How Much To Invest on Dental Marketing?
This is a question that every dentist asks themselves at some point during their career. It’s true that every practice is different, with different profit goals, market demographics, and other qualities. But while there is no right or wrong answer to the question in terms of an actual dollar figure, there are some general business guidelines and industry averages that can help you determine where your marketing investment needs to be to keep your practise at optimum performance.
First ~ Develop a Marketing Budget
We covered this in a previous article and also gave you a worksheet to help you set and maintain an appropriate budget based on your practise strategy and goals. If you missed that you can jump straight to the worksheet here => Dental-Practise-Marketing-Budget-Worksheet
Understand the Concept of the Marketing Mix
Just as important as knowing how much to invest on your overall marketing, it’s important to know where, specifically, to make those investments. This is where a marketing agency or consultant can save you a lot of time and confusion. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Your Online Reputation: This is the first thing your prospective new patients will see before they step into your office. Many Dentists have the mistaken belief that a beautiful office or a good looking website is their introduction but the reality is more than 80% of all prospective patients will check you out online before they ever call. Have you ‘Googled’ yourself ~ your practise? The majority of prospective patients will make their decision to call or not long before they ever see your website. In fact more and more web searchers won’t even make it to your website. Their decision is made in those first nanoseconds when your reputation is there in plain site. This makes developing a feedback system that encourages happy patients to leave a review online while capturing powerful feedback through patient experience surveys your #1 marketing priority.
- Your Website: This really is your practise brochure. After a prospective patient sees your online reputation they sometimes want to know more, to get a little more detail about what your practise has to offer and how you can help them solve their problem or reach their goal. Creating, updating and maintaining your website needs to be viewed as an important investment, not just an expense or something you ‘set and forget’. This isn’t an area where you want to skimp on either. Your website is a direct reflection of your brand. It tells the public about the philosophy, quality and reputation of your practise.
- Advertising: Every dental practice has a different advertising mix that works best for them to get new patients through the door. This could include everything from Traditional Advertising like, direct mail postcards, radio and newspaper ads to digital marketing with it’s laser targeting benefits.
- Social Media: While some aspects of social media are technically free, it can leave you feeling frustrated, over budget and burnt out. This is not to discount the power of Social Media. IN fact the vast amount of data available to advertisers who know what they are doing can result in the most cost effective, results driven form of marketing available today. Effective Social Media tactics requires a lot of time to make sure that your practice is utilizing social media correctly to grow your practice. Typically, this involves paying someone to analyze data and develop targeted marketing messages that keep your audience engaged and keep your practise top of mind. It’s also important to build account maintenance and digital patient communications into your office staff duties. Keep accounts regularly updated and responding to reviews, requests, messages, questions, etc. lets your patients know you are there for them in the virtual world as well as the physical world.
- Discounts: Many practices often forget that discounts need to be considered a part of your marketing mix and allocated appropriately. If it’s a tactic you use to get patients through the door, it counts as a part of your marketing mix. Even if you might be offering free x-rays or exams, it still counts toward time for your hygienists and staff.
Know Your Marketing Numbers and Let them be Your Score
Most dentists wonder how much they need to be spending on marketing to grow, or even maintain, their dental practise. Without a budget and a plan they often think they are either spending too much or too little. Most of the time they err on the former which can result in ineffective marketing like buying based on price instead of investing based on a pre-planned goal and strategy to get there.
Finding The Right Balance
Now that you know where to invest your marketing dollars lets look at some general guidelines for overall budgeting. A reminder, if you haven’t already reviewed and completed the worksheet I encourage you to jump to that now=> Dental-Practise-Marketing-Budget-Worksheet. Since every practice has a different level of revenue, a general rule of thumb is to look at a percentage of revenue to invest rather than a dollar amount. On average, you need to be investing about 5% of your practice’s annual revenue towards marketing. Some practices invest upward of 8% or more, particularly if they are either a startup trying to build a new patient base or a thriving practice that is looking to expand their business and profitability.
When it comes down to it, the most important aspect of marketing is that you’re getting an effective return from every dollar you’re investing. If your practice is investing an average of 5% of its revenue on marketing but you’re still not filling up your schedule or achieving the profit goals you want, it’s time to reconsider and review how effective the tactics in your marketing mix are.
At Release Dynamics we specialize in helping our clients make the most of their marketing budget with effective ROI based digital marketing programs. Contact us today to learn how we can help you improve your ROI and get more patients through your door.