Setting up a business in any line of work requires careful planning. In order to expect clients, a business must advertise their services in some fashion. Marketing is a necessity for all client-based corporations, and healthcare service companies are no exception. Successful marketing, in turn, requires careful planning, and as Joel Ellis of Practice Builders, Inc. states, “if you plan nothing, then ‘nothing’ is what you will accomplish” (Ellis, 2009). In other words, having a marketing strategy isn’t just necessary, it is your business, as it makes up a large portion of the tasks required to keep your business afloat. Healthcare providers heavily rely on referrals and even word of mouth. Accomplishing this requires communication between one’s company and those of one’s peers, establishing a network of healthcare providers that ensures that any given client will see their needs met. But one has no business to begin with if one has no marketing plan.
In formulating a marketing plan, every healthcare provider needs to consider making the proper financial investments, since no amount of preparation is particularly meaningful without it. Without adequate funding, there is not a lot a company can do in order to raise awareness of the company’s services and therefore it would be most difficult to gain clients. Financial concerns should be addressed first, but one must understand that the risk being taken in creating a business strategy does not only potentially place a company at risk financially, but the very reputation of the company itself is on the line, so it is highly recommended that one devises a plan that is designed and applied with the utmost care. In formulating a marketing strategy, the planning and execution phases are a given. But the process does not merely end with the “execution” phase; one must continue to log the progress of the marketing campaign as it is being applied. This is known as the “tracking” phase. As a business professional tracks his or her marketing campaign; keeping track of its effectiveness, reach, and impact, it may be necessary to make the proper adjustments to the marketing campaign in order to ensure its continued effectiveness. This may include changes in direction or expansion of clientele (e.g., making adjustments for non English-speaking clients, etc.), expanding upon the company’s message or outreach, as well as adapting the company’s marketing campaign to current trends and current events. As this process develops over time, it is increasingly important not to let one’s guard down and miss opportunities for further growth and development. This is to say that marketing is an ongoing process, and while it is useful to have a formula for how the company will continue its marketing campaign, this formula, too, will have to be adjusted and expanded upon as time goes by, much like “amendments” to one’s marketing campaign’s “constitution”, if you will.
There are three distinct strategies addressed in Ellis’s YouTube presentation (2009) concerning marketing strategies; Ellis describes these strategies as the three “layers” of marketing: internal marketing, external marketing, and professional referral (Ellis, 2009). Internal marketing is basically a strategy that involves marketing one’s services to the company’s own employees as a way of determining the effectiveness or favorability of a potential marketing campaign before it is released to the public. In short, this method is merely a practice run, a test being performed on internal employees, treating the reactions and opinions of said employees as those of the public (a sort of “mock” marketing campaign, if you will). This process is essential to the role of management, as it would be favorable to gain the approval of their subordinates before releasing the company’s campaign to the public (Hargie & Tourish, 2004). External marketing is the second phase of executing a marketing campaign in which the aforementioned campaign is finally applied and hopefully begins to draw in clients. This method is also known as “direct to customer” (Ellis, 2009). Professional referral, the third strategy, has to do with the network of partners in healthcare provision in which providers are able to refer to and be referred by their peers in the business in order to meet the specific needs of clients who could be best served by other healthcare providers within the company’s network. The reason why it could be beneficial to refer clients to another office is that one’s partners are obligated to return the favor, and thus, it is a mutually beneficial partnership in which clients find a plan that best serves their needs and healthcare providers continue to reach new clients. This process remains effective as long as the proper balance is maintained and one particular healthcare provider does not end up issuing more referrals than helping clients of their own (Hirsch, 2010).
In order to execute a proper marketing plan of my own, I would try to begin marketing my own campaign internally, as it would be most efficient to learn what is most pleasing to the eyes of others within my organization. After a decent message and marketing campaign has been devised, then the financial cost should be considered. If this is a new company, one would most likely prefer to start out small, with a minimal but necessary amount of outreach so as not to lose too much money in the beginning. Once the campaign has proven to be a success early on while marketing externally, and it appears to be effective and successful, then I would take necessary action to begin expanding upon current slogans and messages, putting words into action, while making sure that the financial cost is still being kept in check in proportion to how much business is being conducted as a result of the campaign’s success. It is effective, and necessary, to consider multiple target audiences by segmenting our market accordingly so that the needs of a variety of clients are being met (Stensberg, 2013). As this is being done, I would continue to track the success of our marketing campaign(s), and make adjustments as the company itself expands, so that the message of the service being provided matches the growth and popularity of the company. This, I believe, would be the most effective way to ensure the stability and prosperity of the company.
Ellis, J. (2004, June 26). Why Your Healthcare Practice Needs a Marketing Plan. Practice Builders, inc. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KclSAM7U76I
Hargie, O., and Tourish, D. (2004). Handbook of Communication Audits for Organisations. London Routledge. London, England.
Hirsch, L. (2010). The Three Cs for Winning Professional-to-Professional Referrals. Healthcare Success Strategies. Retrieved from: http://www.healthcaresuccess.com/blog/doctor-referrals/the-3-cs-for-winning-professional-to-professional-referrals.html
Stensberg, K. (2013). 10 Steps to a Successful Healthcare Marketing Plan. Healthcare Communication News. Retrieved from: http://www.healthcarecommunication.com/Main/Articles/10_steps_to_a_successful_health_care_marketing_pla_9450.aspx