The Worst Marketing Mistake (And How to Avoid It)

By December 10, 2014Blog

The only thing worse than not having a marketing plan is having the wrong marketing plan. The latter wastes far more time and money.

What is a marketing plan?

Figuratively speaking, a marketing plan is the compass that sets the dental practice’s course for promotions.

A joint effort between you and your agency produces the best outcomes. It’s best if the dental practice contributes 20% of the marketing efforts while the agency delivers 80%.

Literally speaking, a marketing plan includes:

  • Documentation of quantifiable practice goals
  • A list of marketing tactics in order of priority to meet those goals
  • An assigned person/contractor/agency to execute each tactic
  • A deadline associated with delivery of each tactic
  • An investment amount associated with each tactic

Avoid developing the wrong marketing plan by asking yourself these questions:

  1. What was total production last year?
  2. What is projected total production this year?
  3. What is the goal for total production next year?
  4. How much is invested in all marketing (annually or monthly)?

These questions help the practice hone in on an appropriate marketing budget. The sweet spot may be higher than what you have invested to date. Marketing works best when a dental practice invests 5% of total production every month, every year, into marketing efforts. It’s just the same as you investing 10% into supplies and 7% into lab fees. These are all things that keep the practice running. Marketing as a regular line item on the practice financials stabilizes new patient flow over the long term.

Don’t be afraid to invest more to make more. When done well, marketing is a great investment, never an expense.

Next, document the marketing goals:

  1. What is the average value of your patient/client?
  2. Have there been any changes or developments in the practice that create a need for additional patient traffic? (New associate, acquisition, new hygienist, etc.)
  3. What are the quantifiable goals? (Increase revenue, increase number of patients, stabilize production at $X monthly, etc.)

These questions help set realistic goals. If your average patient is worth $1,500 per year and you want to increase production from $1.6 million to $2 million in the next 12 months, that means you need 267 new patients per year, or 22 new patients per month, up from what the practice is seeing now. If that feels doable to you, consider stretching the goal higher. If it feels outside of the realm of possibility, consider adjusting the goal lower.

Next, identify what will work best to get you to the goal:

  1. What marketing tactics are you currently deploying? (Referral cards, online reviews, website, etc.)
  2. Have there been particular tactics that you felt worked well in the past?
  3. What tactics make sense to deploy in the next 12 months?

Remember, it’s just a plan until you put it into motion. Be sure to assign a taskmaster, deadline and budget to each tactic.

And off you go!