For those who have managed marketing initiatives, setting clear and measurable goals seems to be a fairly understandable and obvious theory. However, being able to objectively set goals is difficult for some people, especially if you haven’t set them in the past.
The process of setting objective goals doesn’t have to be a challenge. It can be done simply by asking and answering the question: “What is the best way for me to meet the objectives identified by my administrative team or myself?”
As a former Chief Operating Officer who was responsible for marketing, I have observed firsthand how difficult healthcare marketing can be and how easy it is for an organization to suffer from activity traps. We repeatedly face questions like:
- With so many departments and so many different pieces of lifesaving equipment what should we market?
- How do we measure if we are being successful?
- Are we implementing tactics simply because the service line administrator or hospital administrator wants it done
Without clear marketing objectives, it’s easy to forget why we start any initiative. It’s easy to suffer from “activity traps,” which Peter Drucker defines in “The Practice of Management” as happening when managers and staff lose sight of the purpose because they become complacent with their day-to-day activities.
Without a continual focus on our objectives, they quickly become forgotten, messages become diluted and new marketing initiatives are prioritized above previous initiatives to try and move the needle. The efforts of the department may be well intentioned, but move like a compass that needs to be calibrated – spinning in every direction except true north. Efforts to increase patient census is dashed and growth activities become secondary to putting out the fire of the day.
Using S.M.A.R.T. to Develop Strategic Partnerships
Organizations typically define their objectives through a strategic plan or some form of goal setting. As a healthcare marketing professional, you should use that planning document to prepare specific goals for your department that align with the objectives of the organization. And you should share your goals and initiatives with the companies you retain to help support you.
At Geonetric, we help our clients achieve their marketing goals. We start by making sure they can define their goals using the S.M.A.R.T acronym:
- “S” stands for specific – The goal should not only be identified but specific. The desired result must be clearly identified so everyone can work toward that goal.
- “M” is for measurable – You must be able to measure progress toward reaching the goal. For example, increase ER traffic by 5% or increase mammograms by 15 per month. Measuring the specific goal helps to identify that collectively we are achieving the focused goal.
- “A” stands for Attainable – Setting goals that are unattainable lead to frustration and second guessing. Establishing a goal that is specific, measurable and attainable helps everyone involved see that progress is being made and that reaching that goal is within grasp.
- “R” is for results oriented – Are your goals aligned with the organization and focused on results? Goals should focus on the desired end results and not the activities necessary to achieve them. This helps to make sure that everyone involved in meeting the goal are “pulling the wagon” in the same direction.
- “T” stands for time bound: The identified goal should have a time lime associated with it. It may not be as simple as increasing ER patient visits by 20 per month if there isn’t a sense of urgency to achieve this goal within a certain period of time. If the goal is to achieve this by the end of the year is should be stated so that stakeholders are clear on the timeline.
We use our clients’ S.M.A.R.T. goals as part of our Stat process. Each quarter we hold a Stat call with each of our clients to review their online metrics, share benchmark data among peer groups and provide actionable guidance. We measure our clients’ efforts using their S.M.A.R.T. goals because we know the key to realizing online marketing success is to be relentlessly focused on results.
As Geonetric team members, we pride ourselves on being strategic partners that help our clients ensure their online investments provide value.