analysis. This process aims to answer:
- Who are my ideal customers doing business with right now?
- Why are my ideal customers doing business with my competition?
- What is my competition doing that is keeping my ideal customers from coming to me?
- What value does my ideal customer perceive my competition is providing which is keeping them from buying from me?
- What are 5 variables that differentiate me from the competition?
- How is my competition different from / superior to me?
- How am I different from / superior to my competition?
- What is my competitive advantage? (Unique Selling Proposition?)
Find out everything there is to know about your competition. Look at your competitors’ website frequently. Get copies of their brochures. Conduct mystery calls on them. Visit them and check out the image they portray.
With the above three pieces of information:
- your environment
- your consumer
- your competition
You will have the necessary context to start the process of healthcare marketing planning.