Dental Marketing FAQ

New Patients Inc has spent the last three decades working exclusively for dentists. Based on conversations with our clients we complied an extensive list of the top questions when it comes to dental practice marketing.

New Patients Inc is a full-service dental marketing firm that has worked exclusively with dentists since 1989. We handle all forms of online (Websites, Search Optimization, Social Media Content, Google Ad™ and Facebook™ campaigns), offline (3 forms of direct mail, all print media, radio, TV, billboards, signage, basic branding), as well as blended online and offline campaigns (Fusion Dental Marketing™)

With the implementation of proper SEO techniques, most websites start showing up on the first page with 6-8 months of the initial set up being completed. This time frame can vary depending how long your domain has existed, the quality of SEO optimization and the quality & amount of competitor websites. In addition, for new domains it will also depend on how long it takes for the search engine databases to fully index your website.
In order to show up in Google Maps, you will need to have a Google My Business listing. Google will occasionally auto-generate these listings based upon business directory information and they will show up as unclaimed. If your business listing does not show up, then you need go to Google My Business and sign into your Google Account. From there you will be prompted to enter your business information. To see the full steps, please visit Google’s Help page: Add or claim your business listing
Before we explain how to promote using direct mail, we need to let you know that we do not design and deploy direct mail to the same household for two different dentists. When you sign up for direct mail, we ensure that we do not market for competing dentists.

We can ensure that this does not happen because when we design a direct mail drop, we take several factors into consideration, including geography, household income, credit worthiness and marketability index. These are the same factors that we will use to target your mail drops appropriately. To learn more about our direct mail, we have a FAQ video on this topic: https://youtu.be/BhDbeIM_2VI

For a typical dentist, in a typical market (for approximately 90% of dentists) who is looking to build a strong marketing foundation this is general guideline for how to allocate your marketing budget in the early years.

10-15% of your budget would go towards internal marketing (communication software, sending out use it or lose it reminders or emails, your website, office signage). Some of these expenses are infrequent (outdoor signage) while others are yearly (communication software)
15-20% on the internet (PPC, social media marketing)
65-75% on direct mail

Once your marketing foundation is set, you will need to re-allocate your marketing budget. To learn how to do this please watch our video on ‘How should I allocate my marketing budget?’: https://youtu.be/dt5xipgshZs

We utilize call tracking software to monitor the different marketing promotions that we deploy. This call tracking software allows us to assign different phone numbers to each promotion. This information is tracked in a marketing spend results dashboard.

Our clients are provided with access to their marketing spend results dashboard so that can monitor their real-time marketing results. In this dashboard, you will be able see which promotions generated each phone call, the caller’s phone number and if this caller is a new or existing number. As well, all phone calls are recorded so that you can review the call for training purposes. To learn more, please visit our Client Result Dashboard page.

In order to answer this question, we need to define what a ‘small marketing budget’ is as this number is subjective to your individual practice. For the purpose of this question, we will say that a small marketing budget for one year, for a single location practice is $10,000.

When you are starting out and have relatively little money to work with you need to start with the lowest risk marketing mediums. Many of these low risk mediums come with a one-time fee (i.e. outside signage) and once paid the funds can be reallocated. Other low risk marketing mediums include patient communication software to share internal promotions, online scheduling and your practice website.

Once your revenues start to increase, so will your marketing budget. This is when you can start investing more of your budget into more expensive low risk mediums such as direct targeted mail or search engine marketing. Each year as your practice grows, so will your marketing budget and with this growth you’ll be to choose from a larger variety of marketing mediums.

Internal promotion is considered any promotion where the doctor and/or staff are educating their exiting patient base or the surrounding community on the services they provide. Internal promotion should take about 10-15% of your annual marketing budget.

Examples of internal promotion include:

  • In office: referral brochures, treatment brochures, welcome packages, office signage, video loop on reception or operatory TV’s and computer screens, post-treatment take home bags, electronic patient communication (i.e. Smile Reminder, DemandForce, LightHouse)
  • In Community: sponsoring a local youth team, speaking at community events by the doctor and/or staff, community appreciation days, candy buy programs, free dental care days

To learn more about how to utilize internal promotion, download our book: Unlimited New Patients – Volume 3

The time to start investing in print media advertising is after you have a website, established your internal promotion and you are running a credible direct mail program. Yes, mail would also be considered a form of print media. However, for purpose of this question print media refers to newspaper ads.

Running an ad in one of the major dailies is expensive, long-term commitment. We highly recommend running ads or newspaper inserts in a neighborhood (local) newspaper or newsletter. The local newspaper contains more news about the neighborhood and the cost savings is considerable compared to a major newspaper.

