Let’s get this out of the way upfront: When it comes to marketing budgets, we’re not a disinterested party. We believe that if you’re looking to let the people you serve know about a service or a capability or a procedure or an expertise, you should invest in marketing. We also believe that—up to a point, and with certain qualifications—the more you’re willing to invest, the greater the result you might expect. We’ve seen the results of effective marketing over and over again.

We also know that, when costs need to be cut, marketing is often the first slash of the knife. And if you’re a healthcare organization currently living through the nth wave of COVID-19, chances are pretty good you need to cut costs—for so many reasons that enumerating them would just be depressing.

You need the people you serve to get the care they’ve been putting off for two years or more. Your resources for reaching out to them—typically strained even in good times—may be shrinking.

Now what?

Realize that you can’t do more with less.

How many times have you heard—or said—”We’re going to have to do more with less?”

We’re here to tell you: It can’t be done. Less is less.

Theoretically, you can make more cookies from the same batch of cookie dough. But they’re going to be smaller cookies.

Our advice: Embrace less. Instead of trying to spread your budget so every provider or service line gets a little piece, make the hard decisions about where you need to focus now. Sometimes a little bit of marketing spend is a waste of money. If you can’t spend enough to move the needle, don’t do it.

Get beyond the service line.

As regards the above: You may be tasked with marketing all sorts of specific service lines, from oncology to orthopedics to maternity to emergency to heart care and beyond. All those converge at another point that may also be considered a service line but is actually much larger: women’s health.

Yes, women have specific health concerns that are different from men’s. But heart health and orthopedics and emergencies, etc., are women’s health issues, too. And women are involved with and responsible for healthcare decisions for the men in their lives, too. You can cover a lot of ground by concentrating on reaching women.

Or, beyond women’s health, consider what you gain by promoting your system as a whole. You may be able to cover more ground—and make more effective use of your marketing dollars—by concentrating on larger messages than smaller ones.

Have a great content strategy.

Smart, timely health content may be the best way to stretch your marketing budget. It’s relatively inexpensive to produce—we know, because we produce a tremendous amount of it for our clients—and it allows you to get granular about health conditions and procedures and providers. Great content skillfully deployed can attract thousands of visitors a month to your websites, and it doesn’t have to require much more than the services of a talented copywriter.

Although you don’t have to limit your content to blog posts: Great content has cross-platform utility. Video is increasingly inexpensive and easy to produce and can be edited for your website, social media, preroll, even broadcast. Photographs of your physicians and nurses and associates and community are almost certain to attract attention on social media.

Content by itself won’t make up for a small budget. But it will make your small budget go further.

Get the most out of your agency.

To bring this post full circle, we also know we’re biased when we suggest that maybe your agency can be doing more for you. But we need to say it, anyway: An outside team that knows you and is looking out for you can truly help you figure out the best way to get the most out of every dollar you spend.

If you currently have that kind of team, now’s the time to use them for all they’re worth. If you don’t have that kind of team, we can recommend a great one.