As the current year nears its end, it is the perfect time for businesses to begin strategizing for the year ahead. It is also an ideal time to audit what worked and didn’t in 2017.

Most small to midsize healthcare organizations function without a marketing plan. This often results in a higher marketing spend with less effective campaigns. Even if you do not have the time or resources to develop a comprehensive medical marketing plan, you can implement some of the more essential features of one. Here are five things you must know about your business in 2018.

  1. Understand Your Competition – A competitive analysis is a time consuming, research-heavy process that is extremely important for any business. It involves not only knowing who your direct and indirect competitors are, but how and what they are doing to reach new patients. Remember that someone who is an indirect competitor can become a direct competitor; so always keep an eye on them.
  2. Track all Leads – A common challenge for many businesses is proper lead tracking. It is more than merely asking patients how they heard about the practice on a form or over the phone. It is taking that information and loading it into a database and then pulling a report of your lead sources every month. The information gleaned from this report will provide clarity as to what is working and what isn’t in your marketing efforts. If you find that something is not producing good results, move those marketing dollars to a different tactic.
  3. Know Your Cost Per Patient – I am amazed by how many businesses do not know their cost per patient (CPP). Determining your CPP is well worth the effort as it will help you determine ROI for any marketing campaigns as well as set appropriate budgets. If you are spending $1000 on an ad in the newspaper, how many patients does the ad need to bring in for you to break even? How many are required in order to make a profit? Knowing this will help you determine what tactics are effective. More tips on measuring ROI can be found here.
  4. Know Your Remarkable Difference – When I am getting to know a new or prospective client, I ask a lot of questions. I work very hard to understand who they are and how they are unique. When marketing a medical practice, it is essential to define how you are different from the competition. Why should a patient choose your practice over another? What can they get from you that they can get nowhere else? If you have nothing that sets you apart, make 2018 your year to be different. Knowing your remarkable difference is very important for your marketing efforts as it affects your messaging. It affects what prospective patients hear when deciding where to go for care.
  5. Set a Marketing Budget – Set a Marketing Budget – Based on the four other steps, you should have a clearer understanding of what you need to do to market your healthcare business efficiently. To ensure you spend your hard earned money wisely, set a marketing budget. Many companies dapple a little here and there when it comes to marketing, never really knowing what works and how much they are spending. If you set a budget and allocate specific tactics to that budget, while also tracking the efficacy of each tactic, you have a higher likelihood of success.

Creating an extensive marketing plan takes considerable time and effort. It also requires Intel that may prove challenging to acquire. There is no better time than now to gather the information needed to make smart marketing decisions for the New Year.