Dental practices need to plan ahead to make their marketing effective

As I sit here on a warm, sunny May morning, it is easy to make plans for the day and the weekend. But life isn’t just a succession of warm May mornings sadly!

The title of these 2 blogs is a cliché but like all clichés it’s true. Whether your marketing budget is €100 or €100,000, then you need to sit down and plan how you will spend that budget to its maximum effect. A marketing plan is vital and it isn’t the same as your campaign – marketing isn’t just about advertising and promotion. The most important reason for creating a marketing plan is that it will mean that you avoid unconnected and random activities – something that is very easy to do if you don’t. Without a coherent plan linking your strategy to tactics, you are unlikely to see results. It is actually more important for a business like a dental practice to have a marketing plan – you have a finite budget and you don’t have Coca Cola’s resources to waste on ineffective or unplanned marketing!

So, let us sit down together and plan…

1. Don’t ever forget that marketing ISN’T advertising. Promotion is just one aspect of marketing; much of what you may think is just everyday business is marketing. For instance, how the team answer the phone, how they deal with walk-ins, how you deal with patients is all marketing.

2. Where are you at the moment? Take stock of your current patient base – how many, do they fit a particular demographic or societal group. Do you want more of the same? (The answer may well be no, but now is the time to decide!)

3. In marketing, we talk about products and services going through three distinct stages – and all three stages are relevant to a dental practice too:

• Pioneering – the aim here is to educate consumers. An example could be Cerec or 6 Month Smiles – something that the vast majority are not aware of and need tempting with.
• Competitive – here you are trying to position yourself against your ‘competitors’ and improve service to make your practice stand out. An example could be tooth whitening or white fillings.
• Retentive – as the name suggests, this is about retaining customers, building relationships and making the customer feel really valued. I would argue that the majority of dentistry falls into this stage.

More tips on planning in Part 2 – now get out there and enjoy the first of the May sunshine!