Awhile back, I received a call from a customer asking for marketing assistance. We set up a meeting and all the appropriate department leaders attended. The Administrator explained the need for marketing support and asked me to explain how this would be provided. I began by asking questions to try to get a feel for what their needs were. It did not take long for the group to take over asking and answering the questions. Soon the Administrator stopped everyone and said what they were all beginning to figure out. The need was not for marketing, but for something to market.

This scene is not uncommon, but once you realize this, the closer you are to doing something about it. You have to accept that you have a problem before you can fix it. The next question is how do we begin to correct the issue? The answer is simple, go to the very people you depend on for referrals and ask them how they feel about the level of service you are providing. Are you meeting their needs? Look at your competition. What do they do well, and what do they do poorly?

Take a look at how you do things internally. Are you tracking tour conversions? Do you provide a well thought out tour? Is your staff friendly to guests and to each other during a tour? Are the marketing and admissions people meeting to discuss what they are doing, and how well it is working?

The list of things that need to be asked and answered goes on and on, but all of it is necessary to put together an all-encompassing marketing plan. You must first do your homework before you have a plan that meets the needs of your market and the needs of your facility. Is the plan true to your company’s values and vision? This is very important.

There is one last thing that is important, but most difficult to do. You have to be willing to be honest about what your shortcomings and challenges are. Once you can do that then you are on the road to recovery.