There’s no denying that many challenges lie ahead in 2021. But here at WriteUpp, we’re confident that 2021 is going to be a bounce-back year! With that in mind it’s going to be more important than ever to come back stronger.

In this article, I want to provide you with a super practical guide to help you create your own private practice marketing plan for 2021. I know how hard this can be. That’s why I’ve created a comprehensive step-by-step template for you to download, follow along and complete in readiness for the New Year.

The plan and downloadable tool covers three steps:

  • Phase 1: Preparation (incl. understanding exactly who your audience is, reviewing your past marketing efforts and conducting a peer review)
  • Phase 2: Strategy (incl. defining overall objectives, choosing tactics based on the information gathered in Phase 1 and setting measurable goals for yourself)
  • Phase 3: Implementation (incl. breaking down your strategy into a bite-sized, realistic plan and putting systems in place that will help you stay organised and on-track to meeting your goals)

If you’d like to take a look at it and get started right away, you can download the toolkit here.

The toolkit includes the following elements.

  • The 2021 private practice marketing plan template to fill out for yourself
  • An example private practice marketing plan to help guide you through the process
  • Our full eBook Healthcare Marketing: A Complete Overview for Private Practitioners

For those of you who would like some more guidance on how to use the tool, I’m going to break down the tool into each individual step. I’ll give you some background information as to why each step is important and how you should go about completing them.

Phase 1: Preparation

The preparation phase provides the foundation you’ll need to develop a realistic marketing strategy in Phases 2 and Phase 3. While this phase can seem daunting, they should be viewed as the groundwork that will help you be more effective in the long run. I’ve broken it down into three steps that are designed to be as actionable and easy to follow as possible.

Step 1: Know your audience

In today’s landscape, it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing marketing as a self-promotion tool that allows you to tell people who you are and what you do. But in that scenario, the entire focus of your communication efforts lies on you. Instead, an effective marketing strategy should be focussing on what your clients want and need.

In order to draft a coherent marketing plan that is optimised for success, you have to understand who you are trying to communicate with. Step 1 is going to help you put yourself in your client’s shoes and learn as much about them as you can. Who are they? What are their interests? Why do they come to see you exactly?

In short, the information you’re trying to uncover can be grouped into five topics:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Their goals, needs & pain points
  • Their client experience
  • Other healthcare-related specifics

The most efficient way you can get answers is by simply talking to your clients and asking them. This could be in-person as well as through online surveys. You can also review some of your past client reviews or case studies you have to see what they have to say about you. Online research on relevant websites, forums or social media channels can also be a great way to gain further insights.

If you’re looking for further insights into what client research is, how it works and why it’s important, you can check out the related section in our healthcare marketing article.

Preview of the tool:

How to use it:

In the spreadsheet, you’ll find a link to a Google Forms survey template that contains over 20 questions you can ask your clients to learn more about them. You can send this survey out as it is, make adjustments or copy it to a survey software of your choice (Survey Monkey, Typeform, etc.). You can also just use the questions as the basis for some in-person conversations/interviews that you have with your clients.

Additionally, the spreadsheet offers a framework to give you an idea of what kind of information is relevant for each of the five categories as well as the space to collect all of your information in one place. You can imagine it as sort of an encyclopedia on your clients that you can come back to help you step into their shoes.

Step 2: Review your 2020 marketing performance

Ok, so 2020 was a weird year I know, and it’s probably not very much fun to think about but before you move on to planning your activity for 2021, it’s crucial to understand what worked well and what didn’t.

Despite the odd circumstances of this year, reviewing your marketing activity should help you gain insights into what things you might want to continue doing, what things might need improvement and what things you might want to scratch all together.

Preview of the tool:

How to use it:

I’ve structured this spreadsheet using the framework of the 4 P’s of marketing. If you don’t have a lot of background in marketing, don’t worry. All you basically need to know is that this framework will allow you to analyse the four most important aspects of your marketing strategy: product, pricing, promotion and place.

For each category, I provide some specific questions that will help you guide your review. But as always, you can add as much of your own insights as you’d like.

Similar to Step 1 (and as you’ll see in a second – also Step 3), this review is really intended to make you think about what is working and what isn’t working and to help you gather evidence on what you’ll want to focus on in 2021.

