The Incisor reviews why marketing your practice isn’t simply an expense, it’s a vital investment.
By Susan Richards
Like many businesses, the dental industry has spent the last two-plus years struggling with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has included staffing shortages and a growing inflation crisis. Historically, when the economy takes a downturn the urge to cut costs is reflexive and understandable – but be careful when deciding what goes under the knife.
Most small businesses allocate between five and ten percent of their gross revenue to marketing, with the healthcare industry on the higher end of the scale. It can be tempting to go after those dollars when faced with essential expenses such as building overhead, salaries, benefits, equipment, and more. This is when it's vital to remember marketing for your practice isn’t simply an expense, it’s a vital investment.
Consistency is Key
If a practice has maintained a steady advertising profile – newspaper, direct mail, website retargeting – and it suddenly goes away, the results can be catastrophic. Even if the business is stable, dropping all marketing efforts can allow the competition to step in and replace your top-of-mind awareness.
Prospective patients won’t be able to find you and it cuts off communication with your existing patients, which could indicate instability in your business. Even if you’re not looking for growth – unlikely – patients come and go, through moving and natural attrition.
If you don’t maintain your patient base, it will ultimately diminish. Something is always better than nothing when considering cuts to your marketing budget.
“The most important thing isn’t how much money to spend – it’s about staying consistent,” says Joe Barton, Vice President of RAMP.
Squaring Off with Inflation
There are many practical steps to take when balancing your marketing budget in the shadow of a fragile economy. Here are a few cost-effective and proactive actions you can take now:
Establish Your Objective: Before spending or cutting aimlessly, determine what your goals are for the practice. More patients, in general? Adding sedation or other long-term investment services? Fewer hours or more hours? Knowing your priorities for the year ahead – regardless of the economy – can help make marketing decisions easier.
Strengthen Your Brand: Take an objective look at your business image and determine if it needs a refresh. Does your website need updated? Is all your messaging and sales collateral consistent and in line with your ideals? It never hurts to check out the competition to see what’s working – and not working – for them.
Incorporate Social Media: With so many platforms to choose from, social media is one of the most cost-effective digital tools for a dental practice to employ. Wielded strategically, it can help with patient acquisition, brand awareness, and personal engagement which can lead to positive reviews and word-of-mouth business.
Mix It Up: Just as they say in the stock market, be sure to diversify. These days, people consume all sorts of media so limiting yourself to one form of advertising for your business is as risky as putting all your eggs in one basket. Any marketing expert will advise you to distribute your budget across multiple channels. It will vary according to regions, target audiences, or personal objectives, but these could include direct mail, radio, newspaper inserts, or digital tools like geofencing and over-the-top television advertising (OTT).
Review and Adjust: Finally, it’s critical to monitor your marketing budget regularly to see what’s working and what needs redirecting. Since you didn’t go to dental school to do this, it could be wise to hire a marketing firm like RAMP who provides detailed reports and makes sure your marketing budget is winning the battle with inflation.
Remember, good dental care isn’t a luxury, it’s an essential need. Your marketing dollars are performing a valuable service during tough times, and RAMP can help you point them in the right direction. Give us a call today for a free consultation.
Author: Susan Richards is a staff writer at DOCS Education. With over 20 years of experience in local journalism and business marketing, Susan’s career includes award-winning feature writing, as well as creating content with context for a wide variety of industries.