How the “B” Word Can Transform Your Marketing Approach

What’s the dirtiest word in the healthcare marketing executive’s lexicon?

According to our survey of more than 300 healthcare marketing communication executives over the past year, it’s “budget.” We asked executives to rank their biggest marketing challenges among this list of common ills: thought leadership, not enough internal resources, internal communications, budget, marketing content, driving traffic to my website, managing social media, media relations, and generating qualified leads for my sales team.

Budget was ranked the No. 1 challenge, followed in order by Creating Thought Leadership, Not Enough Internal Resources, Internal Communications, and Marketing Content. We’ll take on each of these Top 5 challenges in our new Marketing Challenges series, starting today with budget.

Four Strategies to Deal with Budget Constraints

Healthcare marketing communicators are consistently asked to solve difficult, complex problems with a plethora of constraints and sensitivities. So when you know you have the right plan to help your company gain market share or engage a difficult-to-reach audience, there are few things as frustrating as not having enough financial resources to act on it. Consider these “be” words to help leverage your small “b” budget into a big “b” one:

1. Be Focused

The best ideas get us excited because of the possibilities. One tactic leads to another, and we can see the campaign unfold across channels and audiences. Sometimes a comprehensive campaign is a luxury, but often depth and breadth are necessary to achieve your business goals. However, in the unfortunate case that budget is an issue, it’s important to focus on a handful of strategic tactics you can knock out of the park. Pick those that will most directly engage your top three audiences and have the potential to serve as a foundation for future efforts as you build the full campaign over time (more on that later).

Focus also translates to efficiency for you, your team, and your agency partner. By having a focused, strategic plan you won’t find yourself falling victim to chasing shiny objects. Instead, you will gain significant value (i.e., get to market faster, achieve results, and conserve budget) by staying on track once your plan has been set. Certainly it’s important to assess your situation and adjust the plan regularly, yet this should not be confused with constantly evaluating the program strategy, messages, and tactics.

A recent survey by Gleanster Research and Kapost, found that the average mid-to-large B2B organization wastes 25 cents of every dollar spent on content marketing on inefficient content operations. Not sticking to your identified path can undermine your efforts, unnecessarily consuming time, energy, and ultimately depleting your piggybank. So make sure you set up program checkpoints to evaluate performance and give you the nimbleness you need. And then stick to it.

2. Be Cynical

When budget is a problem, it can be helpful to be a little cynical. Why? Your marketing game plan will suffer death by a thousand cuts if you’re trying to be involved in every conversation with everyone or blowing out every single tactic. Instead, consider a program that concentrates on making the most of a few big opportunities rather than pouring resources into every opportunity. A fully-integrated program will gain the best value and the best results; no one (and certainly not your friends here at ReviveHealth) is saying otherwise.

If you’re taking a limited, strategic approach, go directly to your audience with something creative and original. Skimp a little on those foundational activities and neglect secondary audiences for a bit. Use that extra time and budget to invest in creating or doing something that you can control and that will get you some serious attention. And then squeeze every ounce of engagement out of your efforts, maximizing your digital tactics. To maximize our efforts, here at Revive we follow the mantra: Create Once, Publish Everywhere. If you do it right, you’ll arm your sales force and executives with something interesting to say and share, and generate content that you can use over and over again to fuel the rest of your marketing channels.

3. Be Thinking Ahead

Optimism is key. When creating your plan, think about a tomorrow with more budget and resources. That day might come, and you should plan for it. According to a recent CMO Survey, B2B marketers anticipated an almost 8 percent increase in their budget in the coming 12 months. Think about platforms that will work today but also have the potential to grow over time. As you invest more heavily in marketing technology solutions you’ll also want to make sure your marketing stack stacks up.

If you’re commissioning research, expand it beyond your immediate needs. If you’re producing original work, factor in how you might be able to go deeper or broader under different circumstances. For example, even if you only have budget to produce a three-minute video, get enough raw footage you can edit later if more budget is available or once you get into the next fiscal year (or the end of the current fiscal year, when money seems to magically appear!).

Always, always, always collect your source files from your vendors. You never know how you might repurpose those assets in the future and having them on hand gives you the nimbleness you need for whatever comes your way.

4. Be Open

Don’t hesitate to get your agency/agencies involved. A good agency knows where they can provide the most value to meet your goals. They’ve likely faced similar situations (and have tons of experience figuring out the best and highest use of budget dollars) and can help you think through how they can best complement you and your team, while also giving you unvarnished opinions on the best program to pursue. Nothing is more gratifying to an agency than helping you solve your biggest challenges. By working collaboratively with you, your agency partners can help match your priorities with the biggest opportunities and help you develop a plan to execute an effective campaign.

Be honest with them about your goals and expectations, and they might even be able to help you make a case to grow your budget. After all, that’s probably why you have an agency in the first place – to tap into their expertise and be a strong strategic partner with you.

Bonus Tip: Be Sure

Our four strategies won’t solve all your budget woes, but they’re sure to help you navigate them more effectively. You can also take solace in the knowledge that you’re not alone. Next up, we’ll take on what hundreds of fellow marketers told us is their second biggest marketing challenge: Creating Effective Thought Leadership. Be sure to check it out.

March 11, 2016
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