By Dr. Greg Grillo
As we enter 2022, some of the challenges of the past two years linger. Still, there’s a sense of optimism in our profession. Dental expenditures were expected to drop by 20% or more in 2020, but most practices experienced a muted overall effect . The past year saw cautious growth in many regions as dentists returned to near-normal patient volume. As we continue to face a redefined future, every practice must develop a sound dental marketing strategy. Even if you’re growing your practice, you need to fine-tune the details of the patient experience. Consumers bring more demands for convenience and service now than in the past. And innovative business models are reshaping the profession with enterprise models and multi-platform marketing programs. This isn’t a time to coast. On the other hand, if you’re feeling stuck and frustrated by a lack of growth, it’s time to review your dental marketing plan and align the pieces. Dental marketing can feel overwhelming as we manage a staffing crisis and patient demands. However, effective marketing for dentists breaks down into three foundational elements: the brand message, the budget, and the tools.
Why Should Patients Choose Us?
A dental practice should have a compelling purpose that guides everything from product offering to patient experience. Be sure you are clear on your mission and how it impacts every aspect of the business, including service quality. Simon Sinek defined “The Golden Circle” as a model for understanding why people buy products or services. In dentistry, this means clearly defining:
- What: The services you offer to your patients
- How: The characteristics that differentiate you from other practices
- Why: The reason you show up and change lives
This mission clarity helps us tell our brand story and guides people to choose us over other options. It’s easy to jump past this guiding principle and straight into campaigns. But steady growth depends on a solid foundation and vision. If you need help setting a new direction, consider the book Vivid Vision by Cameron Herald.
What’s A Reasonable Dental Marketing Budget?
An overhead target for marketing depends on many factors, and what one practice spends on marketing may not be enough for another one. Many coaching programs teach 5% of overhead as a responsible dental marketing budget. But many practices need to spend 10%, and a start-up entity may require 15%. Assess your goals, trajectory, and business environment and set a 5-15% target that fits your practice. A solid plan includes three overarching components: intent-based marketing, awareness marketing, and remarketing. Most practices should divide their marketing budget this way:
- 70% of their digital marketing budget goes to intent-based marketing, usually Google. Ads display when their target audience searches for specific keywords, including “near me.” At least 60% of patients indicate they choose a doctor based on a convenient location.
- 30% of the budget should be split between remarketing and awareness ads. Facebook and Instagram are examples of good places to build your brand. And you may choose to follow site visitors with ads as part of this allocation as part of a retargeting strategy.
What’s The Best Way To Advertise Dental Practices?
We’re faced with a dozen or more avenues to pursue in digital marketing, and it’s hard to know which way to go. There’s no magic bullet to advertise dental practices, and the components overlap as people move from one stage of their journey to the next. But here are a few pieces that we can’t overlook: A First-Class Dental Website: Every dentist needs a website, but do you know what makes a good one? With over 200,000 dentists in the U.S., potential patients can jump from site to site within seconds. And it takes less than two-tenths of a second for visitors to form a first impression. A quality site engages patients at every stage of their decision-making, especially on mobile devices.
- CHECKPOINT: Have you reviewed your website in the past few months? And how does it look to the more than 54% of viewers who find our sites on mobile devices? If you’re due for an upgrade, consider Legwork Websites for functionality designed for our profession.
Effective Local SEO: “Near me” searches continue to climb, and they’re an easy on-ramp to attract new patients to engage with our brands. Google updates its SEO formula every day, but experts know how to come out on top. We can’t afford to be second best when potential patients search for us within a few miles of our offices.
- CHECKPOINT: Are you integrating all the pieces to solve the SEO puzzle? The Legwork team blends local business listings, website traffic, Google Maps listings, and more to generate SEO results that keep new patients coming our way.
Consistent Social Media: A regular Facebook and Instagram schedule includes at least a dozen posts each month. A mix of educational, inspirational, and celebratory content makes sure we stay top-of-mind with busy consumers. Since video gets 48% more views than static posts, consider adding simple social clips from your office.
- CHECKPOINT: Do you have an ongoing series of social posts planned for your social media pages? If creating content is outside of your wheelhouse, consider using Legwork Campaigns which allows you to select and schedule pre-made posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Professional graphic designers and copywriters craft each post, and their social media marketing calendar provides a done-for-you guide.
Productive Paid Ads : Patients are consumers first, and we’re most effective at reaching them when we meet them in their space. Dental search engine marketing and social media ads help drive awareness and convert prospects into patients for the lowest per-click and per-conversion cost possible. Ads give us a cost-effective strategy across social media, Google search, and Google Maps.
- CHECKPOINT: Do you have an ad strategy that splits an advertising budget between intent-based and awareness campaigns? If not, consider Legwork Dental Advertisement that covers Google, Instagram, and Facebook ads. Practices average 3X the revenue in the first 30 days after implementing Legwork dental advertisement services.
Energetic Push-Pull: Attracting prospective patients to our website is progress, but turning them into loyal patients takes more effort. If they’re interested in what we offer, we can engage further with assessments that capture their contact info. Once we’re connected, we can follow up with an automated email marketing flow that delivers educational content that’s proven to boost conversions.
- CHECKPOINT: Do you have tools on your website that encourage patients to stay and explore their interests? And can you keep nurturing them to take action even after they’ve left with patient-centric content? Legwork Assessments keeps nudging patients towards the next step, and this tool can do the same for existing patients. The possibilities are endless.
Dental Advertising Is A Sum Of The Parts
Dental advertising isn’t about a single campaign or an email blast. Patients choose dentists based on a mix of awareness and intent-based exposures. And they mix in online reviews, word of mouth, scheduling availability, and access to virtual visits. We need teams that understand the complexity of the new consumer mindset the same way we know the intricacies of our dental bonding techniques. Legwork knows how to guide our message with an efficient dental marketing budget in 2022. And that means more growth, higher profits, and a practice that serves patients at the highest level.