Many dental practices prefer to handle marketing internally rather than outsource it to an agency or other external partner. Here are 7 key practices for getting it right when you decide to do it yourself:
- Appoint one person to spearhead the effort. Select one team member to be in charge of marketing. Before you decide if that person should be you, the dentist, take into account that marketing for the average dental practice requires 20-40 hours of work per week, depending upon the practice’s needs. It’s probably best to delegate the job to another team member. Be sure that that person is knowledgeable and passionate about marketing. Write into their job description each aspect of marketing for which they are responsible. Communicate key measures for success and check in on a monthly basis to ensure that expectations are being met.
- Train that person in marketing. It is rarely the case that a person trained in dentistry is also a master at marketing. Community colleges offer marketing courses and there are plenty of marketing conferences available across the nation. Make the most of these resources to get your marketing person trained up and ready for the task at hand. Alternatively, consider hiring someone that has a marketing degree or background.
- Start with a strategy. The goal of any solid dental practice marketing plan is to replicate great patients in droves. Survey or interview the best patients to find out how they found the practice and what sources they use to compare healthcare providers (for example, online ads, direct mail, or referral from a friend). From that information, document a marketing plan that includes only the tactics that your best patients and their peers will notice.
- Stay objective. Marketing is directly correlated to other business operations, like staff turnover rate, patient traffic numbers and, of course, the bottom line. It’s never a comfortable feeling to lose an employee, see patient traffic dwindle or have the bottom line dip. Don’t panic if you don’t see results right away or when results ebb and flow. Marketing grows and evolves with the practice and is never perfect or finished. That said…
- Stay the course. Once you agree on a marketing strategy and deploy your selected marketing tactics, hold steady for at least six months. This is how long it takes to gather the data needed to determine whether each tactic and the plan on the whole are successful. Change gears only every six months, never sooner unless there is a major change in the practice like the addition of an associate that would require you to immediately amp up marketing efforts.
- Systemize accountability. Be sure to include a phone number with call tracking in each marketing tactic and to install Google Analytics on your website. This way, you can accurately attribute patient lead sources. Ask your team marketing lead to pull reports that detail results and meet with you once monthly to review. This should only take about 30 minutes per month, and is a great way for you to see that the marketing is indeed in motion and is headed in the right general direction.
- Know when to ask for help. Trust your gut and reach out to a professional marketing firm if you ever feel that the marketing efforts are consistently falling short of what the practice needs. Most reputable agencies are happy to collaborate with your team to fine tune the plan, tactics and results.