How I Got 60 NP this Month with Less than $500 Marketing Budget
“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.” – Steve Jobs
From my “Business of Dentistry Study” that I completed back when I was in dental school, I learned that a dying dental practice gets less than 15 new patients per month. A stabilized dental practice brings in approximately 15 to 25 new patients per month. And a successfully growing practice brings in 25 or more new patients per month. To achieve this high 25+ new patient number, it is often recommended that up to 10% of gross revenue each month could be spent on marketing budget. So this means for a practice generating $500,000 per year — it would be ‘reasonable’ to dump $50,000 per year into marketing.
But – that doesn’t sound very efficient. I asked myself the same question I asked myself when I opened my start-up for ~1/4th the cost of the average start-up. Maybe there is another way to do this?
Those who know me; know I’m about continuous improvement towards high-profitability and low overhead.
I started building my practice pretty much as soon as I graduated. Every month we get typically between 40 and 50 new patients, but for this past month of March — we hit the 60 new patient benchmark for the first time.
$288.00 – Newspaper Ad – I ran this newspaper ad in the local newspaper.
$155 – Facebook Ongoing Website Promotion. I have a recurring budget of $5 per day on Facebook.
$56 – Facebook Boosted Post. I spent $56 boosting the Facebook post below.
Total Marketing Costs for March 2018 = $499
Total New Patients for March 2018 = 60
I will point out a possible flaw in my own marketing approach. I spend more than 50% of my marketing budget on a newspaper ad. But 90% of my new patients come from Facebook. I know this because I track where my new patients come from. “How did you hear about us?” is a question on my health history form. So why do I even invest in the newspaper ad? 1) I feel like the $288 is such a small amount that it’s no skin off my back 2) I know that lots of local business owners and important community figures read the local paper — I’m hoping that I can leverage that somehow in the future. 3) My ROI on the newspaper ad is still a positive. A few times a month, a patient will come in and indicate ‘Newspaper Ad’ is how they heard about us. If I even get 1 new patient from the ad, it’s worth it.
But, I digress.
Why spend thousands every month on marketing to your dental patients? There are two answers to that question.
The first answer, is my personal answer as to why I don’t spend thousands on marketing: I would have too many patients. If I dumped thousands of dollars each month into marketing, I would have well over 100 new patients per month, and at this point, my systems in my practice aren’t prepared to handle that. I am not dumping that much money into my marketing out of intentional avoidance of growing too fast for my own good. As my practice systems become and and more refined I will likely ramp things up. I also do not have full staff that I am fully confident in at this point — just last week, I made the decision to fire one of my receptionists. Currently, I am happy with all of my employees, but I am understaffed. If I increased my marketing, and had even more new patients, I would not be able to handle it while being understaffed as I currently am as of today.
But the more common answer for spending thousands per month on marketing, is much more painful. The truth is that many dentists who are spending $1,000s per month on marketing are still not getting anywhere near the new patient flow they need. Many practices are spending lots on marketing but still floating around just 2o new patients per month. Now again, sometimes this may be intentional. For high end FFS practices that complete $20,000 cases on single patients, well, they don’t need as many patients. But for 95% of general dentists – you need patients! And lots of them!
So many general dentists do not understand marketing. I firmly believe this. Every time I see a dental joke or dental fact posted on their Facebook or other social media; I believe this ever more strongly. Every time I see a dentist advertising about their newest dental toy, it makes me shake my head. Sure your dental buddies might love your new dental toy and think your dental joke is a riot. But not your patients. They don’t care about that stuff .
If you are spending thousands of dollars each month on marketing and not getting 50+ or even 100+ new patients per month then you are marketing while thinking like a dentist. You need to be marketing while thinking like a patient. (Unless, like I said, you don’t want a lot of patients, because you rather have huge dollar cases for a small amount of people – but NP flow is the lifeblood of 95% of general dental practices).
Marketing needs to appeal to your patients.
My social media marketing program has been massively effective for me and my practice.
Learn what your community cares about — not what you think they should care about. Then you will know how to market to your community and get new patients.
–DeAngelo S. Webster, DDS
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