All big ventures that are meant to add value to your life, require a plan. You go on a vacation – you have a plan. You build a house – you have a plan. Want to retire – you have a plan. If you just simply want to go to the grocery store – you have a plan. Imagine going to the grocery store without a plan. The result? Overspending on a car full of groceries that you don’t actually need and will never be able to eat. Sound familiar? In case you aren’t convinced, here are five reasons why you need a marketing plan:
- Stay within budget. Know what you can financially afford to invest into your marketing and develop your plan based on that. Without a marketing budget, it is easy to overspend or worse – not invest at all because you are not sure where you stand with your marketing budget. It is recommended that practices invest 4-6% of their previous 12 months’ collections into their marketing.
- Know when to say yes…and when to say no. Dentists are prime targets for any and all advertising companies, especially the yellow pages. This isn’t bad, this just presents you with multiple ways to invest your marketing dollar – choices that can feel daunting. At the end of the year, evaluate all of the opportunities that came your way and see where they fit in the next year’s plan. This way you are sorting through the advertising clutter only once a year! Also, I want to let you in on a little-known secret – that same advertising opportunity will be there next year! Your chance to participate rarely ends 24 hours later. Exceptions to the rule may be a chance to advertise in a magazine where you were named “Best of…” Again, knowing that is a possibility, you can plan for it at the beginning of the year.
- End the fire drills. Hold yourself and your team accountable for the marketing objectives you have set out to accomplish. With a plan, everyone is clear on what marketing activities are in place and when they need to happen. Having a clear plan with a timeline will help the practice to be prepared instead of pulling something together at the last minute. Last-minute fire drills rarely end with positive results. Strategically planned and executed marketing events will give you the greatest return on your investment.
- Track the results. A plan you stick to will allow you to better track the results. Your plan will help you to know and understand your level of engagement with the marketing. You can look to see what has been done so that you can run the reports from your practice management software to see how many new patients you received.
- Make your message heard. Make sure you are marketing to the right people. Potential patients need to see, hear, feel and/or experience your message 5 to 7 times before they are willing to act on it. A plan will help you determine where to place your marketing message and to make sure that it is targeting your specific audience the appropriate number of times. It will also keep you laser focused so that you are focusing on quality repetition of one cohesive message as opposed to the shotgun approach.
Sit down with your team and determine your budget, message, and ways to get your message out. Write your plan and goal – activate it. When you do, you will be on the path to reach your goals!