With the end of every year, comes the time when budgets should be created.
A successful practice knows how they did this year, what they will be doing next year and the goal for the next five years. Those who prepare have success on their side. These forward-thinking doctors know what it takes to be part of the digital revolution while utilizing the tried and true approach of print media and the lost art of direct mail. Combining these techniques helps doctors to make their practice strong online while allowing traditional approaches to take them to new heights. Many practices think that avoiding old ways and going all-digital is the best solution, but we know differently. We call it Brand Loyalty around our office.

Brand Loyalty is the framework of all the essential marketing tools at the hands of any practice. This allows patients to see and connect to the doctor/practice on the level that they feel most comfortable with. Some patients will only be on their smartphones, while others still look forward to the paper they receive in the mail. Some both. Either way, your choice in marketing does matter, because the message you send out must be consistent and connect with your current and potential patients in the form that they want to be communicated to.

We know that this time of year is exhausting for everyone, but getting started as a new practice can be over-the-top grueling for a new dentist. For the purposes of this article, I will assume you have a start-up practice versus a mature dental practice. For a start-up, the percentages and dollar figures I recommend will be higher than that of a mature dental practice.

A fresh new practice is without an identity of any kind, so the office will need a logo to start off. The next step is to establish the branding items the practice will need and create a website. To work with a qualified and reputable company, you can plan on spending anywhere from $4000 to $6000, depending on your needs. You will also need to keep in mind the yearly maintenance of updating items and purchasing items you used up. This is an investment and you shouldn’t just pick the cheapest company; find someone who has the same goals and vision as you do. Once your brand is completed and your website is up, you will need to add SEO and Social Media to get the practice headed in the right direction. Plan on investing anywhere from $800 to $1200, depending on your online strategies.

After covering your brand and online presence, consider your internal and external marketing budget. The internal items are considered items in your reception area, on-hold campaigns, patient thank you notes, wall art, referral brochures, loyalty programs and uniforms (if you provide or share in the cost). The budget set aside for these items is an average of .5% to 2% of your yearly revenue for an existing practice. A new practice can expect to invest at least $3000 to $5000 to get started.

This leaves us with external marketing. A new practice needs patients, and depending on your location this might be difficult. Allow yourself at least 5-10% of your yearly revenue. Getting your chairs filled is the goal. I suggest putting aside extra funds for a grand opening and a halfway party, then one more at the end of the year. These events need advertising and some planning, but with the right guidance, the budget can be kept to a minimum.

Let’s talk about the actual goal of external marketing. External means “outside”. You will need to find these patients outside of your office, and the best way to find them is by doing a demographic report and mailing to the closest 5k to 15k in your area. Frequency is key. A budget of $2500 to $5500 a month is a good number to start with. However, the more you put into your marketing budget, the more new patients you will get.

Make sure you have a person(s) who answers your phone professionally and is trained on how to convert calls into new patients that come into your practice. Your new patient flow is only as strong as the skills and the passion of the person answering your phones.

Having a plan is essential to any practice’s success and growth. Do you have yours completed yet?

– Mike Shoun, President and CEO

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