DIY Marketing Part 4: Strategic marketing plan execution
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
DIY Marketing Part 3: Strategic marketing plans for growth
Executing the strategic marketing plan (SMP) and overall marketing improvement plan (MIP) is the toughest part of any engagement with a client. Usually, team members are energized by the creative process of evaluating the situation and brainstorming about new strategies and tactics to turn things around. Executing the plan requires focus, diligence, hard work and time.
I follow a variety of training and coaching strategies and execution best practices when working with a client to improve census.
In our industry, most organizations do not have the resources to provide sales and marketing training to their teams, and most individuals who work in admissions and marketing positions have had little in the way of formal training. Administrators are not familiar with the skills and knowledge required to be successful admissions and marketing professionals. Nearly all of our engagements with clients begin with training.
Developing Healthcare Referral Sources provides individuals with the sales skills they need to develop and maximize relationships with healthcare professionals such as case managers, physicians and others in numerous settings in the healthcare market place. Participants learn how to get through the gate keeper to schedule appointments with targeted professionals, how to handle the initial sales call and how to maintain contact with a professional without being a pest.
In Maximizing Census through Lead Generation, participants learn successful marketing strategies and tactics as well as how to craft a strategic marketing plan and develop competitive advantage messages.
These first two programs are designed to help teams develop the key skills and knowledge they need to increase qualified leads/referrals.
In Converting Referrals into Admissions, participants learn the sales skills they need to engage prospective residents and motivate them to choose their facility or service. The goal of this program is to help individuals increase the number of referrals that convert into admissions by improving their ability to get tours, conduct tours, follow up, close and handle objections.
The Administrator as the On-Site Marketing Manager is a program designed (as the name suggests) to develop administrators’ sales and marketing management skills.
Strategic and tactical coaching is a critical leadership function that helps individuals translate knowledge and skills learned during training into real situations with professionals and prospective residents and families. We use several coaching techniques when working with team members, including:
Modeling: Interactions with professionals and prospective patients and families are demonstrated in their entirety for team members so they can see how the skills taught in training are applied to real-life situations. Team members are encouraged to provide feedback as if they are a coach. This part of the modeling technique results in team members comparing what they observed during the customer interaction with what they learned in the class room.
Observation and feedback: In this technique, the coach passively participates in the interaction with the customer and then provides feedback on the performance of the team member. Administrators are encouraged to observe interactions with customers regularly because they have in-depth knowledge of their facilities and services and can ensure that their admissions/marketing teams are educating customers properly. I encourage leaders to remember that coaching should be a positive experience; criticism that is not balanced by their observations of what went well with a customer contact is demoralizing and results in team members being less receptive to feedback.
Strategizing and follow-up: In this technique, the coach strategizes with team members about upcoming customer contacts and then conducts a debriefing on how the customer contact went and then provides feedback and suggestions for improvement.
5 BEST PRACTICES FOR EXECUTION
I encourage the following best practices to help you and your team remain focused on the MIP/SMP:
1. Communicate your census goals to the entire team
A very successful administrator once told me that buy-in from all of your team members is critical to reaching any goal. Although all of your team members can’t participate in the creation of the MIP/SMP, they should be aware of your census goals.
2. Keep department heads involved in the MIP/SMP development process
Your plan to improve census should be created with the participation and buy-in from all of your department heads. Your department heads usually have contacts in the market whom you may want to target for development. Also, nearly all of your department heads will have a part in the successful execution of marketing tactics such as open houses, special events and tours. I am particularly excited when I see food service departments catering lunches for physicians’ offices and other special events. Department heads who are not committed to your census goals and the strategic marketing plan can and will undermine their successful execution.
3. Hold weekly, monthly and quarterly marketing meetings
Once your plan to improve census is created, hold regular meetings to track your progress toward completion of the individual action items to which your team has committed.
- Weekly meeting: At the end of each week, sit down with your marketing team and review the marketing tactics that were executed (and those that were not), review the results and discuss what is planned for the next week. Also evaluate metrics from that week. This meeting should last only 20 to 30 minutes.
- Monthly meeting: Following the end of the month, have an hour-long meeting with your entire management team. Review census, metrics and marketing tactics executed by the team. Discuss what went well and what could have been done to improve results. Discuss the upcoming month’s plan, and make changes as necessary.
- Quarterly meeting: Following the end of the quarter, have an extended meeting with your entire management team. Review census, metrics for the quarter and marketing tactics executed by the team. Discuss what went well and what could have been done to improve results. Now it’s time to re-write your plan for the upcoming quarter.
4. Observe customer contact
As the administrator, you are responsible for the successful completion of your marketing plan and the performance of your admissions and marketing team. Even if you have regional sales managers or work with a consulting service who is providing coaching services, observe contact with health care professionals and prospective residents and families. Observe your admissions/marketing team working with healthcare professionals, meeting with physicians and conducting other professional referral sources. Observe your admissions/marketing team members communicating with families over the phone, face-to-face or during tours.
By observing customer interactions, you can see how your admissions and marketing team members perform and you can provide feedback to improve their performance.
5. Celebrate success
Celebrate even small improvements in metrics and progress towards meeting your census goals. If you have a big gap between actual and budgeted census, your team members will be energized and encouraged by your celebration of their progress toward meeting the ultimate census goal. This step is particularly important because it may take some time for you to meet your census goal.
I hope you have enjoyed the DIY Marketing Blog series as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Good luck with your effort to reach your census goals. Do not hesitate to call me or e-mail me with your comments or questions.
Luke Fannon is founder and CEO of Premier Coaching & Training, Unionville, Pa., which provides sales training, marketing team coaching and strategic consulting services to providers in the long-term care industry. For more information, visit www.pctmarketing.com.
Topics: Executive Leadership , Facility management , Finance , Leadership