How Much Should A Dentist Spend On Marketing?
by Tyson Downs
There’s no one-size-fits-all online marketing strategy for dentists. The exact types of marketing you need and the amount of money you should spend on marketing will vary from one practice to the next. However, there are certain things that hold true for all dentists trying to come up with a marketing budget. In this post, we’ll tell you how you can determine your dental practice’s marketing budget, and where to go from there.
How to think of your marketing budget
Assuming you are just beginning to market your practice, you should think of the dental SEO marketing budget you set now as a starting point. When you’re in the “new launch” phase, you will want to spend the minimum amount of marketing dollars required to grow your practice. Once you’re past the new launch phase, you won’t have to spend as much money in order to continue expanding.
As time passes, you will likely have new marketing objectives — for instance, to get a certain number of new patients each month. Every time you have a new goal, you will need to adjust your marketing spend accordingly. But for now, let’s set your starting marketing budget based on the primary, simple objective for new dental practices: growth.
Factors to consider when calculating your marketing budget
We generally caution healthcare professionals against setting their marketing budget based solely on their revenue. Why’s this? Well, there are other important factors at play.
For example, a brand-new practice probably won’t have any revenue yet —you can’t calculate 20 percent of zero. Moreover, not all dental practices will have the same goals. As mentioned, your initial goal will probably just be growth.
Down the road, your goals should grow more specific. An established practice will spend a smaller portion of their revenue year-round, but will run periodic campaigns to meet a specific goal, such as creating awareness around a new service they are offering.
In addition to your stage of growth and specific marketing goals, the level of competition in your area will also determine how much you need to spend on marketing.
Creating a percentage-based budget
Just to give you some actual numerical idea of how much you should be spending, let’s simplify things and assume your goal is to just get your name out there and attract new patients. I hate to give percentages, because there really is so many variables! If your practice is new, then ideally, should be spending between 20 to 30% of your gross revenue on marketing.
For practices facing stiff local competition, that number should be closer to 30 percent. Dentists with very little local competition might get away with spending 20 percent. If your practice is too new to know your revenue yet, you can use a projection of your gross revenue.
Assuming this is your first major marketing campaign, don’t be afraid to err on the side of spending more money as opposed to less. When it comes to marketing your dental practice, the old adage “You need to spend money in order to make money” is true. Devote a healthy portion of your initial startup capital toward marketing. As long as you do it right, your initial marketing campaign is an investment that will pay off down the road.
What comes next after setting your dental marketing budget
Now that you have a better idea of what you need to spend on marketing your dental practice, it’s time to get started. Get some estimates for building a high-converting dentist website and also for your first direct mail campaign. This will give you some specific numbers for your initial marketing spend.
Once your website is in place, you can embark on your grand opening campaign. The best way to do this is with direct mail. Buy a list of people in the area or areas you want to target, and then target those folks with a postcard campaign with some limited-time grand opening offers. Make sure you allow enough time to send your list multiple postcards before the official grand opening date.
Image source: DentalMarketing.net
Using a direct mail company like Postcard Mania, you can integrate online marketing with your direct mail campaign so that online ads with your postcard offers will display to the same people that receive your postcards. Some direct mail providers also include features like mail tracking and call tracking. Whichever provider you choose, make sure your campaign includes online followup features to maximize the impact of your direct mail campaign.
Other parts of your marketing spend
In addition to your website and direct mail campaign, your marketing budget should also include the following strategies:
Most of these marketing strategies are ongoing, which means you’ll probably hire an outside dental SEO/marketing agency that charges you a monthly fee. Be sure to comparison shop and check reviews to ensure that you work with a high-quality dental marketing firm that won’t rip you off.
Finally, as this Dental Economics article outlines, in a broad sense, your marketing budget should also include office improvements that will make people want to choose your practice, such as upgrading to latest dental technologies, and maintaining a nice reception area.
Sample Dental Marketing Budget
As mentioned, the exact amount you spend will depend on numerous factors, including your goals and the level of competition in your area. But here are just some sample ideas of what the average dentist might spend in various areas.
Branding/logo creation – Initial investment of $5,000 to $6,000
Online Marketing (SEO, Pay Per Click, Review Management, Social Media Marketing, etc. – $1,000 to $5,000/month (the variance will be determined by competitiveness of your market-what are your competitors doing? Your growth goals, and your budget.)
Office improvements (including technology) – $3,000 to $4,000/year
Internal marketing (i.e., discounts and rewards programs for loyal patients) – 1-2% of fee revenue
To get further insight into how to budget for your dental practice marketing campaign, read our blog post How Much Do Dental SEO Services Cost? Once you get to the stage where you’re shopping around for a dental marketing firm, download our Consumer Awareness Guide to Choosing an Online Marketing Agency.
About the Author
Tyson Downs, the owner of Titan Web Agency, has years of experience working with small businesses and helping them meet their revenue goals. Prior to starting Titan Web Agency, he freelanced in SEO and Web Design while working in the corporate world. Tyson is a graduate of Brigham Young University, the father of 5, and enjoys spending time with his family. Particularly on the baseball field.