Ask ten healthcare marketing professionals, “What’s the No. 1 thing I should do with my marketing efforts?” and you’ll get ten different answers.

Some might say, “Know your target audience and create personas.” Others, “Study your competitors and differentiate.” Still, others might ask you to take a closer look at your brand message and service offerings.

The truth is a marketing plan requires of all of these — and more. That’s why partnering with a marketing agency is one of the smartest investments you can make to grow your practice. An agency will analyze your existing data with you, then develop and implement strategies to help you attract new patients and nurture existing ones.

One methodology marketing agencies use to guide planning is called SMART, first outlined in a paper published by George T. Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company. SMART is used to clearly define plan objectives and expectations and keep the focus on achieving clearly defined goals. The acronym stands for:

Specific. Instead of saying, “We want more subscribers, say, “We want 100 new subscribers to our health blog in the next 90 days.”

Measurable. Make sure you can measure progress you make toward your goals. It’s the only way to know if you need to tweak your campaign. Instead of setting a broad goal of increasing appointments, be specific and start with a baseline. Try something like: Increase new patient appointments from 50 per month to 75.

Attainable. Set realistic, achievable goals. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Ask: Can we accomplish this goal? Is this goal too far-reaching? Some sources also say the “A” stands for assignable. Who will implement the marketing plan?

Relevant. Is your goal worth the investment of time, energy and resources? Ask: Is this the best time for this campaign and the goals we’ve set? Does this objective coincide with other goals set by the practice or hospital?

Time-related. Decide when your campaign will start and end. How often will you check progress?

That’s just a glimpse of one marketing tool a marketing partner can bring to the table. The important take away is you don’t have to tackle the planning process alone or depend on just one tool that may not be the right one for you. We can help. Reach out to us and let’s get started on your healthcare marketing plan.