Tips for Marketing in a Down Economy

11 02 2010

A few years ago, I was asked to present a fast-paced presentation offering tips for marketing on a shoe string budget. Or as I like to call them, zero budget tactics.

We all know nothing in life is free. If a human is involved, there is an associated cost unless services are donated. But if you can set staff time aside, there are a number of easy things most organizations can do to stretch a dollar further.

So back by popular demand are my top 25 FREE marketing tips. I have had to dust them off a bit and infuse a healthy dose of new media but I think they still hold. Over the next several days, I will share them.  Let me know what your think.  Are you already doing any of them with success? Have you tried some and abandoned them?  Either way, I hope there will be an idea or two you can use to help you accomplish more for a bit less. 

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that can generate the greatest attention — a message in an unexpected place or delivered in a provactive way. And sometimes you just need to look at things differently and you will discover new approaches to the same old challenges. Consider your community your canvas and have some fun.

25 FREE Marketing Tips (1-5)

#1 – Use fact-based marketing
Conduct simple surveys to gain customer insight.

  • Outside the elevators in your site(s)
  • In your cafeteria
  • In the local mall
  • On a busy street corner

Identify key questions and conduct personal interviews, or create a simple 5-10 question survey and post online — on your web page, social pages, etc. Don’t think you can afford focus groups? Think again. Partner with a local university market research class to help facilitate, if needed.

When you base your decisions and marketing on fact rather than emotion and consumer perception rather than internal perception you are more likely to achieve the results you need.

#2 – Business cards
Are you using both sides of your business cards?

  • Make your cards “keepers” by adding value
  • Consider adding physician referral, class registration and nurse triage lines
  • It’ all about access – add social page links
  • Print coupon to encourage Rx transfer to retail pharmacy or lunch at your bistro
  • Promote second opinion program or other unique patient-centric features

Do you provide general cards to all employees? Might be worth the cost when you figure your employees get asked for physician and service referrals.  Take them off the hot seat by printing resources on the back of a general card and you instantly maximize the number of potential brand ambassadors. 

#3 Make your daily correspondence work harder
Promote your new services/sites/programs, upcoming events or new providers with messages on …

  • The back flaps of envelopes
  • Fax cover sheets
  • The signature line of all corporate e-mail messages
  • On-hold messages for incoming calls

And if you have a short-term message you need to spread but don’t want to invest in printing, you might want to consider creating custom ink or foil stamps to place to help spread the word and piggy back on regularly planned direct mail (invoices, appointment reminders, etc.)

Be sure you don’t forget your own employees. Payroll stuffers are a thing of the past but use banner ads on your Intranet or screen savers or consider mass voice mails to offer updates and ensure your staff is in the know.

#4 Drive web traffic
Today consumers turn to the Internet for basic information — even to online directories instead of phone books. Be sure they think of you as a resource and can find you. Create interest in your web site and drive traffic by including your URL on…

  • Business cards
  • Letterhead
  • Fax cover sheets
  • Brochures
  • Patient education pieces
  • Flyers
  • Recruitment ads
  • Giveaway items

A great number of organizations continue to invest heavily in development of a web site and/or landing pages and fail to promote them.  Simply showing up is not enough.

#5 Add interactivity to your web pages
Make your Web site a destination by keeping content fresh and offering things such as:

  •  Physician Finder with biographies of providers, maps, video clips, etc.
  • Online calendar/class registration with lists of all screenings, lectures and outreach
  • Ask the Expert section and discussion boards to encourage interaction
  • Online health risk assessments, quizzes or tools
  • Online job postings and resume submission
  • Current media releases and video news clips or links to YouTube channel
  • Portable document format (PDF) files of key service line brochures
  • Virtual tours of rooms or units
  • Podcasts, video clips, YouTube links
  • Twitter feeds and links to all social networking sites
  • Consider offering educational programs as webinars

Don’t have a webmaster?  Partner with a local university or recruit a volunteer with the skills you need for basic programming and updates.

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