How Much Should Dentists Spend on Marketing
If you own a dental practice or are in charge of running one, you may be asking yourself how much to spend on dental practice marketing. Dentists and dental office managers across the country are asking this exact question about the ideal marketing budget for a dental practice.
Although we aren’t going to dodge a direct answer, there truly is no simple or easy answer as to how much one would need to spend on marketing because, as with any business, each dental practice is different.
However, there are some general guidelines that you can follow to help you decide the best marketing strategies for your practice. Put on your scuba gear, because we are about to dive in!
The Industry Consensus on Dental Marketing
How much should a dental practice spend on marketing? Although nobody wants to be average, let’s talk about the typical range of dental practices budget for dental marketing.
As a rule-of-thumb, dental offices should aim to keep their overall expenses under 60% of their total production. Out of all expenses, payroll clocks in highest, and marketing is usually on the lower end of expenses when it comes to budgeting.
The average amount dental practices spend on dental marketing is between 4 and 7 percent of annual revenue. Generally, industry research shows a lower average, closer to the 4% number, and marketing companies’ research usually sits at a higher average of around 7%. For a de novo startup, the recommended average is about 20% of your projected year one revenue.
Although these are the averages cited in a variety of research, the investment you decide to make will depend on many factors including your own growth goals!
So, if these averages aren’t enough for you to intelligently decide what you should be investing in dental marketing, how can you make the best business decision for your practice?
By The Numbers: Factors that Determine a Successful Market Spend
The best way to set your own marketing budget is to determine the numbers. Here, we are going to cover the top 3 power metrics when it comes to making a smart choice for your marketing.
#1. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
Many people naively focus on Cost-Per-Click (CPC) or Cost-Per-Lead (CPL), but these metrics aren’t actually where the rubber meets the road. What if your leads stink, and you’re simply wasting a bunch of time calling the wrong people?
CPC and CPL aren’t irrelevant, but they aren’t a power metric. What if the more you spend per click, the better the quality and the more you make money?
Hence, let us talk about a more powerful metric let’s say when you run search engine ads like Google or Bing advertising.
Our first power metric is Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), or Cost Per A** In Chair if we’re talking dentistry. CPA is the amount you spend to actually get a new dental patient in the chair. Tracking CPA instead of CPC or CPL is a good start to determine a successful spend on marketing.
We will be going over an example below with a fictional dental practice, WiseTooth Dental. For this example, WiseTooth Dental’s CPA is $100, meaning that it costs them $100 to get a new patient in their chair.
#2. New Patient Revenue (NPR)
The next important metric you need to know to make an informed decision is New Patient Revenue (NPR).
NPR is the amount of revenue you produce, on average, from a single new patient. There are two types of NPR, short and long-term. We recommend using a 6-month timeframe for short-term NPR, since most initial treatment is complete within 6 months of a new patient’s initial exam. WiseTooth Dental, our sample dental practice, has a 6 month NPR of $800.
Long-term NPR, on the other hand, is better referred to as Patient Lifetime Value (PLV), which is our next power metric.
#3. Patient Lifetime Value (PLV)
Patient Lifetime Value (PLV) is the amount of revenue a single patient will produce in their lifetime. This is an extremely important power metric. There are varying averages cited throughout the industry, ranging from $3,000 to $25,000.
Your PLV will be unique to your practice. If you want to learn how to compute your own PLV, check out Tooth & Coin’s blog post, How To Calculate Patient Lifetime Value, here: https://www.toothandcoin.com/how-tos/how-to-calculate-a-patients-lifetime-value
For our example, WiseTooth Dental has a PLV of $5,000.
Do The Math on Your Marketing Budget
At the end of the day, if you are making a strong return on your marketing, you should invest till the point you either reach your goals, or the returns begin to diminish.
Let’s check on how WiseTooth Dental is doing:
Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA): $100
6-Month New Patient Revenue (NPR): $800
Patient Lifetime Value (PLV): $5,000
There are two ways to compute Return-on-Investment (ROI), one is by using production or revenue, and the other is by using profit. In this example, we will be using profit because it is more accurate in understanding how much money you actually take home. We will be assuming the expenses (other than CPA) are 50% of the production for this example.
Compute 6 Month ROI: (NPR-Expenses-CPA) / (CPA)
or ($800-$400-$100) / ($100) = $300/$100 = 3 = ROI of 300%
Compute Lifetime ROI: (PLV-Expenses-CPA) / (CPA)
or ($5,000-$2,500-$100) / ($100) = $2,400/$100 = 24 = ROI of 2,400%
Whoever owns WiseTooth Dental should put a little more investment into their marketing budget! If you’re wondering, these numbers are realistic with the right strategy.
Now that you know how to compute the numbers, you need to know a little more about your growth objectives. This way, you can decide how much you need to invest in your marketing budget.
What Are Your Unique Growth Objectives to Measure Success?
It is important to know your unique growth objectives. We recommend using SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound).
Here are some important questions for you to ponder:
- What are your growth goals or plans to grow your practice?
- How fast do you want to get there?
- How many new patient exams do you have room for?
- Do you want more than one practice?
- Are you willing to hire associates down the road?
If you want to do 80 new patient exams each month, with a $100 CPA, your marketing budget should sit around $8,000 per month.
Let’s say your 6-Month NPR is $600, then the 80 new patients should generate about $48,000 of production within a 6 month period.
If your PLV is $4,000, then those 80 new patients should generate about $320,000 over the life of your relationship with them.
Plus, if you want to get even more sophisticated, you can add Patient-to-Patient Referral Rate to the numbers you track. If every 10 patients refer 1 new patient within a year, this will impact your numbers positively.
Some Tips on Market on Marketing Your Practice
Tip #1: Ramp up. Don’t go from $2,000 to $20,000 overnight. Incrementally expand your marketing program so that you and your team can adapt and adjust to the growth.
Tip #2: Use KPI software to plug into your practice management software like Dental Intel.
Tip #3: Reach out. If you have any questions about this, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are happy to help you in any way we can.
Dentist Marketing In Conclusion
How much should I budget for marketing?
In essence, your dental marketing budget covers about 30% of gross revenue. Consider all your expenses including your website build and maintenance, spending on other dental marketing strategies.
Take into account other established methods such as Search Engine Optimization or SEO, including local SEO, advertising both on Google and social media.
How do you market a dental practice?
There are a number of ways to market your practice, and a good marketing strategy is to balance what works for your local community.
Online marketing strategies include having and maintaining a business website wherein you are regularly creating a new blog post and promoting your recent posts in your Google My Business listing as part of local SEO.
You should also promote your blog posts on social media to get the word out through as many channels as possible.
What do small businesses spend the most money on?
The biggest expense that takes up the most percentage of a business budget will spend money on is the payroll. While this may account for about 70% of the budget, this is a direct income-generating one as well since it will allow you to get more new patients.
If you feel like your practice is poised for growth and just needs a little help, go to PatientMagnet.com and schedule an initial strategy session to go over what’s possible to get started on your business marketing success.