Do You Need a Marketing Plan?

By Douglas Sligting, President, Dental Branding

Can you think of anything in business that works better when it’s not planned? Do you have a marketing plan? Most doctors will agree that shotgun marketing isn’t effective, and it is crucial to success to have a marketing plan in place.
So why do so few practices have one?

The main reason we’ve found is because most doctors simply don’t know how to create one. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the right way to create an effective dental office marketing plan.

  1. Start with the past:What has happened in the past is the best indicator of what will happen in the future. Take a look at all of your current and past dentistry marketing efforts for the following criteria:
    • What message have you been communicating? Is your branding consistent and does it tell a compelling story that differentiates you from other dentists? If not, you will need to define your messaging strategy.
    • How effective was each effort? Have you been tracking your dental marketing results in a way that allows you to understand their true effectiveness? Be sure to track both the number of patients and the revenue produced per patient for each marketing effort. If a marketing effort was effective in the past, it will likely be effective in the future.
  2. Identify specific goals: What kind of growth are you looking for? Be specific in terms of both growth and profitability. Once you have identified these goals, you can understand how much marketing you will need to achieve your goals.
  3. Plan a budget: Your budget should be based on two key factors: 1) the amount of growth you are trying to achieve and 2) how much money you can afford to spend. Sometimes these two numbers align and other times available funds do not match stated goals. If funds and goals don’t align, either temper your goals or increase funds. Your budget should be determined by the amount of growth you want to achieve.

What kind of growth are you looking for? Be specific in terms of both growth and profitability.

Once you have a confident understanding of the previous three steps, you are ready to develop the plan. Your plan should identify the following:

  • Strategy: Start with the lowest hanging fruit.
  • Timeline: Plan to implement a new system or tool each month.
  • Tools: Which tools will best deliver on your goals?
  • Monthly budget: This will help you plan for your financial commitment. Stick to it. Consistency is key to effective dental office marketing.

Finally, track your results effectively and check them on a monthly basis. We recommend committing to a six-month plan. Six months is enough time to give you accurate results based on patterns, but it isn’t so long that you can’t be nimble enough to make adjustments. Every six months, you should do an in-depth review and develop a new plan based on what you learned from your previous plan(s).

Douglas Sligting is President and CEO of Dental Branding. With over 20 years of brand and marketing experience, the past six specifically focused on dental marketing services, Doug is uniquely qualified and possesses a rare understanding of the correct way to market your practice in the dental industry.