There are cutbacks, and then there are slashes. Many of my readers have told me about the serious difficulties they face: One-person hospital marketing departments that also run the gift shop and support the volunteers. Hospitals serving a very poor community and facing severe state cutbacks. Imminent takeovers by larger systems.
The question I often hear is, “How can I ask for marketing money when we can barely care for our patients?” It’s not just the not for profits who are struggling. Marketing and copywriting teams all over the country are experiencing similar difficulties.
There are many steps you can take to strengthen your marketing efforts, and not all of them involve spending more money. Don’t accept the belief that nothing can be done. Unless you are in bankruptcy court, resources can be found, with the right strategies.
Here are some simple, no-cost tips to try:
Tip #1: Get to know the people in finance. Take them for a cup of coffee. Learn what they are looking for and what concerns them. Their perspective should be useful in planning your budget or requesting additional funds. Just because you flunked math or don’t know a thing about balance sheets doesn’t mean you can’t learn something about finance’s point of view, and the responsibilities they have-and vice versa.
Tip #2: Be your own efficiency expert. For two weeks, track the hours you dedicate to writing a press release or a newsletter. Are you surprised to learn that it is taking you five hours to do something that you think should only take two? See if you can cut back on the time. Find an online article about writing efficiently.
Tip #3: Are you publishing a hard copy newsletter with 10 to 12 pages of words, pictures and graphics? Take some time to evaluate the costs, in money and labor, of this project. How important is this publication to your patients and community? Is it an essential source of information for them? Or, are they ready for online information? Hospitals save large amounts of printing, paper and mailing costs by using e-mail newsletters. In some cases, the funds saved can be used to hire a part-time writer.
Tip #4: Identify the one task that you really hate. The cost of energy and morale can be significant. Can you trade this task with someone else? Does the task really have to be done? Is there an alternative to this task?
Tip #5: Do you have a project in mind that you feel strongly about? Put together a proposal that shows the costs and the return on investment for it. Underline not only the financial soundness of your proposal, but also the ways in which it will benefit the organization as a whole. Make an eloquent case! You may be used to thinking about yourself as a writer, not a business-person, but even writers can learn to build a case for what they believe in.
Copyright (c) 2010 Jane Sherwin. You may reprint this entire article and you must include the copyright info and the following statement: “Jane Sherwin is a writer who helps hospitals and other healthcare facilities communicate their strengths and connect with their readers.”