Tips for Low Budget Patient Recruitment Ad Campaigns:Maximize ROI with Traditional Marketing Collateral

In the digital age, focusing all of your attention on digital advertising might seem practical—especially when your patient recruitment advertising budget is minimal. While digital ads are relatively inexpensive and have the ability to reach a large audience, digital ads alone might not be the most effective way to recruit patients. In this article, we’ll discuss the value of traditional media and offer some simple, cost-effective ways to utilize traditional marketing collateral to maximize ROI across your entire campaign.   

The Value of Marketing Collateral

The term “marketing collateral” can encompass several different forms of media. Among the most common are traditional print materials, such as business cards, letterhead, brochures and fliers, postcards, posters, billboards, and newspaper and magazine advertisements. All of these pieces of collateral help brand your site and provide more information about your organization as they bring awareness to current or enrolling studies.

Although digital media ads certainly have their merits, it’s easy to scroll past an advertisement in a crowded digital space. Print media engages the brain for longer periods and in different ways than digital media, leading to stronger brand recognition and recall when your audience encounters information about your site or study elsewhere. Whether it’s the business card you hand out or fliers that help explain your study in patient-friendly terms, the unique trust-building and engagement attributes of traditional marketing collateral add value to any marketing campaign.   

Creating Marketing Collateral and Digital Ads: Is It Too Much Effort to Do Both?

Don’t think you have time or funds to create both digital and traditional ads? There’s no reason you shouldn’t repurpose your images and language across media—in fact, images and language you create for fliers should be repurposed for your digital marketing materials. This makes the overall design process easier and less time-consuming for your research site. Plus, when potential patients encounter the same marketing designs across all advertising efforts, brand recognition increases. Consistency can help your site and study stay top of mind, and can go a long way toward building trust with your audience.

Link Your Digital and Traditional Ads

When your marketing collateral and digital marketing efforts are linked, they support each other almost effortlessly. Aside from sharing imagery, a study-specific landing page and traditional marketing collateral can heavily benefit each other. As mentioned earlier, print advertisements engage a reader in a different way than digital media, and when your physical marketing collateral (especially fliers, brochures, posters, or other collateral explicitly geared toward patient recruitment) directs patients to a specific landing page, the lasting impression made by the physical media may encourage them to visit a landing page listed on the piece of collateral.

Linking a landing page and traditional collateral allows you to measure which marketing collateral gets patients through the door. This way, you can gauge what materials worked and what didn’t, which will inform your investments for future campaigns. Even after your digital advertisements have run their course, existing marketing collateral will remain in circulation and can continue to drive traffic to your landing page.

Distributing Marketing Collateral

A piece of collateral that directs to a landing page will only be useful if the right patients find it. For this reason, plan to display and distribute your marketing collateral in high-traffic areas within your study’s ideal patient community. This is essentially the real-life equivalent of “boosting” a Facebook ad; instead of intentionally broadcasting a Facebook post to a specific digital space relevant to your ideal patient, you’re placing physical information in specific places your potential patients might frequent. The location could be somewhere as simple as the waiting room at a doctor’s office or a local university’s dining hall.  

When placing marketing collateral, it’s important to keep in mind the audience you’re trying to reach. For example, if you’re recruiting patients for a juvenile ADHD study, it may make sense to post fliers in the public library, daycare centers, or elementary schools—places where parents are likely to be coming and going with their children. Establish a positive relationship with the community in which you would like to place your marketing collateral, as it could lead to a future partnership for recruiting patients. 

Don’t forget to utilize the medical community your site belongs to. If your site is located within a larger health institution, reach out to other departments. They may be willing to post or keep a stack of fliers for your study, which could be a cost-effective way to reach your potential patient population.

Build Relationships with Your Local Community

In our experience, sites that support and engage with their local communities have had extremely successful patient recruitment campaigns. Participating in community events and engaging with organizations that support interests similar to your site’s can help to build trust within your patient population. For instance, going back to our example of recruiting for a juvenile ADHD study, getting involved with health awareness at a local elementary school might be an important way to your support of the individuals within your community affected by the indication your study is designed to help.

Having marketing collateral on hand at these events is crucial! Not only does print have the ability hold a reader’s attention longer than digital, the ability to answer potential patients’ questions face-to-face in real-time will allow for a potential patient to gain a personal connection with your site and study. This will help increase awareness of your study and site, and the physical nature of the traditional media will allow potential patients to keep the piece of collateral for future reference. With an actual experience connected to the collateral, your ad will transform from a simple piece of paper to a reminder of an experience with your site. This creates a stronger impression that could lead to further engagement across media.  


When you’re working to keep your marketing costs down while simultaneously maximizing ROI, traditional marketing collateral can be one of your biggest assets. Linking your digital and traditional ads can really work in your favor as they support each other to maximize ROI across platforms.