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Determining Your Dental Practice Marketing Budget

When it comes to branding and marketing, Ryan Vet has a wealth of experience. He’s worked with large brands like Warner Brothers, Samsung, and Bing. He also advises dental practices across the country on how to create effective dental marketing campaigns and how to create an amazing patient experience once they call or come in to the practice.


Establish Your Marketing ROI Goals

When Ryan Vet is talking to a dentist, one of the first questions he asks is, “What do you want to achieve from your marketing efforts?” This is the return on investment (ROI).

For example, is it a specific number of new patients? Is it a specific number of new cases for a procedure like Invisalign® or dental implants? Is it brand awareness or to show your practice is active in the community?

Once you’ve established what you want to achieve, then the discussion can turn to determining the right marketing tactics and budget. There are a lot of options, and the cost varies depending on the marketing tactic and the audience reach it will have. For example, television ads can reach a wide audience, but will cost a lot more than Facebook ads.

Test and Measure Marketing Results

If you are spending $1,000 a month on dental marketing, it’s easy to say, “That’s too little. You aren’t giving marketing a shot.” But you can gradually increase what you invest and measure the return on investment. For example, invest $3,000 a month and see if you get a return on investment. If you do, invest $4,000 a month and so on, until your ROI flattens out. Once you see a flat or diminishing return, don’t invest more in marketing each month.  

“The amount you spend varies from practice to practice,” says Vet. “For every dollar you put in, you need to measure your ROI.”

You also need to test where you are investing those dollars and build a foundation of marketing tactics that work for you. “Some practices prefer their local magazine. Some prefer the park bench or billboard. I would recommend going digital because it’s so much easier to track.”

And then, you have to give it enough time to see if it works. “Nine times out of 10, you have to give it 60 to 90 days to even see if it's going to work. So, commit to it,” says Vet.

Pay Attention to Competitors

In some markets, the competition for new patients is fierce. That drives up the cost. Specialty practices often out-spend general dentists to get market share.

“I've worked with practices that had $30,000 a month budgeted. They are specialists and they do radio, print and digital. They do all sorts of campaigns,” Vet said He stresses that as long as there is a return on investment, it doesn’t matter how much you spend. Just make sure your dental practice has the capacity to see the new patients when the respond to the ad and call.

Keep Your Dental Marketing Investment in Perspective

Ten thousand a month “is not a lot of money if you're getting a hundred grand back (in revenue),” says Vet. Many dental practices have never reached their true potential because they look at the absolute number or percentage and not the relative benefit. They experience sticker shock.

Here are some ways to confirm your dental marketing efforts are worth it, and that you’re seeing the return on investment. First, ask new patients how they found you. Second, use tracking phone numbers on each marketing channel. These are custom phone numbers that forward to your main line. If you use a tracking phone number on your Dental Implant Google Ad campaign, and a different tracking phone number on the postcard you mailed out, then you’ll get a report that shows exactly how many people called from each marketing tactic. You begin to see the value of each dollar you invest and the types of marketing that work best for you. You build a foundation of knowledge that gives you confidence to invest more in marketing until you reach capacity.

Internal Marketing Contributes to ROI

Ryan Vet recommends also investing in the practice itself. You invest in your building, your technology, your staff, and what you do for patients. By creating a great patient experience, they will want to come back and refer others. “You have to look at the lifetime value of a patient, not just the first patient appointment. What do they earn your practice over the course of a year, three years, five years, or seven years?”

But you’ll only know which marketing efforts are driving the right kind of patients to your practice if you measure it.

About this Industry Leader:

Ryan Vet - Profile Pic

Ryan Vet

Leadership Speaker, Author and Dental Marketing Consultant

Ryan Vet is an entrepreneur, author and national speaker in dentistry. From his first start-up when he was 14 to executive leadership roles including at an Inc 500 company, Ryan shares how to turn ordinary opportunities into extraordinary experiences for everyone you meet. Ryan's experiences have allowed him to work with national brands including Warner Brothers and Samsung. He fell in love with the dental industry while his wife, Jessica, was attending the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill pursuing her DDS.

Ryan is as an official member of the Forbes Communications Council where his insights are shared in both Forbes.com articles and on expert panels. You can also find his writings in Dental Economics and other dental publications. Ryan is the host of The Dental Experience Podcast, on which Patient Prism calls and coaching can be heard. He's presented at local and national dental conferences including Hinman Dental Meeting, Yankee Dental Congress, Florida Dental Convention, and the American Association of Dental Office Managers. In addition to his entrepreneurial ventures in dental, Ryan owns two craft beverage lounges that serve coffee, craft beer, fine wine and whiskey called The Oak House!

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