How to Optimize Your Hospital Marketing Budget

"Budget" infographic This is the time of year when a well-considered hospital marketing budget is in the final-finish stages. It’s nearly ready for rollout with the launch of a new calendar year. But getting it done isn’t the same as getting it right. Here are four thought-leader concepts to help optimize your budget—and your marketing results—as never before.

Clients will ask us for a third-party planning and budget critique. But all too often we discover that next year’s “new” budget is mostly a rollover. They are legacy numbers with fresh lipstick. There are good reasons to carry forward ideas that have worked in the past. Nevertheless, the total package fails to deliver an exciting new energy or breakthrough results. You can’t be doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.

Budget challenges vs. the “same-and-safe” thing…

In our experience, optimizing your hospital marketing plan and budget isn’t an easy task. But it can energize a tired plan and deliver substantially better results. Some inspirational and educational words came through to me when I attended the INBOUND business conference recently. Consider how these watchwords can lift your planning process to a new level:

“Your comfortable place is not your place of growth.” Of course, it’s warm and comfortable in familiar surroundings. But that’s not where “your creative vision for your life resides.” Denis Waitley challenges us to: “break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.” Consider how and where to manage and minimize reasonable risk in new territory. Ask for experienced advice, and consider it a new and exciting starting point.

“You need a relentless focus on high-impact work.” It is vital to focus first on those things that can truly make a difference. Activity is not the same thing as productivity. Simply moving the little things around, or making superficial changes, are usually inconsequential. Identify the key drivers and put both hands on the major marketing elements.

“Don’t get sucked into the black hole of tiny optimization. Know when to reset.” The operative word is “tiny,” generally meaning the opposite of “high impact” work. An real-world example of this from our own company came through to me recently. We were relentlessly working on a flyer for one of our own events. After a while, it became evident that we were trying to push water uphill. The answer was not to change the flyer, but to change the event. The reset made all the difference.

“Plan and budget for meaningful results. Not as answers to special interests or repeat-repeat-repeat.” Perhaps the most common error is in doing the same thing over again each year, mainly because “that’s what we’ve always done.” It’s not good planning or use of precious resources when the objective is simply to repeat…and not to perform.

The second error is to bow to special interests and political pressures. It’s not easy to say no, when necessary, to internal politics. The greater gain is in using the plan and budget to produce measurable gains (and not to satisfy individual interests.)

Creating a fresh, new hospital marketing budget…

Sometimes it’s appropriate for some elements of a plan to carry forward. But to effectively produce meaningful gains and measurable results, begin your hospital marketing budget and plan with a fresh perspective and a blank sheet of paper.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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