Step 3: Review your peers’ marketing activity

The last step in the preparation phase is taking a look at what your peers in the industry are currently doing for their marketing activities. The focus of this review isn’t to copy a bunch of ideas from your peers but rather to gain a different perspective on what exactly your audience likes and see if there are any tricks you’re missing.

There might be certain mediums or channels your audience uses a lot that you aren’t currently aware of before and by looking at where your peers are being really successful, you might actually uncover them.

Preview of the tool:

How to use it:

Make a list of some of the most relevant peers in your industry (could be local or not) and do some research into what kind of marketing they’ve been doing this past year.

In the sheet, you’ll find a list of all the different platforms and channels that you can review for each peer to see if and how they’re using it. Simply start on their website and make your way through their social media, their ads, etc. etc. and then collect the information you uncover in the sheet itself.

Phase 2: Strategy

Once you’ve gathered your evidence in Phase 1, it’s time to figure out how to combine all of this information into an actionable plan for 2021.

Step 1: SWOT yourself

To help you summarise all of the information you’ve uncovered in Phase 1 (if you follow it properly it should be a lot!) – the next step is to conduct a simple SWOT analysis.

If you’re unfamiliar, SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In summary, what this type of analysis does is it helps you take all of the information you’ve gathered in Phase 1 and boil it down to the most important conclusions you should draw from it.

Based on the conclusions from this analysis, you’ll then be able to set objectives for the new year knowing that you’re going after goals that are strategic and relevant to your unique circumstances.

Preview of the tool:

How to use it:

This spreadsheet comes with a template to allow you to perform a simple SWOT analysis on yourself. The process itself is surprisingly simple. For each of the four categories, the spreadsheet provides some questions to help guide you through the process and a place to jot down all your thoughts.

As I mentioned, the important thing to remember when doing this SWOT analysis is that it should always be based on the evidence you’ve captured using the tools of Phase 1 (client review, marketing review, peer review) so that you actually have some tangible conclusions to base your marketing plan on in the following steps.

Step 2: Understand your options

Now that you have a decent understanding of where you currently stand, it’s time to look at what your options are for 2021. An important aspect of creating a good marketing plan is setting realistic and achievable goals for yourself.

However, I know that it can be difficult to set realistic goals if you’re new to the world of marketing and are unsure what goals might be relevant to you and what you should be focussing your time on.

For that reason, I’ve created this following spreadsheet that will give you a comprehensive overview of the different objectives you can set for yourself and what kind of marketing tactics will help you achieve them.

Preview of the tool:

How to use it:

In this step, simply browse through the list of objectives to get a better understanding of what is possible. No other actions required. The spreadsheet is sorted into different objectives, a brief description of what that objective means (if you’re unfamiliar with certain marketing terms) and overview of possible marketing activities you could perform in 2021 to achieve those objectives.

Because I know that any marketing activities can often feel a bit up in the air and it’s difficult to see the results of what you’re doing, I’ve also included a list of success indicators for each of the marketing tactics so you know how to keep an eye on your progress throughout the year.

This list is by no means exhaustive and if you already have unique goals in mind that aren’t on this list then by all means, please use them. This overview is simply meant to act as a guide and inspiration to those who need it.

Step 3: Set your priorities

Finally. This is the part of the process where you’ll start getting your hands dirty with planning for 2021.

Based on the conclusions you’ve made in your SWOT analysis and the inspiration from the overview of objectives, now is the time to plan out exactly what objectives you want to prioritise and what tactics you’ll follow to achieve those objectives.

Preview of the tool:

How to use it:

This spreadsheet is divided into three different elements you’ll need to decide on: objectives, tactics and measures of success.

At the top level, you’ll need to decide what overall objectives you’ll want to go after. As I said, this will be completely unique to your situation and should be based on what you think makes the most sense for your practice. In general, you can set as many objectives as you see fit. However, I do recommend keeping it somewhat simple and not going after more than 4 or 5 to begin with.

After you’ve set your top-level objectives, you’ll want to map out exactly what you’ll do to achieve that objective. Each objective should be made up of about 1-5 unique tactics you’ll work on throughout the year (this is where the overview in Step 2 might come in handy).

And lastly, for every tactic, you’ll want to define how you’re going to measure your success against that tactic as well as what your specific goal (quantitative or qualitative) is going to be for that year.

