The benefits of planning
Is your approach to marketing more reactive than proactive? These days, it’s probably not enough to wait until you are quiet before you ping an ad into the local newspaper. Besides there are many more exciting opportunities. It’s time to make a plan…
Consumers tend to need to see the same message in multiple places before they act, so by using social media, email communications, waiting room posters and ads, you can reinforce, remind and encourage action. But if those things all happen at different times, the message becomes diluted. Think about what your focus should be each month and build all your communication around it.
Look at seasonal events and opportunities, awareness days and what services and products people are most interested in at certain times of the year. Being attuned to your client’s needs and wants is really important and ensures your message is relevant and hits at a time when they are most interested and receptive to what you have to say.
Suppliers like Lintbells spend a lot of time developing campaign materials that are designed to appeal to your clients and that are available to launch at the time of peak interest. If you are planning on taking part, be aware that most campaigns don’t ‘switch on’ instantly and it can take people a while to react by booking an appointment or asking for advice. Plan the lead up to the main event with your communications so that each campaign gets off to a flying start.
Produce a spreadsheet with the months of the year and plan in all the events you would like to take part in or the practice campaigns – such as a mobility clinic, or senior pet check – that you want to develop and the month when you would like to focus on them. Once you are happy that you have a topic (and that could last for 4 weeks or 8 weeks or even quarterly) then think about how you can support it – on social media, your website, external advertising or PR, event, waiting room merchandising and emails. Attribute each activity to a person.
You may also want to define a few objectives or targets – for example see a 10% increase in the number of clients asking for help with improving their pet’s mobility. Think about some things that you can easily measure and make sure your practice management software is set up to record it.
Have a list of the 3-5 key messages you would like to communicate and the actions you want to encourage. Make sure that all members of the team know what they have to do to support each topic. A brain-storming session can be really useful to generate new ideas and get everyone behind your plan.
Stay on track…
Consider whether there needs to be a budget behind any of the activity – for instance to boost Facebook posts or buy a competition prize. You should be able to set a budget for the whole year after breaking it down by activity. If you plan to spend on advertising, by booking all the ads up-front, at the best time to fit with your plan, you can often negotiate a better deal compared to one-off panic or impulse buys that don’t fit with your overall strategy. Be careful to record any over or under spends and adjust your budget to stay on track through the year.
Sounds like a lot of work? Make sure that you don’t overload your schedule. Your plan should be achievable for the time and money you have available. Overall a good plan should help you maximise the time you have available, be cost effective and generate the best results for the effort involved. Good luck!