Dental Marketing Mastery #6: Media Types. Where Should My Budget Go?
In Dental Marketing Mastery Episode 6, we delve further into the various dental office marketing media types, such as internal marketing, mail marketing, the internet, telephones, print media, and mass media.
Which media types will give you the most ROI? What percentage of your budget should you put towards each media type?
We answer these questions and more in this episode.
Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by DentalWebContent.com and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again, as my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.
Howie: So hello, Mark, what are we going to talk about today?
Mark: Hey, Howie. Well, last time we did dental marketing budget, from a, I guess, 1000 foot elevation view. Budgeting is something that every dental practice needs to do. At least once a year, we don’t necessarily care what time of the year you do. It doesn’t have to be January 1, it can be whatever time you want. But you really should reveal your budget at least once a year.
I think typically dentist will do that at the end of a calendar year or right after tax time. If those are good times for you, then that’s fine. Just make sure you have a budget. And as best as you can you stick to your budget. Because as we said in the last podcast in the series, if you don’t have a budget, and you don’t stick to it, what you end up doing is you end up having a you panic when you don’t have enough new patients and you overspend. And then when it gets busy again, you underspend until you panic, again, when you don’t have enough new patients. So you end up in this vicious spike Valley, inconsistent, constant state of turmoil.
You know, we would argue that every marketing initiative you’ve ever done will always cost money up front. You can’t avoid whether you build a website, direct mail, radio, or you do TV, or I don’t care, you go to a bridal fair, you still have to pay for your booth up front before you get anything for your month. Okay. So paying for dental office marketing up front and constantly starting and stopping is really the most expensive, and the highest risk marketing you can do.
Which is a great segue way into what you do once you have a budget, a total budget. So last week, we are last podcast we talked about total budget 5% of trailing 12 months revenues to 5% of goal revenues. And in our example, we said okay, we have a $600,000 practice. So 5% of the is 30 grand a year as a total budget. And if my goal is to get to 800,000 a year, the top end of my budget range is 40,000 a year I just multiply both of those numbers, tops 5%. So my dental office marketing budget range is 30 to $40,000. Well, that’s kind of wonderful.
If you stop there, at least, you know, I’m going to spend about three grand a month and I’ll be somewhere close to my budget at the end of the year. But really one of the main questions you have to answer is, what am I going to spend that money on? When you consider what you’re going to spend your money on? Almost any business owner anywhere. Let’s separate ourselves from dentistry for a second. almost anybody business owner anywhere will say I want to spend my dental office marketing dollars on the things that are most likely to give me a return. Would you agree Howie?
Mark: Have you ever met a business owner that said you know what? I feel like gambling today.
Howie: Well, I do live in Vegas. So yes, I
Mark: okay. Well, outside of where you live? Let’s you know, have you ever had a business owner or a dentist, for that matter come to you and say, You know what, Howie, I need more uncertainty in my life. I’d like for you to take a complete and total gamble my dental practice marketing dollar have in 27 years of doing this, has any dentist ever walked up to you and said,
Howie: No, they haven’t.
Mark: Okay, so we’re still waiting?
Howie: Okay. Yeah. Are although, although indirectly they do if they request, you know that we do something that hasn’t been tested? Or you know, that that’s gamble.
Mark: Okay, right. Well, we’ll look we’ll get into Yeah, yeah, we’re going to get into cookie cutter and customized and, and all that stuff a little bit later in a future podcast. Or now what we’re talking about is, all right, I have my total budget, almost anybody can do math, it’s pretty easy. So there’s my total budget for the whole year. And if you divide that by 12 months, and you make it consistent stuff, three grand a month, right?
The question is, is what am I going to spend it on? Do I put it on cable TV? Do I put three grand a month into the radio? And, do I spend 3000 a month hammering away just at my own existing patients? Because I’m afraid to go outside the practice and promote my practice? What do I spend my $3,000 a month on? And the answer always starts with what causes the least risk. So let’s go down the list of promotion mediums in dentistry that pose the least risk to your dental office marketing dollar. And I’m sure some of these will be obvious. And I’m quite sure we’re going to surprise a few of you with a couple of statistical realities.
Number one, least risk, greatest chance of return is always has been and always will be internal promotion to your own patient base. The reason? It’s so unbelievably predictable, is because what Howie? what do those patients know already?
Howie: Yeah, the we’re already familiar with you. Presumably they like you. And they gave they’ve already given you money. And you’ve already worked on them,
Mark: they’ve already allowed you into the privacy of your own mouth.
Howie: so there’s an element of trust already there that you don’t have to go through when you’re talking to strangers, because they don’t know who you are. And they have never given you money. And, you know, there’s just lots more risk there.
