By Carly Ries


Are you the marketing person for a company within the healthcare industry? Are you having trouble getting started on your marketing plan? With such a large industry, it can be difficult to decide where you should focus your efforts.

Have no fear though, below are a list of things to include in your healthcare marketing plan to keep you on track:

1. Product and Services Audit

I cannot stress this enough: know your products and services front and back. Your marketing will be so much better, and your life will be so much less stressful, if you know the ins and outs of your products and services. Create a matrix that aligns the product with their target persona (see below). Who uses the product and services you offer? Why do they need it? What problems does it solve? How will trends in your industry affect your products or services? By ensuring your have a clear understanding of what you're offering and how each product or service works, you'll be better able to market it effectively.

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2. Clearly Defined Buyer Personas

Knowing your buyer personas can make or break your marketing efforts. Be sure to define them in your plan. A buyer persona is a is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers (HubSpot). Do your homework. Talk to your existing customers. Review current marketing trends and see where your site visits and customers are coming from. Read industry news. Do what you can to know who these people are and create the persona. This persona will be the audience you target in all of your marketing efforts and how they communicate will affect your messaging, visual assets, and every other piece of your marketing.

Remember, it is extremely important that you hone in on your area of the healthcare field and learn your niche. There is a large difference between targeting “clinicians” vs “infection preventionists in the state of California.” Get specific with your research and know who you are targeting.

NOTE: Often marketers think they should be targeting medical professionals, like nurses or doctors. While this may be the case for some, you need to take a look at who is making the business and purchasing decisions at the hospital or office. Who will be buying your products and services? That’s who you want to focus on, which may be a businessman more than medical staff. Just something to think about.

3. S.M.A.R.T. Business, Marketing and Sales Goals

SMART is an acronym that means Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. When you start to create goals for marketing, or when you get information from other team members about business goals, push to make sure they are SMART. For example, a marketing goal may be that you want to increase leads. Simply stating that you want more leads isn't enough. A SMART goal would be: Increase inbound leads by 13% MoM by the end of 2015. Not only will smart goals be easier for you to track, but you'll also get credit when it comes time to report to your team. They will better understand what you're trying to achieve and how what you're doing is making that goal happen. Thus, you will receive more credit for doing a great job.

In addition to have SMART goals, you should also be sure that you're segmenting the goals. Your goals should be broken down into the following:

  • Business Goals
  • Marketing Goals
  • Sales Goals

Business Goals

Business goals (meaning what the entire company hopes to achieve) are important to know so that you can see the bigger picture. What is marketing doing this year that can help move the needle for the company? Markers may not always know these, so you should set up a meeting with the appropriate person to find them out. If you receive push-back on sharing this information, make sure whomever you're meeting with knows you find the goals important to prove the ROI of your efforts and that you come from a place of wanting to make a difference.

Marketing Goals

Obvious. If you don't know what you need to achieve in marketing, how can you shine for your company? When creating SMART marketing goals you may need to break them down into other components. For example, what do you hope to achieve with inbound marketing? How do these goals differ from your traditional, push marketing efforts? Do you have goals for a specific channel? More webinars maybe? More blogging? All of these goals need to be included in your marketing plan so that you know where to focus first.

Sales Goals

The key to any successful marketing team is having solid communication with the sales team. What does the sales manager need to report each month? How are the leads doing that marketing sent over last quarter? How can marketing better help sales going forward? When marketing helps sales fill their funnel with qualified leads everybody wins. So, understand the needs of the sales team, what numbers they need to hit, how long the sales cycle actually is from lead to customer, etc. Once you know this, you can include tactics in your marketing plan to help.

4. Sales Process and Lead Identification Overview

As mentioned above, you need to have a clear understanding of  how your marketing efforts currently tie in with your sales team’s efforts. When developing your marketing plan, get into details about the sales process. Include buyer pain points, best lead sources, why customers buy, common sales objections and overview of the customer buying process. It is also helpful for marketers to sit in on sales calls with qualified and unqualified leads if possible.  

Secondly, understand agree upon lead identification requirements (what defines a marketing qualified lead, what defines a sales qualified lead). Once these are agreed upon you can ensure your goals match with what the overall objective is. 

5. Current Marketing Summary and Gap Analysis

A gap analysis assesses your current marketing efforts and defines what you need to do to get to your desired outcomes. Take a look at the current approaches you’re taking to gain customers and then do an analysis of your website and see what can be improved. Look at what your competitors are doing that you can do better. Review how you are attracting visitors and turning them into leads and see what you can improve. The gap analysis will help you dictate your strategy for the year as it will open up many areas of opportunity.

In addition to marketing efforts, know what is going on within your company (product launches and such) and do an analysis to see how you can support the company as a whole. If you work with outside agencies, like a PR firm or inbound marketing agency, make sure their goals and efforts are aligned with yours and that everybody is on the same page.

6. Campaign Foundations

Before you get into the meat of your marketing plan, lay out the marketing foundations you will need to set up in order to complete the tactics in your strategy. Define what marketing platform you should use and how to set it up. Sync your CRM with this software. Set-up social accounts (LinkedIn is a great platform for targeting healthcare professionals; promote to the groups where your audience hangs out). Develop email templates. The list goes on but you get the idea. Identify what needs to happen so that the marketing efforts can commence.

7. Your Recommended Strategy

What we’ve all been waiting for! The meat and potatoes of your plan. Your strategy should be specific. If you’re blogging (which you should be), have your first set of titles and targeted keywords in the plan. Know the content you’ll be developing throughout the year and how you are going to promote it. Put together high-level strategies and then get into specifics of how you’ll pull it off. Explain the how and why based off your research. Lay it all out in the marketing plan.

8. Identify Your SMEs

Knowing who your subject matter experts (SMEs) are from the beginning will immensely help to move things along once your campaign kicks off. They will be your go-to guys when the more technical pieces of content need to be written and reviewed. They’re the ones that will check for factual accuracy and ensure the tone matches that of your audience (ie doctors can be much more formal than other audiences). Identify who these people are in the beginning.

When it comes to the healthcare industry, the most important thing to keep in mind is to be specific and know exactly who it is within the field that you are targeting. With a smaller niche, the odds of people engaging with your company go up significantly.

What else do you find helpful in your healthcare marketing plans? Please leave your comments below.

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Carly Ries

About the author

Carly Ries is a Senior Inbound Marketing Consultant for SmartBug Media. With over 7 years of marketing and account management experience, Carly helps clients develop and implement inbound marketing strategies to grow leads, conversion, and revenue. Read more articles by Carly Ries.