Like most businesses, dental practices are not immune to the effects of the economy, and, lately, the pandemic. Peaks and valleys in revenues are normal. Any time revenues begin to inch down, many practice owners react by cutting back on the line item they think is most expendable: Marketing. This is almost always a mistake.
When you cut your marketing budget, you effectively slam the door on new patients, and you reduce your potential revenue. If you are new to the profession, you may not realize how closely linked marketing and revenue are.
The competition for patients is too fierce to stop marketing your practice — the kind of marketing that is tailored to the people you want in your chairs. Your practice might be near a school and benefit from drawing young families who like convenience. You might want to advertise your excellent restorative work to a retiree-rich zip code or teeth bleaching and veneers to young professionals. How do you reach them?
Today’s businesses cannot survive through word of mouth and referrals alone. Your practice needs to attract new patients on an ongoing basis, not just in the weeks following a postcard blast or mass email. A scattershot approach is a waste of money. You want to capture potential patients’ attention week after week, month after month. It takes at least seven exposures for them to remember you. This is especially true with a profession that still, unfortunately, invokes fear; it is imperative that you establish trust.
In addition to attracting new patients, you need to solidify and maintain the loyalty of your existing patients. It is important to keep them looped into any specials you want to run, new services you offer, and the latest developments in the dental world. Social media marketing can be just the solution.
Consistent, effective marketing keeps you top of mind.
When your marketing budget increases, stronger revenue follows. Several factors influence how much your practice should allocate to marketing, including these:
- Are you a new practice? You may need to invest more until you have established a solid patient base.
- Do you want to maintain growth for your established practice? Compare your current rate of new patient acquisition to the number of patients lost annually to determine how your current budget is performing.
- Is business stagnant or decreasing? Consider investing an additional 5 or 10 percent above your current marketing budget, at least until the trend reverses.
- How competitive is your local market? Higher competition requires greater investment to grow business. You must find, build on, and market your differentiator — and not stop.
Can you still afford to market your dental practice in leaner times? You can’t afford not to. For customized advice regarding your marketing budget and business growth, contact the Academy of Dental CPAs today.