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Develop a Marketing Budget

The Doctor's Office, July 17, 2008

In an ideal world, you'd be able to hire an experienced professional marketing director to manage your program—that is if your practice is large enough and has room in the budget.

But if someone else handles marketing development, such as a physician, a practice administrator, or another executive, it is vital that the person is able to devote the appropriate time to the job. Ideally, this is an individual who understands the importance of relationship building and customer service. This individual will make sure that physicians are on time for appointments and that they follow up appropriately with referring physicians.

This is not an operations-only issue; it is a serious part of customer relations that can make or break a group practice.

"It's their job to find out what it is the patient needs," says Patrick T. Buckley, MPA, a healthcare marketing expert with more than 25 years of experience in the field. "Sometimes the follow-up is lacking."

One of their first goals should be to develop a marketing budget.

The budget is an expression of the manner in which the marketing program seeks to achieve its annual goals. It supports the group's ability to deliver needed clinical services to its patients. The budget must be adequately sized and appropriately spent to enable the group to rise above competitors who may offer similar services.

Consider the following factors when sizing your budget:

  • What are the practice's clinical growth goals?
  • What specific resources are required to attain those growth goals?
  • How much money must the practice spend to counter its competitors' efforts?

Depending upon the size of the group, the marketing manager may or may not have the ability to employ additional marketing staff members.

In comparison to hospitals, most physician groups have modest marketing budgets. The marketing director must make every cent count by determining what can reasonably be accomplished with the existing resources versus what will need to be outsourced.


This article was adapted from one that originally ran in The Doctor's Office, a HealthLeaders Media publication.

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