With the exit of the holidays and the dropping of the Times Square ball, it’s time to dust off your 2012 Marketing Plans and update them for 2013. A marketing plan (as you know if you’ve read my other blogs) is a road map that your organization will be following to achieve its goals and objectives for revenue growth. In other words, a marketing plan is a description of the activities you and your team will execute to grow or maintain your business’ top line.
One piece of advice for would-be marketing plan preparers is to evaluate previous marketing strategies and tactics to determine what has worked and what hasn’t. If a strategy/tactic works, expand on it!
Clients frequently ask me what criteria I use to measure whether a strategy or tactic works. Determining whether a marketing program works can be tricky, especially when you consider that some successful strategies and tactics generate leads directly, while others generate leads indirectly.
Let’s look at the three ways you can measure the success of marketing strategies and tactics and some real-life examples of these.
1. It generates inquiries/leads directly. Perhaps you host a special event to educate the public about Alzheimer’s disease, and attendees express an interest in becoming a resident or client. Or, perhaps you target a physician for referral development, and your efforts result in new referrals.
2. If you stop the activity inquiries/leads go down. Many strategies and tactics may influence prospects to inquire about your organization. But, when asked how they heard about you, their response is an “everyday” response, like “I’ve been driving by your facility every day for years,” or “by word of mouth. I’ve had many family members use your services.”
Here are a few examples for you to consider: When I was at a major assisted living provider, we were having difficulties justifying the value of the advertising we were doing because we didn’t see leads generated directly, at least based on what prospects were saying when they inquired. After looking at our word-of-mouth and “everyday” leads, we started asking one additional question at the point of inquiry: “Have you seen one of our ads in the newspaper recently?” Roughly 25 to 30 percent of prospects said they had.
A client providing independent and assisted living on one campus also was struggling to justify its advertising. We evaluated their referral patterns over a 12-month time frame and found that peaks in inquiries were preceded by an aggressive advertising plan. We also concluded for our assessment that periods of low inquiries always followed periods when advertising had been suspended.
This is a very important concept for nursing homes and Medicare-certified home health agencies to keep in mind because a significant percentage of their referrals are generated by healthcare referral sources. Therefore, the impact of advertising, public relations and special event programs can be difficult to measure. However, successful marketing tactics influence the patient or family to choose your facility to meet their needs. For example, one of my nursing home clients stopped offering blood pressure screening programs at senior centers in the community and saw its referrals from hospitals fall by six to eight per month.