Guest post by Sachin Bathla

So, you want to engage in some dental marketing or perhaps do dental SEO, but you’re not loaded with cash at the moment. What can you do?

First, you need to establish a budget. Why? Because nearly every other business in the world has a marketing budget. Do you think your practice isn’t a business? Of course it is. Whatever you consider your “practice” to be, it is first and foremost, a small business. Therefore, it is subject to the laws of supply and demand, the need for customer acquisition,overhead management, personnel management and all the principles,mechanics and operations of any other business.

Just because you’re not swimming in money doesn’t mean you can get by without a dental marketing services budget. Budgets put you in control and allow you to direct your dollars where you want them to go in order to produce the best results possible.

How to Establish a Marketing Budget

There is a ‘magic formula,’ and here it is in its most basic form:

 MARKETING BUDGET = (Previous 12 Month Revenues X 5%) to (Annual GOAL Revenue X 5%)

You should allocate an annual marketing budget that falls between 5% of your actual revenues for the year and 5% of your goal revenues for the year. This should be used for practices that have been in business at least five years, and that earn $1.5 million or less per year. If you own a solo GP practice that earned $600,000last year and you want to grow your revenues to $800,000, your annual marketing budget would be between $30,000 and $40,000.

Budget allocation:

  • 5% – Internal projects (referrals)
  • 15% – Website/Internet marketing
  • 80% – External projects (targeted direct mail)

There’s a difference between budgeting and cash flow reality. Say your budget should be $50,000/year. You don’t need to have$50K sitting in the bank—just make sure you have about $4K per month allocated within your practice cash flow. See the difference? You want to spread your promotions throughout the year anyway, so it only makes sense to spread out the funding.

Start with the Least Risk Dental Marketing Mediums

  1. Internal promotions to the patient base are very low risk. Your own patients know you, trust you and have already given you money. But many times, your own patients don’t even know you offer, say, Invisalign™ or that you can help with the husband’s snoring, or the kid’s braces. A quarterly newsletter (either paper or electronic) will educate them about what else you can do for them. They usually only know what you did on them.
  2. Encouraging referrals by having a handout piece your patient can give to their friends or co-workers that invites them into the practice, is an inexpensive way to get the word out. The doctor doesn’t do this. Staff or the hygienists do this task.
  3. This includes the practice sign, window space designs, sandwich boards, in office signs, photos of your work on the practice walls, and even outside banners.
  4. Practice website. Your website will be your BEST secondary promotion medium,which means all your external and internal promotion will refer people to your website. Some of those people will go to your site to check you out. And, in turn, some will convert to new patient phone calls.A good website and an effective web marketing strategy (such as dental SEO) is a foundational staple of your marketing campaign. If you do it poorly,the costs to you in lost opportunity is staggering. You should allocate 10% of your budget each year to your website and Internet dental marketing.
  5. Targeted direct mail. This is one of the most effective forms of dental marketing we use for our clients. In fact, we achieve success in 96% of all US markets with our mail campaigns. Amazing, huh?Direct mail is also BY FAR the least risky external medium available to you. That doesn’t mean you focus on direct mail alone—it needs to be used as part of an overall dental marketing strategy. But if you want to diversify your marketing budget, properly targeted and designed direct mail is a great place to invest and presents the least risk of all external mediums.


Author bio: Sachin Bathla manages content & SEO clients at New Patients INC. We are here to help! For a complimentary dental marketing plan, call New Patients Inc at (855-950-5335) or visit us at: NewPatientsInc.com.