By Mike Milligan, President of Legato Healthcare Marketing
How comfortable are you identifying what service lines to communicate?
Let’s take that one step further ... How confident are you in determining when – and where – those service lines should be promoted?
Throughout my career, I’ve seen many rural health marketers, CEOs and other C-suite staffers make educated guesses about the “what, when and where” of service line prioritization and promotion. But with all due respect, I’ve also seen how those guesstimates led to marketing missteps, misspends and missed opportunities.
I bring this up because there may never be a more crucial time for rural hospitals to maximize their marketing dollars. We’re all keenly aware of pandemic-induced initiatives to cut costs and drive revenue. To do that, marketing initiatives need to be right on the money – the right audience, the right message, at the right time – period.
Here are a few steps to help get you started on the right path to fully maximize any size budget, especially those with limited marketing dollars:
- Conduct research: Determining your marketing path of action first requires research, including:
- Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA): Identifies key health needs and issues. (Here are some helpful resources.)
- Market research: This can be done casually or in focus group format; on your own or through a PR or marketing firm.
- Situation (aka SWOT) analysis: Analyzes your hospital’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities.
- Competitor analysis: Research your competition online and in the community.
- Prioritize service lines: Research results will help you determine areas of focus. As you develop your marketing plan, weight your priorities. This will allow you to focus resources based on profitability, access, growth and how each priority aligns with your strategic plan. Service line prioritization includes:
- Aligning decisions with your strategic plan.
- Ranking service lines by tier:
- Tier 1 = 60%: Specialty areas to market now.
- Tier 2 = 30%: Services that will make a significant impact on your organization’s bottom line.
- Tier 3 = 10%: Areas of opportunity in the future.
- Set goals and develop a marketing plan:
- Identify both business and communications goals.
- Gain consensus among leadership: Goals need be established and agreed upon before any planning can occur.
- Develop strategies and tactics to reach goals.
Don’t stop here
Get details about reviewing your market, identifying business goals, and following best practices for budgeting and service line prioritization. Download Making the Most of Marketing: YOUR PLANNING GUIDE, PART ONE.