Phase 3: Implementation

Now it’s time to take your goals for 2021 and create a plan on how you’ll put them into action.

Step 1: Create a marketing timetable

If you’ve read any of my other content so far, you’ll most likely know that I’m a big fan of planning in advance. I know it’s cliché but I believe that “failing to plan is planning to fail” is a popular saying for a reason.

The first thing you’ll want to create is a yearly overview of when you’ll need to focus on which objectives and tactics. This could be determined by a variety of reasons. Sometimes you might need to finish one project before you can start the other so it might make sense to plan them out chronologically. Others might be bound to a specific time of year or might be an all-year-round type of project.

By creating a yearly action plan in advance, you’ll know exactly what you’ll need to focus on each month which will hopefully help you increase your efficiency as well as your likelihood for success.

Preview of the tool:

How to use it:

This spreadsheet is structured in a way that will let you map out a yearly plan for each of the objectives and the accompanying tactics you’ve set for yourself.

If you’re planning to relaunch your website and start running some Google Ads as part of your overall goal of attracting new clients, it might be a good idea to plan the website relaunch for the first few months before moving on to Google Ads as the quality of your website can greatly influence your ad performance.

Similarly, if your goal is to increase your networking in the industry and you’ve set yourself the goal of attending three networking events, you might spend some time researching when those events will take place and plan them into your calendar.

Before the start of every new month, you can simply come back to this sheet, take a look at what you’ve got planned for that month and then create a more detailed to-do list for those projects in Step 2.

Step 2: Create monthly task lists

If you’ve filled out your yearly marketing plan with precision, you should have a decent understanding of the different projects you’ll need to work on each month to achieve your objectives over the course of the year. Based on those projects, you can then create monthly tasks lists that will help you structure your time and resources each month.

Preview of the tool:

How to use it:

Before the start of a new month, check your yearly marketing timetable from Step 1 and make a list of all the things you’ll need to be working on that month. Based on that overview, make a list of all of the action steps you’ll need to take in order to accomplish the goals you’ve set.

To keep you organised, this sheet lets you assign each task to a specific objective and tactic so you always know why you are working on specific tasks. You can also add a person responsible for this specific task and a deadline that will hopefully help you be accountable to the goals you’ve set for yourself.

This overview is really meant to help you keep a bird’s-eye view of everything that needs to get done each month. Once you’ve created this task list however, I recommend managing these tasks using other tools (such as Asana, Todist or whatever system you might already be using) as these can be much more helpful for the day-to-day management of what needs to get done.

Step 3: Track your progress throughout the year

And last but not least, if you’re putting in a lot of time and hard work into your marketing throughout the year, you’ll definitely want to have a place where you can track your progress.

This spreadsheet will do exactly that.

Preview of the tool:

How to use it:

This sheet is designed so that at the end of every month, you can come and update it with the progress you’ve been making for that month. This type of bird-eye level perspective of your progress can be helpful to see if you’re on track to reach your yearly goals but also allow you to compare the results for different months and perhaps draw conclusions based on the different actions you’ve taken in those months.

At the end of the year, you’ll be able to fill in your final results and review your progress against the initial goals you’ve set for yourself. And that future version of you will also be super grateful because when it’s time to plan your marketing for 2022, you can use this sheet to easily perform your next yearly marketing review!

Conclusion

In this article, I’ve broken down the process of creating your 2021 marketing strategy into three following steps:

  • In Phase 1: Preparation, we covered how to gather important information that sets the foundation for a successful marketing strategy. This includes client research, a marketing review as well as a peer review.
  • In Phase 2: Strategy, we covered how to draw conclusions from the information we gathered in Phase 1 and how to use those conclusions to help set our priorities for 2021 (incl. defining overall objectives, tactics and measurable goals).
  • Lastly, in Phase 3: Implementation, we covered how you can take the priorities you’ve set in Phase 2 and break them down into bite-sized, realistic plans that can help you stay organised and on track to meeting your goals.

If you’d like to download the template, you can do so as part of our full 2021 marketing toolkit here.

The toolkit includes the following elements:

  • The 2021 marketing plan template to fill out for yourself
  • An example marketing plan to help guide you through the process
  • Our full eBook: Healthcare Marketing: A Complete Overview for Private Practitioners

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