5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
By Kelley Mulhern, DC
"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." — Benjamin Franklin
In the educational experience of most health care practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics. Therefore, when you graduate with your certificate, degree or diploma, you may be very skilled in your chosen discipline, but feel ill-equipped to run and market your health care practice. Remember, your practice is a business and must be treated as such in order to flourish.
Perhaps the single most important ingredient of a successful practice is planning. You plan the layout of your office, you plan the look and tone of your business cards and brochures, and you plan the care you provide to your patients. So, too, should you plan your marketing. It begins with a written marketing calendar.
Why Do You Need a Marketing Calendar?
Let's face it: It can be hard to obtain clients when you're new in practice. Or perhaps your practice is already fairly successful, but the task of constructing a marketing calendar seems overwhelming and outside of your skill set. Anyone can build an effective marketing plan with a little information, a few hours and some motivation. To help with that last piece, let's take a look at why a marketing calendar is important to all health care practitioners in private practice.
First, establishing a written marketing calendar each year can provide focus and consistency to your practice marketing strategy. This way, you're less likely to lose track of time or host sporadic events. Consistency cultivates trust, and someone who trusts you is more likely to use your services.
Second, a marketing calendar helps you to better manage your marketing budget. Poor cash flow can kill a practice. Knowing what events are coming up allows you to plan your finances properly and ensure your expenses are covered.
Third, a written marketing calendar allows you to best schedule your time and that of your staff, partners and volunteers. Knowing what after-hours events or high-energy activities are forthcoming, you can rearrange hours and schedules as necessary to avoid exhaustion / burnout. In addition, proper planning of time and resources can improve the execution of your event. Better execution can generate superior results and momentum.
Finally, by establishing a well-thought-out written marketing calendar at (or before) the beginning of the year, you ensure you're able to fit in the events you want – those that provide great results, are close to your heart or ramp up your passion. If you leave your marketing to chance or do it at the last minute, you might run out of time before doing the events that really matter.
While you'll create your marketing calendar in advance, don't forget that it's a fluid document and an ongoing process. It can (and should) be modified, tweaked and updated as needed.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Calendar
Congratulations on creating your first marketing calendar!You're likely to find it gets easier to do each year, and you may begin to look forward to setting your annual marketing vision. Review your marketing calendar regularly, post it in a conspicuous location, update it as needed, and allow it to serve as your road map to greater practice success.
Bonus Tip: Consider creating a three-ring binder (or digital folder structure) that includes an area for each month. Within the month section, create a subdivision for each event including the goals, budget, steps, tracking, and post-event evaluation notes. You can also keep copies of your promotional materials (flyers, sign-in sheets, certificates, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) here. This way, everything about each event is in a single, easily accessible location.
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