Ideally, all healthcare organizations would always have a robust marketing budget to consistently generate leads and grow patient volume. However, many healthcare facilities operate on tight margins in today's market. Often, marketing budgets are among the first to get cut when revenue is down.

When a health organization is on a tight budget, reducing or cutting back on marketing efforts can have a detrimental impact at precisely the time when you need to drive more health consumers to your organization.

The key is to implement healthcare marketing strategies that are effective but also budget friendly. There are ways you can leverage your owned and earned media while getting creative with paid media so that you can comprehensively market to your prospective consumers while staying within budgetary constraints.

Content Marketing

Content marketing drives prospective health consumers to your owned media assets where you can then convert them into appointments and active patients. You have numerous owned channels at your disposal that cost relatively little to leverage. Utilizing blogs, videos, infographics, and downloadable resources to share valuable public health information and patient stories establishes expertise and credibility. Additionally, you can distribute your content widely via your social media channels.

Social Media Marketing

Speaking of social media, connecting with audiences through social media platforms is another cost-effective way to reach your prospective consumers. Many social media platforms enable targeted advertising to ensure you're reaching the most applicable audience. Another way to leverage social media to your advantage is to encourage and highlight positive patient interactions and reviews on various platforms.

Local Partnerships & Community Engagement

Building relationships with local businesses, community centers, and schools costs no money and can help local residents (i.e., prospective patients) become better acquainted with your brand and services.

You can further increase your visibility in the area by sponsoring local events and health fairs. Another way to engage the local community is to host free workshops or health seminars to demonstrate expertise and highlight services.

Email Marketing

Building and maintaining an effective email list of potential consumers and/or referrers is also a low-cost method to target the most likely consumers of your services. With a carefully curated list, you can then send newsletters with updates, health tips, and service information to the right people at opportune times. Seasonal health initiatives and promotions are also great topics to highlight via direct email marketing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Properly optimizing your content for search will boost your content marketing efforts. Optimize your website for key search terms so that more web users will find you online vs. competing health organizations. Local SEO strategies improve visibility in the community; therefore, you should optimize for your specific location and general health search terms.

Updating your site regularly, ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly, and eliminating broken links are a few other simple and cost-effective ways to improve your website's search performance.

Patient Referral Programs

Satisfied patients can market your health services for you at no charge. Encourage these patients to refer friends and family. To increase referrals, implement an incentive plan or promotion for patient referral programs with incentives for both existing and newly referred patients.

Online Reputation Management

In addition to personal referrals, patients can also advocate for your practice online. Always actively monitor your online presence, and be sure to manage and respond to online reviews regularly. Encourage positive reviews from satisfied patients, and then promote and highlight reviews for added credibility and engagement.

Leverage User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is another low-cost/no-cost way to market your health services successfully. Encourage patients to share success stories and testimonials. Feature user-generated content on websites and social media for authenticity as part of your content marketing and social media marketing efforts.

Cross-promotions with Local Businesses

Partner with local fitness centers, pharmacies, or wellness stores that provide services and products that align well with your services without competing for consumers. Collaborative cross-promotions and events with other health-related businesses can expand your reach to new local consumers who may not already know your services.

Organic PR - Media Outreach

You don't necessarily need an expensive PR consultant to generate some local buzz and media coverage. Your team can likely earn local coverage by establishing relationships with local media members, especially those covering health-related topics.

Reach out to media reps with information about health events, new services, promotions, seasonal health alerts, etc., for earned media coverage, which also helps you to expand your reach beyond your existing patients and followers.

Paid Media - Advertising

Just because you're on a tight budget doesn't mean you need to forego paid advertising. That said, you will likely need to get a bit creative in how you approach it.

Reach out to local media outlets to discuss your needs and budget. Often, advertising teams can think outside the box to develop creative ideas to leverage a smaller ad spend for maximum results.

This is another area where collaborating with other businesses may help divide the advertising costs. For example, if you participate in a local health fair with other health organizations, all the businesses could go in together on some advertising for the event rather than your business footing the entire advertising cost.


While marketing within a budget can be tough, it is very feasible. It often requires some additional creativity and collaboration, but there are many resources at your fingertips, which are key marketing tools such as your digital assets, existing patients, and community partners.

If you're willing to be creative and adaptable, you can achieve great marketing results if you consistently leverage your resources. However, it does require a team that can put in the required legwork and labor to leverage your digital assets and resources. If it's challenging for your team to keep up with it all, a consultant can help you optimize your budget and resources. While engaging a consulting firm may seem like an added expense, marketing consultants typically pay for themselves in savings and results.

CMG Health Marketing can help you achieve maximum results, even within a budget. Contact us to learn more about partnering with us to grow your practice this year.