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Ten questions to ask when planning your online marketing strategy

What Clinic Leaders & Marketing Managers Are Doing Now to Shape 2021 Online Marketing Strategy

As 2020 comes to a close and we look ahead to the new year it is important to be thinking about your online marketing strategy, and to outline what projects you would like to accomplish and what goals you hope to achieve. Follow along as we walk through ten questions you should ask before planning this strategy to help ensure your most successful year yet.

Plus, download the strategy workbook containing those ten questions and more to help you quickly and easily prepare to plan your 2021 online marketing strategy.

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Video Transcription:

Welcome back, it’s Ryan Miller again with Etna Interactive and regardless of how uncertain the world or the economy may seem right now, our teams are still relying on us to set a clear direction for 2021. For many of you, right now is the time that you’re approaching strategic planning—some formal, or informal exercise in which you identify some goals and some specific directions, projects that you may tackle, and some objectives that you hope to conquer in the new year.

Now what is very often overlooked during that strategic planning process are the inputs that you can give to your marketing team, whether that marketing team is an internal group or an external agency, so that they can align their activities with what you hope to achieve for the broader practice.

The thing that we need to acknowledge is based on where you are, the size of your enterprise, whether you’re a single location or a multi-location office, whether you are solo or a part of a large group, whether you are new to practice or you’ve been practicing for many years, you will likely have very different goals than any other practice in the market, or in the world. For that reason, we want to ensure that your marketing strategy is carefully tailored to what it is that you hope to achieve.

The thing that we have to acknowledge, that’s sort of the dangerous thing lurking right below the marketing waters, is the truth that most approaches to online marketing are cookie cutter. It’s a single service line, it’s sold the same way to every clinic regardless of size, and for most clinics—especially those that have been in operation for a number of years—those just aren’t appropriate to ensure that you’re successful, and grow to your maximum capability.

We’re going to ask you ten questions, the first question I’m just bringing up on the screen now, and the good news is this—we’re providing you with a worksheet that you can use to answer many of these questions independently on your own and be better prepared when it’s time to sit down and debrief your marketing team.

How much more revenue do you want to generate next year?

First one is this, how much revenue do you want to gain, how much do you want to generate in the new year. You can express it to your team in a variety of ways, the one that is going to be most useful is in absolute dollars. As you might imagine, if you hope to grow $200,000 or $2 million, a very different level, or intensity of marketing will be required to help you get there.

Which locations, providers or devices have capacity to fuel that growth?

The second thing to think about is where you have capacity to grow. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been involved in marketing planning sessions where the physician owner of the clinic was insistent that all marketing focus on their procedure specialty when their calendar is 100% booked, but there are other members of that particular office who are undersaturated. Look closely, there might be a device, or a new procedure that you really want to drive demand for. There may be an individual provider in your office who is presently undersaturated, or a whole location that really needs specialized attention.

If you could grow demand for only 5 services, which would you choose?

Now it’s a difficult thing to do especially in clinics with a large menu of service, but it’s a truth about online marketing that you can’t grow equally in every direction. It’s important that you step back and ask yourself, if I could only grow demand for five specific procedures, what procedures would I focus on. Now you might choose procedures based on personal preference, the profitability of that procedure, the satisfaction of the quality of outcomes that you can deliver for patients. Any one of those is a valid reason, but you need to make a choice to give your team a direction on where they should focus first.

From what territory will you attract your new patients?

Now in addition to that, you need to be thinking about geographic focus. If you’re in a larger metropolitan city and you haven’t yet saturated visibility a very easy decision is to say, I’m going after my own backyard. But for clinics that are located in suburban or rural markets, where the way that they can attract the largest number of patients is by marketing to lots of smaller cities and neighboring towns, that’s a completely different strategy to go after multiple cities to lift overall volume in a rural market. Be thinking clearly about where you want to go and how you can secure that growth geographically.

What planned events or seasonal activities do you need to address?

Beyond that, there’s an important opportunity to remember that you may need to reserve resources to support larger planned events. So take a look at your calendar, if you have an open house that this year has probably gone virtual, or a large Black Friday event, or spring sales, ultimately depending on the nature of your operation, you’ll need to be sure that you earmark a position in your budget to get ample resources to make sure that next year is your most successful event ever.

Who will perform the work in each marketing channel?

Now, it’s a good time to stop, pull back and ask, who’s going to do the work. Assess the skills of the people on your own team, and based on the things that you’re trying to achieve you’ll be able to clearly identify early any gaps that may need to be supported by outside agencies or specialists.

How’s your reputation?

How is your reputation? It’s an important one to bring in because it’s an easy topic to overlook, and yet it may be one of the most important areas in online marketing today. Reputation is a huge influencer, not only on those people who have been referred to you by word of mouth, but also people who are newly searching for procedures and have never been expose to your clinic. We know that today the majority of patients will consult your online reputation before choosing you for their procedure.

How would you rate your channel performance?

Now it’s an important opportunity to step back and try to get as objective as you can about rating the performance of each of your online marketing channels today. If you don’t consider yourself an expert you may find this difficult, if that’s the case write us a note and let us know, we’ve got a benchmarks guide that you can download that will help you perform this exercise. The idea here is just to go step by step, look at your application of the channel, and ask the question, could we or should we be doing better in this particular channel. Now if you don’t know information about your return by channel, obviously that’s going to be a challenge, so one of the first conversations you need to have with your website partner is how do you get the channel-level tracking that will allow you to assess your return on investment for each individual area in which you’re marking online.

Where will you innovate?

A couple of final questions that are meant to be mental exercises because ultimately practices that are stagnating are at risk of dying. You need to ask yourself, where will we innovate, where will we do something new in the new year that will give us a strategic advantage as we go into the future. For many clinics today, this is about refining their approach to virtual consultations, recognizing that this is going to be a new and permanent part of the operational landscape, so how do we do that even better than anyone else in our market. Others still are looking at things like ecommerce, or introducing new or novel procedures. So have that moment in time where you step back, look to the future and do a bit of prognostication.

What can you automate to enhance efficiency or patient satisfaction?

The other area, and it’s really just a subset of innovation, but it’s very specific and targeted is asking questions about automation. Well we need to be getting more and more efficient every year, so what are we doing today manually that we can ultimately do automatically in the new year. Are we manually sending out patient reminders, well maybe we need to automate appointment reminders. Are we requiring patients to come in with paper forms, well maybe we need to deploy a patient portal. Are we manually transferring information from one piece of software to the next, well maybe we need a project that’s about introducing customer relationship management software, and integrating that with practice management so there’s no more double entry. There are lots of things we can do that can save time and drive efficiency inside the clinic, those are just some examples in the arena of marketing, there’s examples like that everywhere if you look around your practice.

Those are the ten questions that we want you to focus on, we have a copy of that book that’s available at the blog post associated with this video, you can download that quickly and easily and answer those ten questions. We want to wish you good luck in your 2021 planning, and of course if you have any questions, you can reach me by email at [email protected].

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