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How to Allot the Practice's Marketing Budget

By: Wendy O'Donovan Phillips

Most established dental and orthodontic practices regularly reinvest about 6% of their annual production back into marketing. For the average practice that produces $780,000 each year that means $3,900 per month is invested in marketing.

For startups, lenders typically allot $20,000-$25,000 of the initial practice loan to marketing during the practice's first year. With the help of the speed of the Internet, dental marketing providers are becoming more and more efficient at delivering patient acquisition solutions like websites, social media and video marketing to startups at an even lower investment level. Even better, many can provide custom demographic reports to help pinpoint exactly how to allot the marketing investment based on the target audience.

By setting an overall marketing budget, the practice is more likely to produce a return on investment. A single set figure month over month will most accurately measure marketing success.

Marketing should always be backed by strategy not opinion. Rather than going with a gut feeling, survey the existing practice?s best patients, or survey members of the community for a startup. A simple survey will provide insights into which marketing tactics are likely to motivate people to become patients of the practice. Ask questions such as these:

  • How likely are you to click on Google AdWords?
  • How likely are you to select a healthcare provider based upon direct mail?
  • How important is a healthcare provider?s website to you in deciding whether or not to visit that practice?

Use a Likert scale in order to gather the most precise data.

Then have a look at what the competition is doing. If four out of five competitors are advertising in the city magazine, steer clear ? your ad will only be more noise across an already saturated medium. If none are doing television or radio ads, consider investing there. (But only if your surveys showed that the patients and thereby their friends and family would pay attention to those tactics.)

There are many possible things you can be doing for marketing right now. Here?s a basic list:

  • Recall marketing
  • Reputation management/online reviews
  • Search engine optimization
  • Website development
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, other online ads
  • Email campaigns
  • Referral marketing
  • Thank you cards
  • Practice brochure
  • Welcome packet
  • Television ads
  • Radio ads
  • Public relations
  • Outdoor ads/billboards
  • Direct mail
  • Print ads
  • Community event sponsorship
  • Marketing to referring doctors
  • Open houses
  • Patient appreciation events
  • Professional lecture presentations
  • Point-of-sales campaigns
  • Retargeting ads
  • LinkedIn lead mining

Based upon the findings from the surveys and competitor analysis, pick five of these to focus on now.

And finally, for the big question: How to know what part of the budget to allot to what?

Gather estimates for each of the five tactics you wish to deploy. Direct mail can be an investment of tens of thousands of dollars and can translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars of production when done well in the right markets. By contrast, the average U.S. marketing firm charges just $750 per month for search engine optimization services.

Think not, "How much should I spend?"

Think instead, "What is the overall budget I'm willing to invest, and what are the top five things that are best for me to do now?"

That?s investing for a healthy return!

Guest blogger Wendy O'Donovan Phillips is CEO of Big Buzz, the nation's third-largest dental marketing agency and only full-service firm, offering more than 50 different marketing tactics, all backed by research. She is the author of KABOOM! The Method Used by Top Dentists for Explosive Marketing Results, which is on the Amazon Top 100 List for Dental Office Practice books. She has been honored by the American Marketing Association for excellence in her field, and she has been hired by the American Dental Association as an expert consultant in marketing. Her firm celebrates 10 years in business this year.

About the Author

Wendy O'Donovan Phillips is CEO of Big Buzz (www.bigbuzzinc.com), the nation's third-largest dental marketing agency and only full-service firm, offering more than 50 different marketing tactics, all backed by research. She is the author of "KABOOM! The Method Used by Top Dentists for Explosive Marketing Results," which is on the Amazon Top 100 List for Dental Office Practice books. She has been honored by the American Marketing Association for excellence in her field, and she has been hired by the American Dental Association as an expert consultant in marketing. Her firm celebrated 10 years in business in 2017. Read more insights like these at www.bigbuzzinc.com/blog.

View all articles by Wendy O'Donovan Phillips


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All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

All financing is subject to credit approval.

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