When I started in the industry 25 years ago, it was generally considered “taboo” or “unbecoming” for a dentist to market their practice. Well, as all things do, times have changed. Now, dentists, by and large, have come to terms with the reality of the business side of dentistry and it’s rare to find a doctor who hasn’t at least tried marketing in one form or another.
That being said, as an industry, dentistry still tends to handle the subject of marketing in an haphazard manner. Worried about wasting money and with most lacking marketing savvy, there’s a lot of “I think I’ll try a postcard” here and “maybe some Google ads will do the trick” there. No real solid plan in mind. You see a lot of random attempts at promotion that may or may not have a lasting impact on new patients. And in most cases they don’t.
All right, so you need a plan. And it has to work. But even more basic than this, you have to have some idea of what you want to spend – what your dental marketing budget will be! After all, how much marketing you can actually do and how much you are willing to spend are inextricably linked.
How much marketing should you do and how much should you spend?
How much you do (assuming it’s a good plan and that it will work – more on this later) has everything to do with you personally. Specifically, how much growth are you looking for? How aggressively you want to grow would have everything to do with how much you would need to spend. That said, sustained growth has one other component: using a percentage of revenues for marketing as opposed to a permanently fixed monthly budget.
The advantage of using a percentage is that your marketing budget grows with your practice. The more you expand, the more you can market and the more you will in turn expand. It feeds on itself; sort of a continual growth “machine.”
Just throwing a lump sum at a marketing company or basing your investment on how many people have told you that you “need to have” this or that doesn’t give you the ability to plan long-term or predict results. Using a percentage is more efficient in terms of calculating expenses and gives you better control over your marketing campaigns.
It’s simple. But the best solutions always are.
But what if your practice ISN’T growing?
Assume you’re running on a percentage and there is NO growth. Well, here’s where we get into what I mentioned earlier: your marketing has to work. How do you know if it’s working? It gets adequate, predictable response! You can’t short circuit this cycle – meaning you can’t expect marketing to “get you new patients.” It gets you a response that you can turn INTO a new patient and that’s where the front desk comes in. But before you worry about this, you have to track whether your marketing is creating phone calls, emails and so on. Otherwise, you’ll never know if it actually works.
If you truly know what potential new patients want, promote your practice through the right media, use economical means to get the best bang for your buck and if your front desk is on the ball—you’ll see more new patients (and more patients of record getting back into the chair).
If that’s not happening to a satisfactory degree, you’re missing the boat somehow.
So if your marketing isn’t resulting in practice growth—something is very, very wrong.
The mistakes could be:
- Sending the wrong message (e.g. advertising high-end technology when people in your neighborhood really just want a friendly family dentist.
- Sending the right message to the wrong people (e.g. sending denture promotions to an area of town with mostly 20-40 year olds).
- Having a poor online presence (because no matter what type of marketing you do, people will find you online before calling).
- Mishandling phone calls (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen marketing campaigns create new patient calls like a charm, only to have the front desk bungle the calls and fail to schedule them).
- Ignoring your existing patient base (patients of record are easier to reach, more accepting of treatment, and are more likely to refer others to you than new patients. In fact, odds are you could significantly increase your total collections just by getting your patient base more active—which in turn creates more new patient referrals).
The good news is we show you how to fix all of the above at the MGE New Patient Workshop).
There are a lot of options out there for marketing companies. There are companies that will do a postcard for you or a build a website. The quality varies quite a bit from company to company. That’s not what we do. We don’t design websites or postcards. We show you how to organize your practice to turn it into a “new patient machine” that generates new patients consistently.
What is the MGE New Patient Workshop?
There’s more that goes into a steadily expanding patient base than just a mailer or occasional advertising effort. Internal marketing needs to be optimized, external marketing needs to be based on surveys and have costs calculated to ensure it’s a worthy investment, the front desk needs to be trained to turn phone calls into appointments, and you need to have a sensible plan and budget.
All of these things need to be coordinated properly and the MGE New Patient Workshop is the best place in the industry to learn how. It comes with a full money-back guarantee, so you’ve got nothing to lose. Give us a call today at (800) 640-1140 or (800) 530-4277.