The old adage: “It is more important to do the right things than doing the wrong things right,” makes perfect sense when applied to marketing planning and execution.
Many people working in healthcare marketing today continue to do the wrong things very well, because they execute without a well-developed plan, and — because they have always done things this way.
The first step is to set realistic objectives. Setting objectives entails working closely with key stakeholders — your executive and business development teams. As the chief marketing person, you need to be keenly aware of your company’s business goals. In most organizations, marketing doesn’t drive the company. The company’s business goals are usually set/driven by the CEO and the chief sales officer. You cannot set your objectives in a vacuum; you must have their input.
Create Your Tactics Using Research
After you have an understanding of your company’s business goals, it is now your responsibility to create communications tactics to meet those objectives. Here, budget comes into play. If your CEO has set a goal to increase business metrics by a very large number, you must devise a marketing strategy for developing a very large number of leads for the sales department.
One methodology is to find out the percentage of leads that must be worked to close a deal in your company. If in the past, it has taken an average of ten good leads worked diligently to close one deal, use that number to develop a lead generation program that will give you the gross number of leads your sales representatives will need to meet or surpass their quotas.
Use an integrated, targeted marketing communications strategy in developing your multiple tactics for lead generation; don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
Again, budget will determine how many, and the specific types of communication tactics you will be able to employ. If you feel your budget is not sufficient to meet the task at hand, let your management know immediately. Explain your rationale/strategy and show them how you worked out the numbers to meet the company’s business objectives. If no additional funds are available, you have at least, voiced your concern.
Create a Formal, Written Marketing Plan and Execute without Fail
The next step is to formally document your plan with a time-line for executing every activity. Every critical path activity should be identified in your plan and a specific date assigned for accomplishing the task. You would be surprised to discover how many supposedly excellent marketing plans lack specific execution time lines.
Avoiding Common Mistakes When Creating Your Plan
The following are typical mistakes that marketing professionals make in creating their marketing plans, and they are easy to avoid.
Lack of prospect focus
Solution: Segment and target your prospects — develop specific marketing messages and communication tactics for each targeted segment.
Too broad and un-integrated marketing messages
Solution: Develop a small number of focused marketing messages that speak to your plan’s objectives. Integrate and consistently deliver these messages to your prospects via press releases, case studies, white papers, news articles, email blasts, brochures, newsletters, advertising, webinars, trade shows, etc. Use as many communication tactics as your budget allows.
Relying too heavily on media relations or any one medium
Solution: It’s important that your executive staff understand that allowing the media to position your company with a few news articles is not the way to market your company. A proactive PR program is important, but it is only one leg of a communications stool. You need a completely integrated marketing plan that includes everything from business cards and phone messages, to flyers, brochures, web site, email blasts, company letterheads — everything you use to communicate with the outside world should promote your brand and include your market messaging.
No measurement of results
Solution: Measure your results. Spend time determining if your plan is actually working. Count your generated sales leads. You should know how many you need; are you on track to fulfill your objective? Look at other elements such as cost per lead and sales pipeline growth. Refine your plan – “on the fly” — if it’s not on track to meet your objectives.
Having a well-documented marketing plan and a specific time line for execution will result in improved lead generation, enhanced marketplace awareness and increased closed business. If you do not presently have the in-house capability or a methodology for creating and executing an integrated and targeted marketing plan, contact River Bend Marketing. We have the expertise and industry knowledge to plan and execute a totally integrated marketing communications program for you.