Mark: Sure. There are other factors too, with your existing patients, they know the person who answers the phone and schedules their appointment, they know the person who helps them with their insurance coverage. They know where your parking lot is, they know where your office is located. They know the traffic patterns in the area, there’s a million reasons why your existing patients are the perfect place to invest dental office marketing dollars on a consistent basis. Now, what’s the number, the number is five to 10% of your total annual budget. So in our example, somewhere between three, somewhere between 3000 a year and whatever, 5000 a year somewhere in that right.
Now, what kind what our internal promotions? Well, the most common, I think today that should be pulled from that budget would be the electronic messaging systems out there like a smile reminder, and the man force and lighthouse and those types of systems, they’re about two or 300 bucks a month, that’s about 30 $500 a year. So there’s a chunk of your internal budget, right there, because you’re going to use those systems to communicate. Not only that you have we care coming up, or you have an appointment next week, but hopefully you’re using those systems. Not too often, maybe three or four times a year, to promote the benefits of the services you provide, or at least to warm your patients of the service the other services by beyond what you’ve done specifically to them.
Howie and I have both experienced countless times in our years, clients who have told us that you know, they have a problem, or they must have a problem, because they just had a patient come in with you know, 8, 10, 12 beautiful looking veneers that, that they didn’t complete some other dentists complaining. And when Howie and I hear that from a prospective new client or a client, then we all automatically have to say, well, then we’re not doing enough internal promotion in that dental practice.
To let all the patients know about all the benefits of all the dentistry that we do, that’s always going to be a great thing to do. We will caution you that you can overdo it on, we typically stay within that four to six times a year range with informational pieces to existing patients. And there’s a general rule with existing patients. And it’s completely the opposite than the general public.
The general public, you promote as many of your marketable attributes as possible. With your existing patients, you promote one marketable attribute. Do not send your patients newsletters, they will look at them decide immediately that there’s too much to read, and they will not read them. But if you spoon feed your existing patients information, one marketable attribute at a time, one service at a time, one convenience at a time, one technology at a time, they will look at it, determine they have the time to read it. And you will get more readership and more knowledge in the head of your existing patients. And if you do that, that you will have, you will be doing more work to your existing patients and you will get more referrals from your existing patients. So that’s internal promotion.
After internal promotion, believe it or not, this is where it probably surprise you. If you do direct mail properly, it will work in 96.4% of all the markets in the US. That is point 4% higher than the internet. They are neck and neck as far as predictability. I’m the reason why mail is still king or queen is because it is the only it is the only media type, promotional media type, that you can target in such a refined fashion that you can drive your current pressing cost way down, and you can drive your predictability way up.
There is no other medium where you can say all right, give me all the people around me within a certain drive time with a certain income with a certain marketability index with the above a certain credit rating, and only deliver the message you want only to those people. So the waist with properly done direct mail is almost zero. And it’s so it’s the really the only medium that you can say that for.
Now, after direct mail. And when I say direct mail, I mean all forms of postcards, trackable squat bowls, brochure types of magazines, there’s all kinds of forms of direct mail. But from a global standpoint, on you can call them direct targeted online media. And what you want to do is you want to pair that up with a good online presence. Because remember, well, which by the way is next in line, your website, SEO, social media is night is going to prove out if it’s done properly, it’s going to prove out to be successful in 96% of the US markets.
So if you’re going to invest your money in order of predictability, that’s the order internal promotion, direct, met, properly done direct mail. And properly done internet dental marketing strategies are the cornerstone foundations of every good, sensible, long lasting, great ROI dental office marketing plan for almost every dental practice almost anywhere. I mean, we don’t, we haven’t found the variation for too many variations, maybe 4% of the country.
But Heck, if it’s 90 some percent predictable, that’s a pretty good bet. So that’s where we had a budget of 30 to $40,000 was probably put three to 5000. And internal probably put about 10 to 12 into the internet. And we put the rest in in some form of direct targeted direct mail. We would spread out the distribution of that mail. Logically, we would skip the month of July and December unless there was some local market reason why we shouldn’t skip those months. And we would hit as many targets as we possibly could within that budget amount. And we would we would put call tracking numbers on the mail.
Certainly for the first year, I would look call tracking number on the website, I would make sure my team is answering the tough calls the way I want them to, I would make sure I’m answering my phone Monday through Friday, eight to five at least, you’d be amazed at how many offices miss about 20% of the new patient phone calls that come in. We actually see them and we rail. internally we rail. Externally, we try to encourage customers and noncustomers alike. To Please answer your phone.
Howie: And you know, did we do this in our life presentations. It’s kind of funny. We always say who here would like to increase the effectiveness of their dental practice marketing by at least 20%? course everybody raises their hands. And we say well, we can do that for you very short order just a few words, answer your phone.
