Strategic Marketing: Can It Take Your Practice To The Next Level?

By John V. Guiliana, DPM, MS

Assessing Local Demographic Trends And The Competition

After you have looked at your practice internally, it is time to look outside of your practice. Learning and understanding your market is vital to the success of your practice. An external analysis will allow you to gain insight into the communities you service. In evaluating your demographic area, you will see where and how your practice fits within your community. Accordingly, your demographic analysis should include the following:
   •    general overview of the area;
   •    population/age median;
   •    cost of living/income data;
   •    employment/unemployment;
   •    payer mix; and
   •    competitive analysis.

   Indeed, it is vital to know your competition. The key to success is finding ways to set your practice above and apart from the competition. Emphasize your practice’s strengths and opportunities, and capitalize on your competition’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. However, do not get too caught up in what your competition does. Carefully evaluate the marketing strategies of your competition but stick to your own strategic marketing plan. Be proactive, not reactive.

   In regard to the competition, identify where the competing practices are located, how many physicians they have, and their strengths and their weaknesses.

How To Define Your Marketing Mission Statement

Then reflect on the data you have collected. By defining a mission, goals and objectives, you will lead your practice in the direction in which you want it to grow.

   The mission statement identifies the core values of your practice. It should only be one to three sentences. As for goals, devise a general statement about the purpose of the plan. Goals point toward a level of productivity that the practice wishes to achieve without mentioning specific actions. The objectives consist of a statement that contains the “operating characteristics” that you wish to change such as patient load, earnings and profitability, increase in surgery, etc.

Inside Insights On Emphasizing Priorities For Your Marketing Plan

Once you have collected all of the data and established your direction, it is time to piece things together into the strategic marketing plan. Other tools are also important. Consider the following priority items.
   Create and implement a strategic marketing plan. This plan will be the “bible” of your marketing efforts. It contains all the data you have compiled, your goals and objectives. It is vital to put everything in writing and make people accountable. Without having the plan in writing, it holds no merit. The plan should entail every aspect of marketing and you should monitor and update it annually.

   Create a marketing coordinator position. This is either an internal staff person or you can outsource the position. The marketing coordinator not only provides insight into your marketing plan, but he or she is in charge of implementing and monitoring the marketing imitative.

   Create print materials. You will need an office brochure that tells people about your practice, the physician(s) and your services. This will allow you to mail information to new patients and distribute information regarding your practice at health fairs and send it to payers, etc.

   Create a practice Web site. Patients are becoming more and more computer savvy. If they are looking for a new physician, they want to research the doctor to make sure he or she is credible. Patients also want to research their injuries, diseases and disorders. By giving them a resource, you look credible to patients, referring physicians and the general public.

   Create a practice newsletter. Newsletters are a great way to reach patients, referring physicians and payers. They can inform people about your practice and provide information on any innovative procedures you may be incorporating. Newsletters provide a great education tool and foster a positive public image.

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