How to Allot the Practice’s Marketing Budget

Most dental and orthodontic practices regularly reinvest about 6% of their annual production back into marketing. For the practice that produces $850,000 each year, that means $4,250 per month is invested in marketing. In 9 years advising hundreds of practices, I have rarely seen one be successful with less than a $30,000 annual marketing budget.

By setting an overall marketing budget, the practice is more likely to produce a return on investment. You’ll have a single set figure month over month to most accurately measure your marketing success.

Next, decide where to invest. Notice I did not say “decide where you want to invest.” Marketing should always be backed by strategy not opinion.

Survey your best patients to understand what marketing tactics they and their peers are or are not likely to consume. Ask questions like:

  • How likely are you to click on Google AdWords?
  • How likely are you to select a healthcare provider based upon direct mail?
  • How important is a healthcare provider’s website to you in deciding whether or not to initially visit that practice?

Use a Likert scale in order to gather the most precise data.

Then have a look at what the competition is doing. If four out of five competitors are advertising in the city magazine, steer clear. If none of them are doing television or radio ads, consider investing there. (But only if your surveys showed that your patients and their friends and family would pay attention to those tactics.)

There are many possible things you can be doing for marketing right now. Here’s a basic list:

  • Recall marketing
  • Reputation management/online reviews
  • Search engine optimization
  • Website development
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, other online ads
  • Email campaigns
  • Referral marketing
  • Thank you cards
  • Practice brochure
  • Welcome packet
  • Television ads
  • Radio ads
  • Public relations
  • Outdoor ads/billboards
  • Direct mail
  • Print ads
  • Community event sponsorship
  • Marketing to referring doctors
  • Open houses
  • Patient appreciation events
  • Professional lecture presentations
  • Point-of-sales campaigns
  • Retargeting ads
  • LinkedIn lead mining

Did you break out in hives considering all of the possibilities?

Not to worry. Based upon the findings from your research (the surveys and competitor analysis), you can pick just five of these to focus on for now.

And finally, for the big question: How to know what part of the budget to allot to what?

Gather estimates for each of the five tactics you wish to deploy. Direct mail can be an investment of tens of thousands of dollars and can translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars of production when done well in the right markets. By contrast, the average U.S. marketing firm charges just $750 per month for search engine optimization services.

Think not, “How much should I spend?”

Think instead, “What is the overall budget I’m willing to invest, and what are the top five things that are best for me to do now?”

That’s investing for a healthy return!