Mark: right answer your phone, right? We’re not even talking about doing answering your phone properly, just to answer it to pick up the phone and say hello. So anyway, that’s. So that’s a pretty good, pretty general example of where you would start to build a marketing foundation from which you would begin to grow after that first year. Because if you think about it, I let’s take the same scenario. Same situation. I’m started with a 30 to 40 k budget. I implemented those three items, internal internet dental marketing strategies and a direct mail campaign. And it generated x. And let’s say I didn’t make my 800,000. The first year I made $700,000. Okay. So this year, I’m going to do exactly the same calculation.
So now my budgets, the bottom is 35,000. But instead of wanting to get the 800, I want to get the 900. So my bottom is 35,000. My top is 45,000. But wait, here’s how here’s where it really starts to kick in, is. I don’t have to go buy a website again, not if I did it right. So I have to spend that money this year. I don’t have to go by my SEO setup this year, I already paid for it. I don’t have to spend that money this year. So there’s a big chunk of money that I’ve already invested. These are no longer things I have to do every year. These are assets that I already paid for right out of last year’s budget.
So now I have whatever 6-7 or 8 thousand more dollars to spend expanding my footprint. In this case, in a more internal promotion to my existing patients and very likely more volume of targets and more volume of direct mail, of course, I would want to look at my call tracking and make sure that it’s worthy. And it it’s worth investing in. But it will be 95 or 96% of the time. So and then you just keep building and building and building from there. That’s it’s…it’s a natural progression. Now, once you’re beyond, once you’re beyond direct mail and the internet, we move into the print media.
Which many of you are probably thinking, Man, I don’t even know if my area has a newspaper. So when I say print media, I mean newspapers and magazines. newspapers have gone through a Renaissance, you either don’t have a viable opportunity, or you have a tremendously viable opportunity. It’s like a black and white scenario in most US markets.
If your newspaper has transitioned over into micro level local information, it’s probably gotten a lot smaller. But if it looks trendy, it looks like it has information that young families would thirst for that young families can’t get elsewhere. Then they’ve made a successful transition. Your local newspaper looks like it looks 15 years ago, they’re about ready to die. They’re going to go away. They won’t be there next week, it’s not worthy of your advertising dollar magazines can be, we normally ask the doctor to look and see how many other dentists that are advertising in there.
The answer is more than one normally say no, that’s not a viable option. But there’s a million print media options out there. Church bulletins, their subdivision newsletters, there are 55 and over adult community newsletters, there’s all kinds of print media, possibly abilities out there, you just have to rattle the trees to find them, they can be gold, because the cost of advertising in them is very low. And the targeting is wonderful because the community is let’s say right next to your dental practice.
So you don’t have any geographic waste in the advertising dollar like you would if you invested in I don’t know the Cincinnati Herald that covers an 80 square mile, you know swath of land. So the print media is next after that is mass media. And the order there the radio, then TV, then billboards, so. So they’re your list, there’s your list from least from least risk, internal promotion, all the way to most risk which is billboards.
So you invest in order, you don’t move beyond where you are, unless you are dominating in that media segment in your market, so you need to dominate internal dominate the internet dominate. Now, before you move outside of that, most dental practices, solo practices and most to doctor practices never have to go beyond internal internet and mail. They just don’t, they get to capacity. They stay at capacity, average revenue, patients are very high if they do it right. And they really don’t need to go beyond that. That’s really up to the aggressive, aggressive nature of the Doctor, how big they want to get the owner, how big they want to get, and the capacity of the dental practice. So that’s a snapshot of how our minds work.
When a dentist calls us or emails us or goes on to our website and clicks that revolving client survey button that’s in the middle of every page and says, what should I do with my marketing dollar, we do the math for them. And then we allocate the budget based on risk. We don’t want to put your marketing dollars at risk any more than you do.
We’re not gamblers with our dental office marketing budget, we certainly would not be able to sleep at night if we were taking undue risks with our clients and dental marketing budgets. So but that that’s the logic behind some of our work. That’s how we come up with the decisions we come up with. It’s all based in tracking all those phone calls and all those results for all these years through all those mediums, that allows us to make guidance decisions based on statistics. So that that’s budgeting, part two or budgeting expanded. We look forward to taking that knowledge a little further in our in our next podcast, Howie, got anything got a snappy close.
Howie: I haven’t got a snappy close, I just wanted to make one mentioned. We are assuming that the practice and the dental marketing budget that we just described, is applied to an existing practice. It’s different with a start-up
Howie: a little bit down the law a little bit, too, which I would add, of course, you gotta have a sign outside your door to let people know where you’re at. But aside from that, it’s pretty much the same progression, or brand-new start-up as it is for an existing. That’s just your budgets going to be a lot smaller. That’s all we’ll be able to do as much as you like. But if you stick with the least risk philosophy, which is what we build our whole business around, then you’re going to eventually be just fine.
Howie: won’t be throwing your money up to the wind and hoping something sticks. It just won’t be doing that. It’s a horrible way to market. So anyway, thank you all for tuning in again. And we’re gonna see you next time.