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How to create a marketing planAs a clinic owner, director, or manager, you know that marketing―both to consumers and referrers―is crucial to your business’s success. And as with any new endeavor, it’s good to have a plan. As Joanna L. Krotz at Microsoft Business explains, “a marketing plan gives you a roadmap that can drive action and point the way.” Beyond that, a marketing plan can help:

  • Define your audience and identify key prospects.
  • Evaluate and compare your business’s data against your industry.
  • Track results to determine what works―and what doesn’t.

Clearly, a marketing plan is crucial, so does your business have one? Whether you recently opened a new rehab therapy practice or you have an established facility, read on for advice on how to craft a marketing plan (or perhaps just revise the one you currently have) for your rehab therapy practice.

Before You Pen the Plan

You don't need high-priced consultants to develop a marketing plan, but you do need to be willing to put in some time and effort. Marketing plans address everything related to promoting your business, and in order to accurately plan, you have to do some initial research. (For the purpose of brevity, I’ll make the assumption that your practice already has a business plan and a brand identity.)

Who is your audience?

Investopedia explains that “the first step for any marketing plan is to figure out who is going to be buying the product or service.” If you have a rehab therapy practice, you probably know your answer. At the very least, you have an idea of who your services best suit. Now, take that knowledge and dive deeper―really research who your customers are. The APTA explains that your marketing efforts “will be most effective if they are highly targeted―from age and gender to income bracket and the type(s) of publications your potential patients read.”

So, to identify your target audience―potential patients―start by determining the common characteristics your current patients share. Confirm your findings by assessing the demographics of your locale. Ask referrers for their insights. Are they referring a lot of people that fit your audience description? Remember, “everything you do in your marketing plan will be about reaching this [audience] and fitting your promotional approach to their preferences,” says Investopedia.

Beyond demographics, look for answers to the following questions:

  • Why does your audience need your services?
  • Why would your audience seek out your services?
  • Where does your audience go to research or learn about the services you provide?
  • Who is influencing your target audience’s decisions?

Who is your competition?

Assess who else in your area provides services similar to yours, and think beyond rehab therapy. What about wellness facilities, yoga and pilates studios, and chiropractors? Examine how your peers market, and then compare your findings to how you market your own practice. Do you provide something they do not? How are your services different? It’s easy to look at your competition and simply copy their strategies. But I sincerely recommend the opposite:

  1. Look at what they do.
  2. Determine how you’re better or different.
  3. Tailor that differentiating factor so it’s a benefit to your prospects. (Later, you’ll incorporate into your plan how you’ll market this difference.)

What’s going on in your industry―and in others?

Marketing is all about keeping current, so make sure in doing your research, you stay up to date on current affairs. As DemandMart recommends in an article titled “Developing a Physical Therapy Marketing Plan,” “keep up to date with economic, political, and marketing trends that impact the medical community so you can maintain a proactive marketing strategy that responds to changing market conditions and practices and optimizes opportunities in the marketplace.” In short, stay hip to the news, so you’re not mismarketing your services.

What’s going on with your practice?

After you tackle all of the above, prepare yourself to develop a marketing plan by tackling some essential operational questions about your practice. Krotz at Microsoft Business suggests you “set up some brainstorming meetings with advisors you trust, such as family, friends, staff, or other professionals.” At these meetings (note that it’ll probably take several sessions), nail down answers to these questions:

  • Which marketing tactics will make your services noticeable? (Think in terms of marketing platforms as well as how to specifically present your services. For example, DemandMart suggests offering your services as packages: “It is best to focus your prices on patient goals rather than individual treatments,” so promote packages “that solve their problems and help them reach their goals quicker.”)
  • When and how often should you market your services?
  • What are your goals regarding marketing efforts? How will you measure these?
  • Considering your goals, what is a feasible budget? What is an achievable timeline? (Physical Therapy Connect recommends your marketing plan “include simple tasks you can complete every week, no matter what the patient load is.”)
  • Where do you want your company to be in a year?

Penning the Plan

Now that you’re well prepared, it’s time to put all your research and data into words. Here are steps for writing your marketing plan that I assembled from For Dummies and About.com:

  1. Tackle first things first (intro): How will this marketing plan support your overall business goals?
  2. State your purpose: What are you trying to accomplish and why?
  3. Define your market situation:
    • What are the issues that affect your patients, prospects, and audience? In short, who are you trying to reach and why? Paint a picture of your target audience.
    • Who are you up against (competition), and where do you rank?
    • What are your practice’s key differentiators?
  4. Set marketing strategies for your product, pricing, distribution, and promotion.
    • What will you specifically market?
    • What will you charge, and why?
    • How will you reach your target market?
    • What are the short and long-term goals?
  5. Outline your communication tactics: What’s the messaging?
  6. Establish your budget: How much money will you spend, and on what?
  7. Detail your action plan: How are you going to achieve your goals with your budget?
  8. Measuring results. How will you measure the effectiveness of your action plan?
  9. Define opportunities for long-term market development: What’s on your radar that isn’t part of your current goals and action plan?

Talk about a lot of info! But we got through it. What questions or advice do you have about researching and writing your marketing plan? Share in the comments below.

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