If you choose to place an ‘ad’, you’ll receive a certain area (i.e. 3 by 5-inch space on an 8.5 by 11-inch page) to place all your information in. When you elect to use an ‘insert’, you then have both sides of a separate 8.5 by 11-inch page that is placed within the newspaper itself. When it comes to a cost comparison on placing an ad or insert, the insert produces a better ad for a relatively low cost per piece.
When running either a newspaper ad or insert (especially an insert), you can inspect an influx of patients to come in as result of your advertising. However, this is not a long last result. To receive a truly long last result that builds momentum over time you need to continue with the other form of print media: direct mail!

Follow this link to watch our in-depth video on print media: https://youtu.be/Z_6fu_23pzA

Radio is an expensive form of marketing (average $3000-$4000 per month), prior to starting this method you need to have a well-established marketing presence before you invest a large portion of your marketing budget into one medium. Your existing marketing presence should already include great internal promotion, tremendous internet position, a robust mail campaign and an established print media presence.

The first step to promoting on the radio is to hire a media consultant to conduct a media strategy analysis. This consultant will study the whole area and choose the correct station that serves the correct target market for your practice. This analysis will tell which station to use, the correct timing, the right programming and the right rotation to use.

The second step is to identity the top 5 marketable attributes of your practice. Each attribute will be promoted in its own radio ad, which will allow you to have several ads to rotate through.

The next step is to determine how you are going to run the ads, frequency of ads and should the dentist or a hired professional speak. It is ideal to have the radio spot written and/or ready by the most popular radio personality during the time you want your ad heard. More often than note, the idea time for radio ads is during the commute to and from work.

With radio advertising it can up to 90 days before calls start resulting from the ad. Radio ads are one of the marketing mediums when you must build frequency before the results start paying off.

Online (digital) marketing is any marketing that takes place on the internet. This type of marketing includes dental websites, SEO optimization for websites, search engine marketing or pay-per-click (PPC) ads, Facebook ads and social media marketing.

Offline (traditional) marketing is any marketing method that does not require internet to deliver the message. This type of marketing includes print media (newspaper ads, magazines), direct mail, internal promotions (brochures, video loops on your TV, image packages), mass media (radio, television, billboard ads) or alternate media (ad specialty items like coffee cups, pens or car wraps, building banners).

All marketing plans should include a mixture of both online and offline marketing techniques. The split between the two will depend on a number of factors including your practice location, target demographic, volume of local competition and more.

There are three key factors to help you understand how to compete in a saturated dental market. If you keep these in mind you can succeed.

  1. Know your numbers, what is the doctor patient ratio within your market? Look at your core market (for example a 5mi radius around your office), are you in a 1:900 market or a 1: 1650 market. The national average is 1:1650 or 1 dentist for every 1650 patients.
  2. Adjust your expectations! Once you know your doctor to patient ratio adjust your expectations accordingly. If you are in a market that is less that 1:650 than it will take more time to build up momentum. In a saturated market, your momentum will start slow and it will start building toward the middle first year. You will not reach your peak until the beginning of your second year. If you know this going in, you can adjust your expectations accordingly.
  3. Make sure to track your results so that you can see what marketing spend is paying off and what is not. If you are not watching the ROI on your marketing spend then you are blindly spending money in the hopes it pays off. Track which marketing efforts results in new patient calls and which don’t. Adjust your marketing allocation as you start seeing which efforts are working.
Referral brochures are an internal marketing method to help increase the number of new patients to your practice. By utilizing referral brochures, it makes easier for staff to comfortable ask patients to refer their friends or family who may be looking for a new dentist. Typically, the best time to hand these brochures out is at the end of a hygiene appointment that does not require a follow up visit.

When referral has been received, it is not uncommon to send a thank you and small token of appreciation to the patient who made the referral. However, advising your patients ahead of time that they will receive a gift for every referral is not common and in fact, not legal in some states.

To learn more about the referral system, watch our video on the subject: https://youtu.be/QFFtE8o3zpQ

There are multiple online outlets to promote dentistry and attract future patients. The first step in online promotion should always be a responsive, user friendly and full SEO optimized website. This is where all other online efforts should point the patients and will give you the greatest control over what a patient sees.

The next step is establishing your presence on the various social media platforms. The main social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Pinterest is also a good platform for educating patients and sharing before/after photos.

Finally, a high-quality video of the doctor introducing himself to the patients is key. This video should not show him in the operatory or discuss technical procedures. This is where you introduce yourself, talk about the benefits of joining your dental family, what you & your dental team have done to help the local community and share any other feel-good topics. This video should be on the home page of your website and can also be shared on all social media platforms.