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DIY Marketing Part 3: Strategic marketing plans for growth

July 8, 2013
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Editor’s note: For the prior segments of this blog, please see:
DIY Marketing Part 1: Assess thyself
DIY Marketing Part 2: The 4 elements of the Marketing Improvement Plan

When I talk with organizations and individuals in long-term care about marketing plans, the reactions range from blank stares, to eye-rolling, to comments that strategic marketing plans are a waste of time. I have had similar feelings throughout my career, because in many organizations marketing plans are busy work designed to demonstrate to someone (usually above us in the pecking order) that “we’re doing something” about our census challenges. But strategic marketing plans (SMP) can have tremendous value to a facility or community if created and executed in the right way.

If you’ve followed the previous parts of this series on DIY marketing, you’ve already completed your analysis of your situation. Be sure to have the analysis, metrics and other information available during your SMP brain-storming session. I like to involve key department heads with SMP brain-storming sessions because their input can lead to crucial buy-in from the facility’s leadership team.

The 4 Elements of a Successful SMP

Every successful SMP should have these elements: Goal(s), Objectives, Strategies and Tactics.

1. Goal(s): Usually a facility or community has one primary goal—its budgeted census. In some cases a skilled nursing facility might have budgeted overall census and budgeted skilled census as their goals. Census defines top-line success for an organization and it is very difficult for a facility to achieve budgeted profitability without achieving budgeted census. Your goal should be a specific round number such as 120 overall average daily census or 40 skilled average daily census. Don’t use percentages, since they are too hard to convert to your objectives. (More on this is a moment.)

2. Objectives: These are specific and measurable milestones that indicate progress toward the goal. For example, referrals serve as an objective that helps a facility reach budgeted census. But that’s not the entire story when it comes to objectives. Typically for any facility we are looking to the community’s marketing metrics we described earlier in this series: admissions, discharges, conversion ratio and referrals. As a real-life example, here are a client’s actual metrics and marketing plan goals:

Skilled average daily census:

   Actual: 29.5

   Goal/budgeted census: 25

   Difference: -5.5


Details                                Actual      Objective

Admissions per month:        11.5          17

Discharges per month:        11.0          11

Length of Stay:                        30            30

Conversion Rate:                  .34           .34

Referrals per month:             34            50


How to calculate the objectives:


Luke Fannon

Luke Fannon is founder and CEO of Premier Coaching & Training, Unionville, Pa., which...