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Marketing a dental practice 101
Much of marketing involves testing which is a fancy word for trial and error. My dad was considered Madison Avenue's top copywriter back in the day. One of the original Mad Men.
His client roster was a who's who of Fortune 500 companies. He would submit copy to a client but, the copy would always be tested on a very small slice of the client's database. If the test produced the desired percentage of response than it would be used for the entire database.
If not, back to the drawing board. You can increase your chance of success by getting surveys done first which you can then base your promotion on. My dad wrote his copy instinctively without surveys.
But surveys cost money and most dental practices, especially dental offices that are struggling with new patients, have a fairly limited marketing budget. So what to do?
Keeping track of each marketing action’s results is a vital management function for any dental practice. You can try different marketing actions to see what produces response with the best ROI. What will work in one town may not work in another town. Door hangers might work great for you. In another town they may not. They may even be a turnoff. Who knows until you do some testing?
Equally important is what the offer will be. For example a discounted new patient exam might produce a response in your area or it might not. Perhaps an offer of teeth whitening will produce the desired response. It's all about testing (trial and error) to see what works for the best ROI.
With our clients we like to approach marketing as follows:
1. Institute a good internal marketing program which success is based on assigning responsibility of it to one staff member and monitoring the program with weekly statistics. For an established practice, we generally find that's all we need to do to generate the number of new patients needed for the practice.
2. If internal marketing alone does not produce the desired results we recommend looking first at the least expensive overall marketing actions available such as newspaper ads where financially feasible (rural and suburban towns), websites with SEO work as well as Google PPC campaigns provided you have somebody who knows what they're doing. Websites done correctly (see Dr. Mike Barr's book) can be a bit costly but the costs are up front for the most part so once the website is up you're really only talking the cost of maintenance and the hosting fee on a monthly basis. Improving signage at your dental practice location can be one of the best ROIs. In fact, good office signage would probably be the first thing to do as far as external marketing.
Kevin Tighe, Cambridge Dental Consultants, Senior Consultant, got bitten hard by the business and marketing bug during long summer days working at his dad's Madison Avenue ad agency. After joining Cambridge as a speaker in the mid-1990s, Kevin went on to become Cambridge's senior consultant and eventually CEO. Cambridge Dental Consultants is a full-service dental practice management company offering customized dental office manuals. Frustrated? High overhead? Schedule a chat with Kevin at