Budgeting for marketing has been a difficult issue for most dental practices. In a previous article we discussed how to determine a marketing budget for your dental practice. The issue is after you have determined your budget how do you buy the media needed to support your marketing goals effectively?
Step 1: Determine Your Audience
The first step is to determine what types of patients you want in your practice. If you’re a cosmetic dentist you probably want high income homes that may skew 45+ in age. If you’re a general family dentist you’re probably looking for that 30-50 year old mom. The important thing is to not narrow down your market too much. A potential new patient needs to see your message numerous times. The more people who see your message AND relate to it the better chance you have of significantly growing your new patient base.
Step 2: Business Research
Have a staff member be a designated community development manager. Actually make it their primary job. In this step they need to determine what businesses are located in your area and what insurances are accepted. People are busy these days and a teeth cleaning on their lunch break is very convenient for them. If you don’t accept their insurance look into it. If they don’t provide dental insurance provide a Dental Savings Plan flyer and have them distribute them to their employees. How to set-up a Dental Savings Plan.
Step 3: Local Media Aggregation
This is a very important step. Find out what local mediums are available in your area. Accumulate all local papers, magazines, and relevant media that is specific to your area. Find out about local supermarkets, movie theaters, malls, fairs, festivals, sporting events, local school sponsorships, etc. Knowing what is available, the costs, demographics, and audience size will help you determine which mediums have the best value for your practice.
Step 4: Build Your Online Presence
If you don’t have a website that you can change content on frequently or one that is not responsive for mobile and tablets you need to have a new website built. This is crucial in building out your presence online. Online PPC campaigns can still work if your site is set up correctly and sitelink extensions are used. Mobile campaigns are growing in popularity and can be the most cost effective advertising for a dentist. If your website is not set-up for mobile than running a mobile campaign will be counterproductive and a waste of money.
Step 5: Don’t Follow Everyone Else
You know what I mean here. If there’s five dentists in a local magazine it might be tempting to put an ad in yourself. The reality is that there are places where competition is limited or none at all. Seek those out and don’t be scared to be a pioneer. Most dentists never thought of doing a billboard until the first one put theirs up. Look for places where there is a captive audience such as malls, movie theaters, and even gas pumps (look it’s a captive audience).
Step 6: Staff Training
If you are going to do any marketing at all you have to make sure you have your internal systems in place. Making sure your front desk staff can convert your marketing calls is a huge deal. Have a consultant come in and do some training and then track the marketing calls using a staff efficiency grader. Look at it this way: If a new patient over the course of a year is worth $1,000 to you and your staff missed or didn’t convert 20 patients in a month, that’s $20,000 you missed out on. In my opinion this is the most important step in putting together an effective marketing strategy.
Even if you want to handle your marketing yourself it would still be a good idea to consult a marketing professional to make sure you have put together effective media buys. Media sales reps are trained to get the most out of their product and know directly working with a business owner will generate more profit. Have a marketing professional or media buyer educate you on what to look for.