Rehab marketing can be a double-edged sword.

It can open the floodgates of opportunities and improve your rehab center’s census.


It can throw your money down the drain and leave you in the gutter.

In this blog post, you are going to read how you can effectively spread your rehab marketing budget into primary and secondary marketing efforts and get the most out of your marketing campaigns.

There is a reason why rehab owners are willing to sell their left kidney to hire a marketing agency that can consistently generate good leads.

A single rehab patient can bring in upwards of $6,000 to $30,000 for a 30-day treatment program. For 90-day programs, the total average of costs could range anywhere from $12,000 to $60,000.

One word: Lucrative

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The addiction rehab industry is worth $35 billion annually, so expect to compete with both the lead generation directories and the national brands.

We’ve heard countless stories of disappointment and poor results from small to medium size treatment centers because their SEO/SEM agency suggested that reverse engineering what the big competitors are doing is the best way to close the gap.

Think about that for a second.

If you are copying your competitor’s techniques, wouldn’t you always be a step or two behind?

The good news? There is a way to stay competitive without breaking your bank.

Budget smarter and avoid doing exactly what the big brands are doing.

Simple, right?

Here’s what you need to remember.

Rehab marketing is not about how many branded engagements, website visitors, or phone calls you can buy.

Rehab marketing is about how long you can extend each of these branded engagements, website visitors, or phone calls.

Let me say it again.

“Rehab marketing should be about how long you can prolong each customer experience or journey.”

addiction marketing budget

For example, if you don’t have a system in place to follow-up on those leads that wasn’t ready to commit or didn’t have the right type of insurance, or a website visit that did not convert, you are wasting your budget.

It is extremely frustrating when marketing departments work so hard and put so much into the campaigns but efforts are wasted because of few simple things you fail to do.

Now I’m not saying these few simple things will turn a failing marketing campaign around, but you’ll be surprised at just how much better your marketing campaigns perform if you engage in long-term customer journey tracking and marketing.

Put a follow-up system in place first and thank us later.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Google’s dictionary of this proverb is “Don’t risk everything on the success of one venture.”

Similarly, if you are working with a limited marketing budget, you shouldn’t risk everything on just one marketing method.

Here’s what you can do:

Support your primary marketing efforts with secondary marketing efforts.

Let me give you some examples:

  • If you are doing traditional advertising like local TV or radio, make sure you have your remarketing pixels setup and start collecting their cookies so you can follow-up with a retargeting campaign.
  • Doing organic SEO activities like guest posting, manual outreach for link building? Why not target industry experts or local businesses who can become strategic referral partners?
  • Networking and expanding your professional circle? Collaborate with these industry experts on interviews, quotes, and expert round-ups so you can publish expert-level content on your blog.
  • If your admission team consists of one or two members that work from 9 to 5, you probably shouldn’t buy media ad slots during after-hours because they are cheaper
  • If you cannot capture cookies or email addresses, you probably should not engage in traditional media advertising

Your overall marketing strategy should be a mixed basket of primary and secondary tactics.

With a few simple changes and a new way of thinking, you will realize what combinations work best with your current marketing efforts.

Give it a go and see what impact this has on your next rehab marketing campaign.

How-to allocate your rehab center marketing budget.

Here’s how you can break up your marketing budget and get the most mileage out of the above-mentioned integrated marketing tactics.

Suppose you have an annual marketing budget of $100,000 – that’s about $8,333 / monthly, which is a very small budget by industry standards.

Do you hire a big shot media agency to spend it all on creating a sleek landing page and ad campaign?

Or maybe you have been long thinking of buying some phone calls to keep your admission team busy, irrespective of how poorly the calls to bed conversion ratios are.

The point is, it is very easy to get carried away with hiring and firing agencies or jumping from one marketing channel to another.

By the time you realize this, your marketing budget can be gone.

So, don’t rush it.

Come up with the best options that compliment both your marketing team and admission team’s capabilities.

Here’s is a sample budget breakdown:
  • Building Your Referral Network & Marketing – $40,000
    • 40% of your overall annual marketing budget
    • Make sure you commit to activates that will grow your professional network
    • Link building and keyword rankings should be the outcome of organic referral marketing and expert-level content campaigns
    • Developing meaningful relationships w/ strategic partners is one of the best ways to create sustainable growth for your business
  • Top-of-the-funnel Advertising & Brand awareness – $30,000
    • 30% of your overall annual marketing budget
    • Make sure you have a follow-up system in place before doing a brand awareness campaign
    • The longer you can extend the customer journey the more chances you get to convert them into a paying customer
  • Educational Content Creation & Marketing – $20,000
    • 20% of your overall annual marketing budget should be spent on program education content
    • The less a potential patient questions your program, the better the chance of commitment
  • $10,000 Reputation Management
    • 10% of your overall annual marketing budget should be spent on managing your online reputation

Of course, the rules of this allocation are not written in stone and you can tweak your budget according to your preference and observations, but the above pointers must be seen from the perspective of integrated marketing for a small or medium-sized rehab center.

Referral Networking & Marketing

A smart rehab center invests in building relationships with strategic partners and relies on them to grow its census organically. In an industry that once relied heavily on incentivizing referrals, a true organic referral from a strategic partner may sound like a pipe dream.

But wait.

In an industry dominated by big brands and high budget lead aggregator directories, doing exactly the opposite of what these big shots are doing seems like the only logical and smart thing to do.

Don’t you agree?

When people are looking for treatment help – for themselves or for their loved ones – rest assure they would rather trust someone who has had a direct experience with a rehab center than an ad they come across on TV, online, or in a print ad.

This is why we suggest that you allocate the biggest chunk of your budget on building your professional referral network and on B2B word-of-mouth marketing.

You can build your referral network through the following people:

  • Your former alumni who successfully graduated
  • Friends and relatives of patients who have had good experiences at your rehab center
  • Other rehab centers who would like to refer patients when they cannot accommodate them
  • Physicians or doctors
  • Nonprofit organizations raising awareness against drug addiction
  • Lawyers and firms who work with local law enforcement

Final Thoughts

To be frank, budgeting is difficult.

Something that works great for rehab center A may give mediocre results for rehab center B.

A small to medium size rehab center may not have the budget to compete against the national brands but they can build sustainable growth by establishing a long-term connection with other local drug addiction centers, health professionals, or former patients.

But this blog post is less about promoting a new type of marketing such as organic referral marketing and more about stressing on the point that you should avoid spending all your marketing budget on a single marketing channel.

So, be smart about your rehab marketing. Assign your primary and secondary marketing budgets and see your ROIs improve.

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Vince Tint
Written By Vince Tint

Vince Tint is a seasoned digital consultant and a passionate SEO expert. Starting his career with a background in marketing and quickly learning the art of Digital Marketing, Vince Tint helped grow one of the biggest Addiction Rehab brands in the United States.

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