Dental Practice Marketing Plans

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When it comes to marketing a dental practice, you need a plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Many dentists take a reactive approach to promoting their practice rather than an organized and proactive approach. If a marketing opportunity arises, they may bite.

But something is missing. There isn't a systematic plan in place designed to increase awareness and facilitate new patient inflow.

Marketing never succeeds when it's done on the fly. You have to put a plan in place and follow the plan.

So what's in your dental practice marketing plan for the rest of the year? Here are some things to consider:
  • Budgets — What's your total budget for dental practice marketing? Define a budget for marketing at the beginning of the year and stick to it. For example, some dentists allocate 5% of the previous year's gross revenues to current year marketing.
  • Cost Per New Dental Patient — How much are you willing to spend to get a new customer? If you pay $5,000 for a yellow pages ad and it generates five new customers, your customer acquisition costs are $1,000 per customer. How much profit do you make on a single customer per year? Your dental practice marketing plan should be based on an acceptable customer acquisition costs for every new customer.
  • Marketing Alternatives — Start with a list of marketing options. That might include Yellow Pages ads, new patient direct mailings, practice brochures, Web sites, sponsoring a local soccer team and many other ideas. Assign costs to each alternative and likely results. Then, prioritize your marketing investments based on the biggest bang for your buck.
  • Focus on New and Existing Customers — If you focus exclusively on new patient inflow, you may be missing a bet. Keeping your existing patients happy is a valuable marketing exercise because they are a great source of referrals to new customers. Simple ideas like post-treatment calls — "Just checking in to make sure everything is going well with your new crowns."  can greatly increase customer love for your dental practice, and many good things will come from that enhanced affection.
  • Positioning — Second only to "location, location, location," a valuable mantra for your dental practice is "positioning, positioning, positioning." In other words, when people talk about your dental practice, what do you want them to be saying? Are you the friendliest dentists in town? Are you the place to go for teeth whitening? It's important that you stand for something, and every aspect of your dental practice should support that market positioning.
  • Measure Results — When you get a new patient, ask them how they found you. Keep a scorecard that shows how each of your marketing investments are doing. If something is working well for you, it may make sense to put a few more dollars into that particular marketing vehicle.
  • Ask an Expert — Consider engaging a marketing consultant. An objective discussion with an outsider can be very helpful. They bring a new set of eyes to what you are doing and a knowledge of what has worked well for their other clients. There are many dental practice marketing consultants who focus exclusively on how to grow dental practices. As an alternative, a generalist marketing consultant may also be useful as they may "think differently" and recommend some novel marketing concepts that many of your dental competitors haven't yet tried.

As a final recommendation, the most important thing you can do is to get started and put it in writing. Decide today that you are going to develop a marketing plan for your dental practice. Start to put it in writing as you think it through. Make sure to dedicate at least one day per month to marketing. If you do this, you'll be well on your way to achieving your dental practice marketing goals.