For dental practices with limited marketing budgets, deciding on which type of marketing to rely on can be tough. While most practices are more familiar with and accustomed to traditional marketing channels, digital marketing can provide more bang for your buck.
Ideally, a dental practice should invest in a combination of traditional and digital marketing to reach as many patients as possible.
However, when the marketing budget is limited, we have a strategy that will work for most practices.
Traditional marketing includes television commercials, billboards, radio ads, and all print media (postcards, newspapers, magazines, inserts). A single TV commercial on a local channel can cost thousands to produce and air. Billboard costs can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month, depending on the location and the type.
Radio ads can be somewhat less costly, but also depend on the market, as well as other factors. Print media can also be quite expensive, involving thousands of dollars per campaign.
The trouble with some traditional marketing channels is that tracking can be imprecise, and it is relatively inflexible.
With certain traditional channels, you are reaching a limited audience, and results may not come until you’ve repeated a campaign a few times. Once you’ve committed to a format, it takes time, effort, and usually a fair amount of expense to make a change, which can be especially frustrating if you want to act quickly.
What we recommend to our clients who are looking for the most cost effective and sensible ways to market their practices is to invest more heavily in digital marketing, especially at the beginning. Digital marketing includes websites and specific landing pages, social media, email campaigns, blogs, reviews, search ads, and online business listings.
Overall, digital marketing requires a much lower investment and can even include components that cost practically nothing.
With digital marketing, we can track results quite easily and provide pretty accurate information. It is also easy to change digital media without dramatically impacting the budget or having to worry about wasting resources. For instance, a practice’s website will typically have basic information about the practice and its main services, but pages can be added or eliminated without affecting the general look and feel of the site or the other main pages.
Additionally, if a practice wants to highlight a specific service, the cost of adding a landing page for search ads is going to be far quicker and cost much less than producing and launching a new print campaign.
In general, digital media is extremely flexible, making it easier than ever to reach potential patients with targeted information. This flexibility also makes market testing simpler and less costly. One giant advantage of digital marketing is that different digital media channels can work together to strengthen branding and consolidate messaging.
If a dental practice wants to be known for a certain procedure or build a reputation based on specific characteristics, it is easy to echo this on all digital media channels, linking them together and improving the chances that the practice will get the desired message across to the right patients.
Social media is especially suitable for this type of messaging, because content can be created on a weekly basis to reinforce a particular idea and also link directly to the practice’s website. And, not only are the results easier to track, but they typically come more quickly because some digital marketing campaigns can be implemented within days or weeks and not months.
Once a practice has a solid basis for digital marketing, adding traditional marketing can enhance digital marketing efforts. Traditional marketing efforts can include special phone numbers that facilitate tracking and QR codes that take patients to special landing pages that highlight a specific procedure, for example. With digital marketing as the foundation, a practice can invest less in traditional marketing, or at least be more selective about which traditional marketing channels to use, since digital marketing will be doing most of the heavy lifting.
In a perfect world, every dental practice would have the time and budget to take advantage of all traditional and digital marketing channels.
However, in the real world, practices have limits, and the best way for them to get the most out of their marketing budgets is to focus on digital marketing up front and supplement with traditional marketing once they have a solid digital foundation.
The two worlds can certainly work together to give practices the best chance to reach the patients they want.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
With more than a decade of experience in corporate dental laboratory marketing and brand development, Jackie Ulasewich-Cullen decided to take her passion for the dental business and marketing to the next level by founding My Dental Agency.
Since starting her company, she and her team have helped a wide variety of practices all over the nation focus their message, reach their target audience, and increase their sales through effective marketing campaigns.
She can be reached at (800) 689-6434 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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