Three healthcare experts provide insights into what makes for a great marketing plan.
In a perfect world, marketing plans would be living, breathing documents. They should not ever be seen as “complete” as plans should be updated and growing continuously as circumstances change. I prefer mine in PowerPoint with a comprehensive Table of Contents that hyperlinks to the various pages. While they should be comprehensive, the best plans are able to be distilled down very simply to a few slides as an executive summary—the essence of the brand. The “must-have’s” include a “Brand on a Page” that clearly states the Brand Vision, Target Audience, Unique Selling Proposition, and Positioning. A second key slide is the Strategic Imperatives that identify the opportunities or issues that the plan will address. These should be three to five key strategies that are to be addressed with tactics or initiatives over the next one to three years.
I also like a tactical roadmap that highlights the types of tactics that execute against these strategies laid out over a 36-month calendar. Pricing Strategy, Market Landscape, and SWOT analysis are also must-haves in the executive summary.
In my experience, the most important element of a successful marketing plan is a firm grasp of customer segmentation, targeting, and product positioning. Ironically, it is often the most overlooked element of a marketing plan as many marketers often jump straight into marketing tactics like promotion or pricing without thinking first about having established a more strategic foundation. Ultimately, marketing plans will be doomed to fail if they are not grounded in a thorough understanding of your segments and insights of your target customers.
The single most essential element of a marketing plan is market research. It’s the backbone and foundation to any successful plan. Ensuring that market research equals reality is job one. Properly and thoroughly done, it allows you to identify key needs of the market and any current trends—empowering your plan to be exactly aligned with those particular market needs.
One additional important piece of this puzzle not to overlook is the feedback from your salesforce. They are on the ground and your closest contact to your accounts. They are able to provide a unique perspective into what tactics are able to answer market needs and whether or not they are effective and useful in their selling process. No matter how strong a marketing plan looks conceptually, it needs to be in line with what your reps need.