Marketing is strategic. As a dentist, you don't open a patient's mouth and start treatment without first doing an exam, charting existing restorations, taking x-rays and recording periodontal measurements. As a practice owner, you should approach marketing the same way — that is to say, with appropriate preparations and a detailed plan in place!
At myDentalCMO, we specialize in marketing plans for dental practices, from concept through execution and every step in between. Contact us to discover if our marketing plan analysis, plan creation and team training is right for your practice!
Too Many Dental Practices "Fail" at Marketing
All dental practices need a marketing plan — but, astonishingly, most of them don't! Of those that do have a plan, many are not receiving a reasonable return on investment (ROI). This is because most dentists who realize they need a marketing plan proceed as follows:
- Look at what their competitors are doing.
- Call the website company or a local magazine or other marketing company that offers the service they've decided on using.
- Buy a "marketing campaign" — without asking crucial questions, or considering that what the practice across town might be doing might not be right for their OWN practice.
- Become frustrated and confused when their campaign doesn't deliver the desired results.
An effective marketing plan should include a variety of different tactics but a website company isn't going to remind you about the benefits of community involvements and your local magazine isn't going to provide social media marketing.
Because most practices don't formulate a plan BEFORE seeking marketing outlets, their marketing campaigns almost ALWAYS fail. These dentists end up making one costly mistake after another, not realizing that they are wasting their marketing budget on narrow, shortsighted plans that go nowhere. They quickly become frustrated when nothing they try seems to work out.
Who Really Needs a Marketing Plan?
Everyone needs a marketing plan! Starting, owning and operating a dental practice is the same as running any business, and every business needs a marketing plan (in fact, if you were to apply for a small business loan, your marketing plan would be one of the first things the lender would ask to see.)
Marketing plans aren't just for dentists who "advertise". Marketing plans aren't just for dentists with BIG marketing budgets. Marketing plans are for ALL smart business owners, and understanding exactly what a marketing plan should be built on is the first step.
What Goes into a Marketing Plan?
Creating a strong, effective marketing plan starts with knowing some key information. This is where an evaluation of your practice comes in handy — you can analyze all of the statistics and formulate a sensible marketing plan that is tailored specifically to YOUR practice, instead of adopting the latest tactic you learned about at a CE event or blindly copying what colleagues and competitors are doing.
Here are just a few of the stats you should be considering:
- How many "ACTIVE" patients you have. Varied definitions of an "active" patient exist. Some dentists and advisors define it as a patient seen, at least once, in the last 12, 18 or 24 months. Others advocate the need for a scheduled hygiene appointment as the true "definition" for active. Specialty practices, also, have different definitions. One thing is certain, the number your dental software "spits out" is most likely incorrect. It's crucial to know how many patients you really have — so you can determine how many you need to grow!
- Your practice attrition rate. Even if you do everything perfectly, patients will pass on, move away, or shift to more specialized care. You need to know how many patients you lose annually so you can tell how many new ones you have to acquire to maintain or grow your practice.
- What your average new patient is "worth". This is the figure you can expect to produce from an average new patient in the first 12 months they are a part of your practice. This number can vary widely from practice to practice depending on specialty, fees, insurance participation and case acceptance percentages. Amazingly, many dentists don't know what this figure is!
- What your average existing patient is "worth". This is the figure each existing patient can be expected to generate annually for your practice. Again, this varies widely since some practices see patients only a few times for specialized procedures and others see patients regularly several times a year for decades.
Once you know how many patients you have and how much they are worth, as well as how many new patients you need and how much THEY are worth, you can calculate how much you can afford to spend to acquire a new patient.
Some practices spend less than $50 for each new patient and others spend upward of $1,000. The difference will depend on several factors, the most obvious of which is how much the patient is worth on their first visit (a visit for a preventive cleaning vs. a visit for a root canal and crown, for example.)
Who Should Your Marketing Plan Target?
Like it or not, all new patients are NOT created equal. In some practices, a mere 10% of patients produce over half of the practice's revenue. The smart thing to do is to figure out:
- Who these patients are
- Why they are so valuable
- How to get more of them
- How much they cost to acquire
These patients will vary depending on your type of practice. They could be the ones who simply need more dental work than the average patient, who want more cosmetic services, who have "better" insurance, additional discretionary incomes, and so on.
While your practice should focus in bringing in a wide variety of patients, these important "high production" patients should be given special consideration when formulating a marketing plan.
How Can myDentalCMO Help?
We can thoroughly analyze your practice to reveal a "top-level" view of all your marketing activities, practice data, new patient flow, and existing patient retention. We focus on identifying crucial data points such as the worth of both your new and existing patients, the cost of patient acquisition, who your "high revenue" patients are and how to get more of them.
Next, we explore areas of opportunity in branding, web/social media, external marketing, internal marketing, community involvement, public relations and doctor marketing activities. Finally, we create a 12-month marketing plan and budget that is designed to help grow your practice and present it to you. We even offer optional on-site, over the phone or webinar based training for your team!